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Holy Year

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I would welcome the experience of anyone who has walked the last half of the Frances in a Holy Year - are the crowds simply too much?

I was planning to pick up from Sagahun and complete - in one cunning move - both the CF and the Madrid, although I’ve done the full CF twice already and have no desire for more compostellas.

Would those who have done it advise that I walk another less popular route? I would be walking in February, so not exactly peak-season.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
It will have been 11 years from the previous Holy Year in 2010. In that Holy Year there were 272,703 Compostelas handed out. There were far more last year even in an "ordinary" year: 327,378. So I doubt that whatever happened for the 2010 Holy Year will be much of a guide for the next one. My own guess is that February will still be pretty quiet though.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
@henrythedog - from Madrid to Sahagun in February I think you'll be lucky to encounter another Pilgrim. From Sahagun to Sarria, well there will be Pilgrims on the Road. From Sarria to Santiago there will be many but it still won't be Oxford Street on Christmas Eve. You could always bail out from Ponferrada and take to the Invierno. As @Bradypus has pointed out "normal" exceeds the last Holy year numbers by a fair factor. Galicia's Peregrin Industry is gearing up for one-hell-of-a-party but on the route you're considering and before the "season" starts...

Buen Camino ;)
 

Dorpie

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
If you look at the jump in numbers from 2009 to 2010 - 145,000 going up to 273,000, almost a doubling, it's pretty terrifying to speculate what the jump from 327,000 may be, 600,000+?

However as the increase in pilgrim numbers in recent years has largely been amongst the secular community it is perhaps unreasonable to expect a jump proportional to 2010, indeed any non-religious pilgrim would be well advised to give Holy Year a miss I'd imagine, maybe this will lead to a bump in numbers in 2020 and 2022 as well as people avoid 2021?

Numbers walking in February reflected the changes for the full years; Feb 2009 - 702, Feb 2010 - 1,640, Feb 2011 - 820 so you can expect it to be busier than usual, I guess it will just be a question of whether more ablbergue and other infrastructure owners take account of this when deciding whether to open.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I would welcome the experience of anyone who has walked the last half of the Frances in a Holy Year - are the crowds simply too much?

I was planning to pick up from Sagahun and complete - in one cunning move - both the CF and the Madrid, although I’ve done the full CF twice already and have no desire for more compostellas.

Would those who have done it advise that I walk another less popular route? I would be walking in February, so not exactly peak-season.
As others have suggested, the Camino Frances in particular, and especially the final segment from Sarria will be thronging with pilgrims. The anticipated annualized volume for all of 2021 is thought to be in the range of 650,000. This is double the number of pilgrims in all of 2018.

You can certainly walk the Camino Frances in 2021 if you choose. But the only way, IMHO to make it manageable is to:
  • Walk in the off-season, in March-April BEFORE Semana Santa and Easter, or after 1 October
  • Avoid the transportation nodes and usual starting places, where pilgrims start on Friday Saturday and Sunday. On the Frances this includes SJPdP, Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Ponferrada, Astorga, O'Cebreiro, and Sarria. If you must stay at these places, do so Monday through Thursday nights only.
  • Avoid the daily wave of pilgrims from ANY place. Start early and end early.
  • Book ahead if at all possible. Show up, or cancel in advance so another pilgrim can use the room.
  • Maintain your composure in the face of crowds of unruly "pilgrims."
Hope this helps.
 
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doctorherman

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances*3, Ingles, Primitivo, Finisterre, Baztan, and Portuguese
maybe this will lead to a bump in numbers in 2020 and 2022 as well as people avoid 2021?
I can totally see this. I'm planning a 2020 Camino, a Camino in 2022 and completely avoiding 2021.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Just FYI and FWIW, I am not planning to walk in 2021. Instead, I plan to offer my services at the pilgrim office for a second month. I will offer to work from Semana Santa, and then again from mid-July to mid-August.

Do consider it if you can. Lord knows they will need the help.

Rick of Rick and Peg helped me add a direct link to the appropriate thread on how to volunteer to my signature. Click on the blue text..."Pilgrim Office Volunteering"
 
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Dorpie

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
@t2andreo

Because I'm too lazy to check and I suspect others may be interested could you let me know if there are any specific qualifications for working in the pilgrim office, for example do you have to be a fluent Spanish speaker?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Everyone who is maybe interested in volunteering at the Pilgrim Office - refer to this thread:


I wrote it in February 2018 after receiving many similar requests, as Dorpie's above. The only thing that has changed insofar as I know is that you must send your email offering your services in late October or November. By January or February, all the coming season plans are made.

After that, the available free flat beds are all allocated. The only way you can volunteer after that is by providing your own housing, at your own cost.

Hope this helps.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I think if you are walking in February and March, you may still be fine. You may consider shifting to the Invierno (it's not called the winter route for nothing), which at least avoids Sarria.

... I guess it will just be a question of whether more ablbergue and other infrastructure owners take account of this when deciding whether to open.
Many of the albergue owners have no say in whether they can open. My understanding is they are required by the government to shut down for the winter, as the government actually wants to discourage winter walking. I suppose the various provinces will have their own ideas about Holy Year planning.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Many of the albergue owners have no say in whether they can open. My understanding is they are required by the government to shut down for the winter, as the government actually wants to discourage winter walking.
In Galicia the albergues run by the Xunta are open all year round. Or at least they are in principle. In practice they occasionally close albergues for maintenance and repair work during the quiet months. Always worth checking ahead if walking in winter.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
In Galicia the albergues run by the Xunta are open all year round. Or at least they are in principle. In practice they occasionally close albergues for maintenance and repair work during the quiet months. Always worth checking ahead if walking in winter.
Yes, it's many of the private ones that have to close. I recall on the meseta, numbers in early Nov were high enough that the municipal called one of the private albergues and asked them to reopen.

It seems like it's not enforced in many places, or perhaps it's a licensing thing.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The anticipated annualized volume for all of 2021 is thought to be in the range of 650,000.
I am curious where this estimate came from. Projecting numbers of walker in a linear way makes no sense. Bed capacity would limit the numbers drastically by about Day 2, when many people would jump on a bus to the beach.
My understanding is they are required by the government to shut down for the winter,
I haven't heard this suggestion before. Maybe some government entities that own albergues have a policy of closing their own albergues during certain times of the year, but policies are different from requirements. Policies can change easily to meet the circumstances.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I am curious where this estimate came from. Projecting numbers of walker in a linear way makes no sense. Bed capacity would limit the numbers drastically by about Day 2, when many people would jump on a bus to the beach.
The Xunta works with these projected figures in their Strategic Plan for the Xacobeo 2021:
Xunta projection.jpg

That, obviously, relates only to Galicia. What I see there, is roughly a 10% increase year on year plus an extra dollop in 2021 which is actually lower than the plus in previous Holy Years. I think it's plausible that the Holy Year 2021 will have a lower impact this time (religious element relatively less important).

Source:
https://ficheiros-web.xunta.gal/transparencia/plans/culturaeturismo/plan_xacobeo_21_cas.pdf, page 92.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
The Xunta works with these projected figures in their Strategic Plan for the Xacobeo 2021:
View attachment 65097

That, obviously, relates only to Galicia. What I see there, is roughly a 10% increase year on year plus an extra dollop in 2021 which is actually lower than the plus in previous Holy Years. I think it's plausible that the Holy Year 2021 will have a lower impact this time (religious element relatively less important). What do you see, @C clearly? 🙃

Source:
https://ficheiros-web.xunta.gal/transparencia/plans/culturaeturismo/plan_xacobeo_21_cas.pdf, page 92.
I have not seen these official numbers before. Thank you very much for posting them, along with the source.

My personal estimate (I developed the 650k number) is based on the year-to-year growth rate over the past 15 years. I extrapolated this in a linear method, then applied the anomalous spike that has occurred in past Holy Years. That is where the 650k number comes from. It is the Holy Year spike that drives the final number to an insane level. I freely admit that my methodology could be flawed.

But, whether the eventual number is 500k or 600k, or more, could we at least all agree that it is better to plan and develop processes for a 'worst case' scenario, rather than get caught overwhelmed and short?

I have no problem with the Xacobeo being more correct than me. After all, they have direct access to the raw numbers. Even if their number the official ones, these are just estimates and projections.

The bottom line is that 2021 is going to be relatively, insanely busier than 2018, 2019, or 2020.

Another thing to consider is that pilgrims are only part of the workload at the Pilgrim Office. There are also hundreds of thousands, or potentially millions, of tourists spread over the entire year, who did not walk to Santiago.

Presently, we are seeing groups being bussed in from all over Europe, as well as from huge cruise liners that dock at Vigo. Most of us have seen the busload-sized groups of tourists on tours, gawking at the pilgrims.

For those of you who do not know, there are non-pilgrim certificates issued at the Pilgrim Office to pilgrims who travel by any means to venerate the relics in the Cathedral, or just make a visit to the Cathedral. The can arrive in town via any means of locomotion.

Also, it is important to point out for Catholics who might seek the Plenary Indulgence offered by the Church during a Holy Year, that NO PILGRIMAGE IS REQUIRED, per se. What garners the Plenary Indulgence is coming to the Cathedral, venerating the Apostle's relics, and performing certain specified Roman Catholic sacramental actions within a set time. Then, and this is entirely spiritual, requiring NO PAPER CERTIFICATES, the spiritual grace is conferred.

Given this, I intend to try to drive home the point that the Pilgrim Office must get out of the business of issuing anything to anyone who did not walk, bike, etc. to Santiago. I will strongly encourage PIlgrim Office management to move issuance of visitor and tourist certificates to another location, at least through the end of 2020.

But I can only try...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I would welcome the experience of anyone who has walked the last half of the Frances in a Holy Year - are the crowds simply too much?
I didn't walk but in case you hadn't seen it yet: @scruffy1 walked during the last Holy Year in 2010 from SJPP to Santiago. His description in this thread is so vivid that it felt as if I were there. In fact, I wish I had been there. It must be a once in a lifetime experience. 😊
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Further to my last post, I just finished reading through the Strategic Plan that Kathar1na very kindly provided a link to. Admittedly, my Spanish is not fluent. But I got the gist of most of the plan.

In essence, they are discussing everything occurring throughout Galicia, in connection to and about the Holy Year, and preparations for it. However, conspicuously missing, probably because it is not their jurisdiction, is any plan for handling the hordes of pilgrims descending on the Pilgrim Office.

If I missed something, will one of you who are more learned in Spanish please direct me to the specific page(s)I may have missed. Thanks.

This said, there was one nugget I pulled from their timeline chart, near the end of the document. It calls for completion of the Cathedral renovation project in November 2020. I have expressed this observation in other threads recently.

My view then, and backed up by the Xacobeo plan, is that the Cathedral with the Botafumeiro, will be back on line before the end of November 2020. This dovetails nicely with the Feast of the Transition of the Apostle, celebrated on 30 December.

I also recall that Holy Years kick off in connection with the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar, and not necessarily coincident with a calendar year. So, the 2021 Holy Year will likely start sometime in December 2020. Just sayin...

Hope this helps.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The 2017 special Year of Mercy ended in November. I was there when they sealed the Holy Door. So the Holy Year should also be Nov/Dec to Nov as well.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Take what Scruffy wrote and increase it by a factor of four or so to get an idea of the increased volumes expected for 2021. The Xunta recently completed renovation and expansion of the Monte de Gozo albergue from the low of about 100 beds to 600 beds.

When first developed for the 1993 World Youth Day, and visit of Saint Pope John Paul II, it contained 400 beds. Over the years, it was allowed to be used for other things. Over time, the pilgrim capacity got reduced.

One of the preparations being made for the coming 2021 Holy Year, was to crank it back up, do needed renovations, and expand the capacity to some 600 beds. They even have a website. Here it is:

www.benvidomontedogozo.com/

Hope this helps.
 

alhartman

346 joyful days in Spain and France since 2005
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
Just to get my mind around the scale of 600,000 for 2021--Woodstock was about 400,000; but of course Woodstock 'season' was only 4 days. And they did not have to check out and issue a piece of paper! And they did not even have the resources to check tickets.
But the scale the PO, and the albergues, have to deal with is nearly unfathomable.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Many thanks to all the above for your contributions.

It’s starting to feel like the (third) completion of the Frances can wait to after 2021. I may look at one of the more obscure routes - but I’m also considering a few weeks walking round the monasteries of Mt Athos.

Three years of Spanish lessons will not exactly help - but perhaps it's time for a change after four years of two Camino trips each year.

Thanks once again.

D
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I have been encouraging people to stay away from the Camino Frances in general, but the final segment from Sarria, specifically during 2021. The crowds will be greatest here.

I recommend that pilgrims either walk off-season if they must do the Frances, or, as others have figured out, walk another, less used route.

Hope this helps.
 
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Isca-camigo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
One of the preparations being made for the coming 2021 Holy Year, was to crank it back up, do needed renovations, and expand the capacity to some 600 beds. They even have a website. Here it is:
The last holy year they had capacity running at 800, it was normally 400 prior to that year. Some Camino friends who I was with on the Norte started walking big days to get there for the evening of the 24/7 2010, MdG was packed at 8pm but they still managed to get a bed. I have not stayed there and didn't realise there had been a subsequent decline in its facilities after 2010 until I tried staying there about 3 years ago on New year's Day, it was pouring down and my knee was hurting I decided to bail out for the day at MDG, trying to find someone or thing where I could register was not possible, it felt like a ghost town, however SDC felt like a ghost town on carrying into it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
I am thinking about buying a fleet of caravans and stationing them along the Frances - if the 2021 Holy Year is anything like the last one then yes accommodation will be at a premium.
Imho its the amount of accommodation and its position (especially on the Frances) that will determine how many pilgrims turn up/finish their Camino during the Holy Year.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I have advocated the concept of 'pop-up" large, tent-based albergues with mobile baños trucked in. Farmers with idle fields adjacent to the Camino proper could lease these fields for the 2021 season.

A few military-sized squad tents with cots inside would do the trick, if sanitary provisions were made for bathroom and shower purposes. There are container-based portable bathrooms on flatbed trailers, complete with showers and enclosed stalls, that are commonly rented for large scale multi-day music festival venues. One each for men and women would do the trick.

It is a simple business model. It would work. However, and this is the BIG "IF" given the local politics and multitude of rules, regulations and permits needed to to something like this, it is likely never going to happen. Just sayin...

On the other hand, if a circus comes to town and pitches it's tents, caravans, etc. just outside a town or village, what's the practical difference? If the plan called for locals to be employed to service the pilgrims it could provide hundreds of jobs.

As long as the temporary camp style albergue does not blight the landscape, and the agreement includes returning the site back to the previous status when this is done, IT WOULD WORK.

Hope this helps the dialog
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I've seen photos and read accounts of tents being pitched in the yards (gardens) of albergues and I must assume those were from earlier Holy Years. Some of those tents were put up by the albergues, some by pilgrims.

Holy Year may well be the year to carry a tiny tent and pad.

Is there a campground in Santiago?
 

Isca-camigo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
My 1st direct experience of the CF was challenging, it was at Arzua on the 27/7 in 2010 at 1330pm after joining from the Norte. It felt like it was in pandemonium, people were desperately seeking somewhere to stay, we went to the tourist info kiosk and they reserved us a place 12km further on in an unlisted Albergue in Brea. Walking on for the rest of the day was quiet there was just a handful of pilgrims, that experience and others have confirmed to me that even in holy week you can still have a tranquil walk in the last 100km if you are willing to adapt your patterns, or shy way from the advertised Etapa start and end points.
 

alhartman

346 joyful days in Spain and France since 2005
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
The Camino is one of the small places that does not use price to balance supply/demand--as in tickets to Hamilton!!
I think another unintended consequence of the huge crowd will be price gouging!
No plans to go--maybe KumanoKodo or Shikoku??
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
No plans to go--maybe KumanoKodo or Shikoku??
Both good options. Very different in character from the Caminos and each other though. Choosing one rather than the other really depends on the type of experience you would like and the amount of time you have available. Or you could just walk both :cool:
 

O Peracha

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago (2014)
Annapurna Base, Nepal (2014)
GR 5 - Holland to Pompey, France (2015)
Lisbon to Finesterre (2016)
I plan on being there in 2021. Looking forward to the hubbub.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I've seen photos and read accounts of tents being pitched in the yards (gardens) of albergues and I must assume those were from earlier Holy Years. Some of those tents were put up by the albergues, some by pilgrims.

Holy Year may well be the year to carry a tiny tent and pad.

Is there a campground in Santiago?
There is a campground in the As Cancelas area, behind the As Cancelas Shopping Mall. Taking the #4 bus from the old town to the end of the line, just behind and uphill from the mall, one walked down the street a few hundred meters.

I believe it is called Camping Santiago. Other than this, I know nothing about it.

It is located about 3 - 4 km from the Cathedral. It is walkable but is uphill. I recommend using the #4 bus. The fare is €1.00

Hope this helps.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
There is a campground in the As Cancelas area, behind the As Cancelas Shopping Mall. Taking the #4 bus from the old town to the end of the line, just behind and uphill from the mall, one walked down the street a few hundred meters.

I believe it is called Camping Santiago. Other than this, I know nothing about it.

It is located about 3 - 4 km from the Cathedral. It is walkable but is uphill. I recommend using the #4 bus. The fare is €1.00

Hope this helps.
Is that the one we walk past en route into town either on Frances--or the final end of Norte--that is near the TV station? (Memory fades but I remember going past a Camping there, it has a small coffee shop and restroom--my reason for remembering it.)
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Is that the one we walk past en route into town either on Frances--or the final end of Norte--that is near the TV station? (Memory fades but I remember going past a Camping there, it has a small coffee shop and restroom--my reason for remembering it.)
No. I think you are referring to a campground that is farther out, just before the TV station, and near the huge Monte de Gozo albergue,

The one I am referring tis INSIDE the autovía. If you were walking into town on the Frances, I believe it would be located to the right of your line of March, well off the route of the Frances. But you could hang a right in San Lazaro, after the Xunta Albergue...

I did some searching on Google Maps. It is called “Camping As Cancelas.” Here is the website:

campingascancelas.com

Hope this helps.
 
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Older Guy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis -May 2016 by bike---Loved it
I am tentatively planning on my second Camino in 2021. Since I have done the CF, I am thinking of a different one. I did the CF in the Holy Year of Mercy and it was crowded, but not impossible. I encountered a few villages where the Albergues were full, and the inexpensive hotels were full. When that happened, I tried either a tourist facility run from nuns or monks, a 3 star hotel, or a Rural farm B&B. Smart phones and Camino Apps are wonderful.

Also toward the end of the CF when places seemed very full, each day before I left, I asked the person running the place where I stayed, if I could forward a bag to my next lodging. The answer was always yes. I then said the town or village and asked if they could recommend a place to stay. They always did with a smile and phoned to make sure there was a reservation and that my luggage would be there when I arrived.

If you are flexible in terms of time and budget, I don't think the problem of large numbers will be too bad. For those on a tight budget with limited time, it could be a problem.
 

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