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April 2021 on Camino Frances - just how busy will it be?

2020 Camino Guides

Ducks

Walking for 3
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2020)
Camino Frances (2021)
I know it is very far off, but I have to slot the Camino in between events that I lead, and 2021 dates are already being arranged.

So with that info settled, I wondered if there are any opinions on just how busy the CF will be in late April 2021 - realising that it's a Jubilee year - but that Easter will have been earlier in the month. I don't mind some company on the road, but don't want to be jostling in crowds! Would late September be better?

Thanks!
 
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Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
I don't think it will make a difference whether you go at the beginning or end of April in 2021. Pilgrim numbers on the camino normally increase from Easter/April onwards. In the last Holy Year (2010), around 20,000 pilgrims arrived in April, 29,000 in May, and 34,000 in June. (Overall, pilgrim numbers almost doubled in comparison to the previous year).

There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, and as the camino has become more accessible, and this is a very important religious opportunity, you can expect numbers to sky-rocket!
 
Last edited:

LTfit

Veteran Member
I have seen expectations of up to 500,000 pilgrims arriving in Santiago throughout the year. September and May tend to be the busiest months, I personally wouldn't want to start then. Late April may also be busy, it's hard to say. Around Catholic holidays when the Spanish take long weekends or during Semana Santa the Camino will also be busy.

The last time I walked from SJPDP to Santiago was mid October 2018. The September crowds were then gone so there was no problem finding a bed. Just note that many accommodations close at the end of October but there is always something open.
There were still
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
It will likely be twice as busy on any given day during the peak pilgrim season, in 2021 as in 2019. The Jacobeo, the regional organization that regulates most secular things related to the Camino estimates (IIRC) about 400,000 pilgrims for the 2021 Holy Year. I suggest this is very conservative.

My estimates, based on simple mathematical analysis of past years, and the relationship to interspersed Holy Years, suggests a rather higher figure.

In 2018, some 327,000 actual pilgrims issued Compostelas. But the closure of the Cathedral and loss of the Botafumeiro for the entire year (2019) MIGHT have had a diminishing effect on some pilgrim groups.

Pilgrim groups will frequently PAY the Cathedral for the Botafumeiro to be flown when their group is in attendance at a specific Pilgrim Mass. No Botafumeiro...no groups... or fewer groups... I believe this attenuated the annual numbers in 2019 and will again in 2020.

My original estimate for 2019 was about 375,000. But the above event may have reduced pilgrim arrivals a lot. So, right now, the actual number will be released next month I think, will be in the area of 340-350,000. We shall see. Depending on that result I may revise my estimates a bit.

As it stands, my reconsidered 2020 estimate (based on the above adjustments) is now about 400,000, instead of my previous estimate of 475,000. Again this is because the Cathedral will remain mostly closed, and the Botafumeiro unused until the start of the Holy Year. This coincides with the start of the 20201 Liturgical Year and Holy Year in late 2020, on the first Sunday of Advent. So, if I was correct about group suppression, the same reduced numbers of pilgrim arrivals will be in effect for 2020.

On the other hand, consider that this almost two-year absence of the Botafumeiro in action at the opened Cathedral while renovations are being completed necessarily means that there is building a pent-up demand, especially among groups. If they were planning to go on Camino as a group and pay to see the Botafumeiro, they necessarily need to wait until the 2021 season, or later.

Hence, there could be a surge in 2021 arrivals, especially among groups. These increased arrivals will be particularly acute during the period from Semana Santa / Holy Week 2021 through the end of October 2021.

According to Google, in 2021, Easter falls early, on 4 April, 2021. this means that Semana Santa starts one week earlier on Palm Sunday, 28 March, 2021.

Hence, if you are planning a Camino during the period late March - October 2021, carefully consider your options as to route. Do make advance accommodation reservations. And do remain flexible. The Camino Frances will be the most heavily used route. Hence, accommodations will likely be relatively more difficult along this, the most popular route.

So, having considered the reduction effect of the Botafumeiro not being on offer for most all of 2020, but back online and flying for all of 2021, my revised 2021 Holy Year estimate is now about 600,000, with a full 30 percent of this number arriving in groups. It was originally a range from a low of 650k to about 725k.

We shall see who is closer, the Jacobeo or me...stay tuned...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
It will likely be twice as busy on any given day during the peak pilgrim season, in 2021 as in 2019. The Jacobeo, the regional organization that regulates most secular things related to the Camino estimates (IIRC) about 400,000 pilgrims for the 2021 Holy Year. I suggest
AND, these figures, as you stated above, only include those who obtained a Compostela.
It will likely be twice as busy on any given day during the peak pilgrim season, in 2021 as in 2019. The Jacobeo, the regional organization that regulates most secular things related to the Camino estimates (IIRC) about 400,000 pilgrims for the 2021 Holy Year. I suggest this is very conservative.

My estimates, based on simple mathematical analysis of past years, and the relationship to interspersed Holy Years, suggests a rather higher figure.

In 2018, some 327,000 actual pilgrims issued Compostelas. But the closure of the Cathedral and loss of the Botafumeiro for the entire year (2019) MIGHT have had a diminishing effect on some pilgrim groups.

Pilgrim groups will frequently PAY the Cathedral for the Botafumeiro to be flown when their group is in attendance at a specific Pilgrim Mass. No Botafumeiro...no groups... or fewer groups... I believe this attenuated the annual numbers in 2019 and will again in 2020.

My original estimate for 2019 was about 375,000. But the above event may have reduced pilgrim arrivals a lot. So, right now, the actual number will be released next month I think, will be in the area of 340-350,000. We shall see. Depending on that result I may revise my estimates a bit.

As it stands, my reconsidered 2020 estimate (based on the above adjustments) is now about 400,000, instead of my previous estimate of 475,000. Again this is because the Cathedral will remain mostly closed, and the Botafumeiro unused until the start of the Holy Year. This coincides with the start of the 20201 Liturgical Year and Holy Year in late 2020, on the first Sunday of Advent. So, if I was correct about group suppression, the same reduced numbers of pilgrim arrivals will be in effect for 2020.

On the other hand, consider that this almost two-year absence of the Botafumeiro in action at the opened Cathedral while renovations are being completed necessarily means that there is building a pent-up demand, especially among groups. If they were planning to go on Camino as a group and pay to see the Botafumeiro, they necessarily need to wait until the 2021 season, or later.

Hence, there could be a surge in 2021 arrivals, especially among groups. These increased arrivals will be particularly acute during the period from Semana Santa / Holy Week 2021 through the end of October 2021.

According to Google, in 2021, Easter falls early, on 4 April, 2021. this means that Semana Santa starts one week earlier on Palm Sunday, 28 March, 2021.

Hence, if you are planning a Camino during the period late March - October 2021, carefully consider your options as to route. Do make advance accommodation reservations. And do remain flexible. The Camino Frances will be the most heavily used route. Hence, accommodations will likely be relatively more difficult along this, the most popular route.

So, having considered the reduction effect of the Botafumeiro not being on offer for most all of 2020, but back online and flying for all of 2021, my revised 2021 Holy Year estimate is now about 600,000, with a full 30 percent of this number arriving in groups. It was originally a range from a low of 650k to about 725k.

We shall see who is closer, the Jacobeo or me...stay tuned...

My estimates, based on simple mathematical analysis of past years, and the relationship to interspersed Holy Years, suggests a rather higher figure.

In 2018, some 327,000 actual pilgrims issued Compostelas. But the closure of the Cathedral and loss of the Botafumeiro for the entire year (2019) MIGHT have had a diminishing effect on some pilgrim groups.

Pilgrim groups will frequently PAY the Cathedral for the Botafumeiro to be flown when their group is in attendance at a specific Pilgrim Mass. No Botafumeiro...no groups... or fewer groups... I believe this attenuated the annual numbers in 2019 and will again in 2020.

My original estimate for 2019 was about 375,000. But the above event may have reduced pilgrim arrivals a lot. So, right now, the actual number will be released next month I think, will be in the area of 340-350,000. We shall see. Depending on that result I may revise my estimates a bit.

As it stands, my reconsidered 2020 estimate (based on the above adjustments) is now about 400,000, instead of my previous estimate of 475,000. Again this is because the Cathedral will remain mostly closed, and the Botafumeiro unused until the start of the Holy Year. This coincides with the start of the 20201 Liturgical Year and Holy Year in late 2020, on the first Sunday of Advent. So, if I was correct about group suppression, the same reduced numbers of pilgrim arrivals will be in effect for 2020.

On the other hand, consider that this almost two-year absence of the Botafumeiro in action at the opened Cathedral while renovations are being completed necessarily means that there is building a pent-up demand, especially among groups. If they were planning to go on Camino as a group and pay to see the Botafumeiro, they necessarily need to wait until the 2021 season, or later.

Hence, there could be a surge in 2021 arrivals, especially among groups. These increased arrivals will be particularly acute during the period from Semana Santa / Holy Week 2021 through the end of October 2021.

According to Google, in 2021, Easter falls early, on 4 April, 2021. this means that Semana Santa starts one week earlier on Palm Sunday, 28 March, 2021.

Hence, if you are planning a Camino during the period late March - October 2021, carefully consider your options as to route. Do make advance accommodation reservations. And do remain flexible. The Camino Frances will be the most heavily used route. Hence, accommodations will likely be relatively more difficult along this, the most popular route.

So, having considered the reduction effect of the Botafumeiro not being on offer for most all of 2020, but back online and flying for all of 2021, my revised 2021 Holy Year estimate is now about 600,000, with a full 30 percent of this number arriving in groups. It was originally a range from a low of 650k to about 725k.

We shall see who is closer, the Jacobeo or me...stay tuned...
It will likely be twice as busy on any given day during the peak pilgrim season, in 2021 as in 2019. The Jacobeo, the regional organization that regulates most secular things related to the Camino estimates (IIRC) about 400,000 pilgrims for the 2021 Holy Year. I suggest this is very conservative.

My estimates, based on simple mathematical analysis of past years, and the relationship to interspersed Holy Years, suggests a rather higher figure.

In 2018, some 327,000 actual pilgrims issued Compostelas. But the closure of the Cathedral and loss of the Botafumeiro for the entire year (2019) MIGHT have had a diminishing effect on some pilgrim groups.

Pilgrim groups will frequently PAY the Cathedral for the Botafumeiro to be flown when their group is in attendance at a specific Pilgrim Mass. No Botafumeiro...no groups... or fewer groups... I believe this attenuated the annual numbers in 2019 and will again in 2020.

My original estimate for 2019 was about 375,000. But the above event may have reduced pilgrim arrivals a lot. So, right now, the actual number will be released next month I think, will be in the area of 340-350,000. We shall see. Depending on that result I may revise my estimates a bit.

As it stands, my reconsidered 2020 estimate (based on the above adjustments) is now about 400,000, instead of my previous estimate of 475,000. Again this is because the Cathedral will remain mostly closed, and the Botafumeiro unused until the start of the Holy Year. This coincides with the start of the 20201 Liturgical Year and Holy Year in late 2020, on the first Sunday of Advent. So, if I was correct about group suppression, the same reduced numbers of pilgrim arrivals will be in effect for 2020.

On the other hand, consider that this almost two-year absence of the Botafumeiro in action at the opened Cathedral while renovations are being completed necessarily means that there is building a pent-up demand, especially among groups. If they were planning to go on Camino as a group and pay to see the Botafumeiro, they necessarily need to wait until the 2021 season, or later.

Hence, there could be a surge in 2021 arrivals, especially among groups. These increased arrivals will be particularly acute during the period from Semana Santa / Holy Week 2021 through the end of October 2021.

According to Google, in 2021, Easter falls early, on 4 April, 2021. this means that Semana Santa starts one week earlier on Palm Sunday, 28 March, 2021.

Hence, if you are planning a Camino during the period late March - October 2021, carefully consider your options as to route. Do make advance accommodation reservations. And do remain flexible. The Camino Frances will be the most heavily used route. Hence, accommodations will likely be relatively more difficult along this, the most popular route.

So, having considered the reduction effect of the Botafumeiro not being on offer for most all of 2020, but back online and flying for all of 2021, my revised 2021 Holy Year estimate is now about 600,000, with a full 30 percent of this number arriving in groups. It was originally a range from a low of 650k to about 725k.

We shall see who is closer, the Jacobeo or me...stay tuned...
Add to these astonishing numbers, the factor for pilgrims who don't bother to get Compostelas. Perhaps, a third of those on various caminos. If you already have a Compostela, you may not strategize getting another; particularly if there is a number to get, etc... or, those who don't finish. Compostela or not, they are all on the trails.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Personally, in lieu of even planning to walk my annual Camino in 2021, my plan at present is to volunteer to work a second month. I plan to offer my service as a Pilgrim Office volunteer from around the third week of March 2021, as Semana Santa / Holy Week is on 28 March, through the ;last half of April. FYI, in 2021, Easter Sunday falls early, on 4 April. I usually return again to work from mid-July through mid-August.

For those who insist on walking during the Holy Year, plan ahead, make accommodation reservations, especially for large towns and cities on transportation lines, and remain flexible at all times. I do believe that the added volume of pilgrims, especially on the Camino Frances will bring about more challenges than in a normal year.

Hope this helps.
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
2020 Camino Del Norte
My plan is to walk one of the less known routes and skip going anywhere near Santiago in 2021. After receiving five Compostelas, having my walk end in Santiago is not that important to me anymore.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
DO stop by to obtain the 'solo sello' stamps to prove you made it to the Cathedral. They are free and do not involve waiting in any lines. Just ask the security guy, or tell him you only want solo sello. You will be in and out in less than five minutes.

This year, I plan to lobby for creating a dedicated solo sello counter or kiosks, or something so arriving pilgrims who want to formerly end their pilgrimage at Santiago, but who do not desire the Compostela can get the stamps with no fuss. Basically, i am seeking to 'skim off' maybe 10 percent of all arriving pilgrims to keep them out of the queues.

We shall see.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
For those Catholics out there who are so disposed, the Plenary Indulgence granted during the Holy Year DOES NOT require a pilgrimage per se. It only requires that you travel to the Cathedral, enter through the Holy Door (facing Plaza de Quintana), go to confession, attend Mass, take Holy communion, say a number of simple prayers for the Pope's intention. I think that is it, IIRC.

You can go through with veneration of the Apostle Saint's relics under the altar (in the huge silver casket), and the abrazo (hug) behind the main altar. But I am unclear whether those are actual requirements for the plenary indulgence, or just part of the traditional Pilgrim Welcome Ritual. I usually do all of the above, just to be on the safe side...

If there are any Catholic priests, religious, or other persons holier than me (most of you I am sure)... please correct me.

Hope this helps.
 

SueNZ

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2021
I was planning to walk my first Camino from early September 2021, but because of the crowds I've changed that now to late September. Hopefully the majority will have started by then. I have put my name forward to volunteer at an albergue in SJPDP for 2 weeks before I leave.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
I was planning to walk my first Camino from early September 2021, but because of the crowds I've changed that now to late September. Hopefully the majority will have started by then. I have put my name forward to volunteer at an albergue in SJPDP for 2 weeks before I leave.
A sound move...but, make reservations!
 

Ducks

Walking for 3
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2020)
Camino Frances (2021)
Thanks for all the advice here. A good reality check as far as numbers!
 

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