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Christmas/New Year Camino…

Past OR future Camino
CF July 2018
VDLP April 2019
Hey folks. The opportunity to walk during the festive period and beyond looks like a distinct possibility for me and I wonder if anyone has experience of being on pilgrimage during this time? I know the invierno is the ‘go-to’ winter route and I know the infrastructure of the CF is also a good bet, but I’m curious to hear if anyone has walked any Camino on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/new years day? If so, can you enlighten me on any pros and cons? Cheers for reading. BC.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Hey folks. The opportunity to walk during the festive period and beyond looks like a distinct possibility for me and I wonder if anyone has experience of being on pilgrimage during this time? I know the invierno is the ‘go-to’ winter route and I know the infrastructure of the CF is also a good bet, but I’m curious to hear if anyone has walked any Camino on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/new years day? If so, can you enlighten me on any pros and cons? Cheers for reading. BC.
I'm not sure that the Invierno is the "go-to" winter route - it is a very solitary route. Here is a thread from Athena who walked in winter and you will find lots of information in this section of the forum.
 

krosemc

Camino Primitivo 2020, Camino Frances 2019
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi there! In 2019/2020 I walked the Primitivo from Oviedo starting December 19th, 2019. On Christmas Eve I walked into Pola de Allande, and didn’t walk Christmas Day. Pretty much everything was closed down. The place I stayed in was very reasonably priced and nice, but even the restaurant closed down I think for the winter. Luckily the supermarket was open. New Year’s Eve I was in Lugo, and it being a larger city, everything was open! As I walked out early that New Years morning, there were still people celebrating the holiday quite happily on the streets trying to make their way home. The city definitely celebrated!

All in all, it was a very quiet, solitary walk. Think I met 3-5 other pilgrims total. Christmas Eve & day I met 2 pilgrims. New Year’s day there was one other pilgrim walking the way with me.

The weather was really, really good that year. At times the trail was muddy, or I had to circumnavigate around a flooded path, and I think in this regard I was quite fortunate. A few private albergues and pensions were surprised at my arrival even with reservations. A couple times I was nervous about getting a bed even with the reservation. seeing the homes decorated for Christmas along the Camino was really entertaining.

Pro’s- not at all crowded, never have to worry about an albergue or pension being full. This route is less traveled, so staying in a private albergue tends to be much more affordable. It was absolutely beautiful, and quiet. I like cooler temperatures, so walking in the 50-60’s during the day made me happy, and kept me moving! Oviedo was spectacular at Christmas. Very, very pretty!

Cons- the weather can be unpredictable, I think I was very fortunate not having any snow, only frost maybe 2-3 days, and having light rain only 2-3 days. In general though it was wet, and this can slow you down, because you need to be a bit more careful as you’re walking. Many municipal albergues are closed during this period. Not as many restaurants or shops are open. It was not at all like the Camino Frances in March/April, but you can prepare for that. There were some chilly starts to the day in the 30’s, and some places were better heated than others at night. You might end up carrying more weight as a result.

In Santiago, many restaurants and shops close in the middle of December until about after January 7.

Like you, I’d like to go back and walk the Camino del Norte for the first time & Primitivo again this December & January. I wonder what effect Covid19 is having or will have on this way, along with people wanting to walk during the holy year…. I hope there’s more people on both ways! Buen Camino! Kathleen
 

wanderer806

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(2013)
Hey folks. The opportunity to walk during the festive period and beyond looks like a distinct possibility for me and I wonder if anyone has experience of being on pilgrimage during this time? I know the invierno is the ‘go-to’ winter route and I know the infrastructure of the CF is also a good bet, but I’m curious to hear if anyone has walked any Camino on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/new years day? If so, can you enlighten me on any pros and cons? Cheers for reading. BC.
We were on the Portuguese one Christmas/New Year. Whenever you see a bar open, eat, as there may not be another open until the next day. Christmas Day we were hungry for a long time!! Then scored a pub for a great lunch - not sure if it wasn’t really a closed occasion but they didn’t turn us away. On New Years Day we were lucky to find an Irish Pub still going strong and had breakfast alongside some very happy but tired locals. They were very welcoming. And it rained. Every day. All day. Very glad to have a poncho. Great memories. :)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Hey folks. The opportunity to walk during the festive period and beyond looks like a distinct possibility for me and I wonder if anyone has experience of being on pilgrimage during this time? I know the invierno is the ‘go-to’ winter route and I know the infrastructure of the CF is also a good bet, but I’m curious to hear if anyone has walked any Camino on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/new years day? If so, can you enlighten me on any pros and cons? Cheers for reading. BC.
I've often joked that the only time to walk the Invierno is winter (invierno being Spanish for "winter"). And the premise of the modern route is that it might approximate what earlier pilgrims might have walked when winter snows made the higher route by O Cebreiro more challenging. But in modern times, the Invierno may be more challenging during winter than the Frances. Yes, the Frances might have deeper snow with the higher altitude. But the Invierno is likely to have challenges of infrastructure. It has much less infrastructure than the Frances and much of what it has may not be open in the depths of winter. You'll want to check in advance which accommodations will be open. Also, you'll want to watch out for all sorts of closures on Christmas Eve/Day, New Years Day, etc. and make sure you have food etc. if shops and restaurants are closed.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
You should take a look at Sara Dhooma’s you tube videos on her December Invierno. She has a video for each day of the ten days she walked.


Though there is certainly a lot less pilgrim infrastructure than on other caminos, most private places (pensiones and hoteles) will be open during the holidays. Shops and restaurants on Christmas and New Years could be a challenge, so you would probably have to carry more food than normal.

Definitely read Athena’s thread (recommended by @Kanga above). It has great information and will ease concerns about lodging.

I know a 20-something who walked with his mom during his winter break from college on the Francés, approximately Dec. 20 - January 15 and they met people and had a great time. They did have to plan because fewer places are open.

There is always an online list of albergue winter openings on the Francés. The website promises to return in November 2021 with a new list.


Good luck and let us know what you choose to do! Buen camino, Laurie
 

sfdithomas

Member
Past OR future Camino
2015
Hey folks. The opportunity to walk during the festive period and beyond looks like a distinct possibility for me and I wonder if anyone has experience of being on pilgrimage during this time? I know the invierno is the ‘go-to’ winter route and I know the infrastructure of the CF is also a good bet, but I’m curious to hear if anyone has walked any Camino on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/new years day? If so, can you enlighten me on any pros and cons? Cheers for reading. BC.
Great idea!
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
There is a group of hospitaleros who walk from O Cebreiro to Santiago every year, arriving in Santiago on December 31st. A huge dinner together (along with friends and partners) takes place in San Martin Pinario then all go out to watch the fireworks. I joined the group in Sarria on December 26th in 2013 with a hospi friend of mine. It was quite a fiesta, entirely different from my usual Caminos but special in its own way. As the Oficina de Peregrinos was closed when we arrived in Santiago, we entered the sacristía of the cathedral to get our final stamp and credential. All the municipal albergues in Galicia were open.

In addition, I've walked Burgos - Sarria in the winter (late December-January) and there was no problem finding accomodations. There is a list that comes out every November with names of albergues that are open in the winter along the Francés. I don't know of any such list for other Caminos.

But...past years are just that, pre-Covid.
 
Last edited:
Past OR future Camino
CF July 2018
VDLP April 2019
You should take a look at Sara Dhooma’s you tube videos on her December Invierno. She has a video for each day of the ten days she walked.


Though there is certainly a lot less pilgrim infrastructure than on other caminos, most private places (pensiones and hoteles) will be open during the holidays. Shops and restaurants on Christmas and New Years could be a challenge, so you would probably have to carry more food than normal.

Definitely read Athena’s thread (recommended by @Kanga above). It has great information and will ease concerns about lodging.

I know a 20-something who walked with his mom during his winter break from college on the Francés, approximately Dec. 20 - January 15 and they met people and had a great time. They did have to plan because fewer places are open.

There is always an online list of albergue winter openings on the Francés. The website promises to return in November 2021 with a new list.


Good luck and let us know what you choose to do! Buen camino, Laurie
That’s great, I have seen some of Sara’s videos on YouTube. Excellent 😎 Thank you Laurie. BC
 

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