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Queues at the Cathedral?

Time of past OR future Camino
Apr & Sep 2013, Apr 2014, 2015, Sep 2022, 2023
I have been lucky enough to walk into Santiago 5 times now, the first two times with my son when we actually got to see the Botafumiero swing (April 2014 and March 2015). We even managed to get a seat on a pew! However the last two visits my friend and I have been unable to get into the pilgrim mass due to the hordes of people. In September 2022 we queued for ages and managed to get into a cramped space behind ropes prohibiting us from seeing anything at all. In September 2023 there were that many people in the queue entry was impossible. Were we just unlucky - or is this the new norm? I am walking again with my son in June 2024 (already feeling like it's going to be worse at that time of the year). I am interested in other's experiences.... and what time you suggest we join the queues?
 
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Nobody has to skip the pilgrim mass at the Santiago cathedral. Pilgrim mass is at 7:30, 9:30, 12:00 and 19:30. The first one is next to empty, even in summer, and the second one is rarely full. I don't understand why people want to go when the ""hordes"" go. Aren't they making up the horde? :cool:

Here is what it looks like today, Sunday, 3 March, 9:30 mass - empty pews, a handful of people in the transept:

Mass.jpg
 
Nobody has to skip the pilgrim mass at the Santiago cathedral. Pilgrim mass is at 7:30, 9:30, 12:00 and 19:30. The first one is next to empty, even in summer, and the second one is rarely full. I don't understand why people want to go when the ""hordes"" go. Aren't they making up the horde? :cool:
Thank you so much, I was unaware the pilgrim mass was held four times a day. This is what is stated on Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim’s Reception Office website..."Pilgrim’s Mass is held every day at 12.00 p.m. and 7.30 a.m. In Holy Years the number of pilgrim masses increases, due to the large influx of pilgrims. If you want to find sitting room you should arrive early, as these masses are always very busy".... by the way... I do not think anyone really "wants to go with the "hordes". Most people need to fit in what they can, when they can, in their precious time in Santiago. Again, this information is greatly appreciated.
 
This is what is stated on Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim’s Reception Office website..."Pilgrim’s Mass is held every day at 12.00 p.m. and 7.30 a.m.
I see that you got this from the Frequently Asked Questions part of the website. Unfortunately, there are parts that are not updated and parts where the English and Spanish text are considerably different, just compare:
https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/faqs/
https://oficinadelperegrino.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

Up to date times for mass are published on the website of the Cathedral itself, see here:
http://catedraldesantiago.es/liturgia/

There is also a mass at 11 am but it is not labelled as pilgrim mass and it is held in a different part of the cathedral and not at the main altar.
 
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We attended the early Mass (7:00am?) in September 2022 then the noon Pilgrim Mass in September 2023. In 2022, the Cathedral was nearly empty, but the Mass was lovely - not a "Pilgrim" Mass, but it was wonderful for this Catholic Pilgrim and not a tour group in sight. In 2023, however, my friends wanted to attend the noon Mass - hoping to see the Botefumiero. While my friends were strolling around Santiago, I got to the Cathedral a bit earlier. I was waiting outside and about 30-45 minutes before the Mass, I saw countless tourist groups (following guides with flags or umbrellas) enter the Cathedral. Many of the groups had reserved seating in the transept of the Cathedral which is prime viewing area for the Botefumiero, if it is used. Very few of the group members rose and took communion which led me to surmise they were not Catholic tour groups, and I would venture (though it's a guess), that none of them were pilgrim's. I'm not exactly certain how pews in the transept are reserved, but personally, I don't think it is a good practice. I understand the popularity and desire to see the Botefumiero, but it's sad that the Pilgrim Mass, which is a beautiful culmination of a pilgrimage, is so hard for pilgrim's to attend. In 2023, we were very far back in the nave of the Cathedral and felt fortunate to even get a spot there. I have one more Camino walk, but I will most likely attend one of the other Mass celebrations and avoid the noon Mass.
 
If you arrive for the noon Mass on a Friday during the peak season, you stand little chance of getting in, unless you join the queue very early - like two hours ahead of time - in the morning. Even then, it is sketchy. Groups paying for the Botafumeiro to be used always get preferential access and seating so they are sure to see the ceremony they are subsidizing.

OTOH, if you arrived on the same Friday for the noon Mass, from late October to March - BEFORE Semana Santa (Holy Week), you would stand an excellent chance of being admitted to the Cathedral for the Mass.

However, outside of the peak season, the likelihood of seeing the Botafumeiro is significantly reduced. Again, this is because it is far less likely that some person or some group paid to subsigize using the Botafumeiro.

See the official list of dates the Cathedral hosts using the Botafumeiro - at all other times persons or groups pay to have the Botafumeiro used.:
https://catedraldesantiago.es/liturgia/#botafumeiro

See my recent post here, on a related question:
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...et-to-see-the-botafumiero.85367/#post-1228635

I hope this helps.

Tom
 
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I have been lucky enough to walk into Santiago 5 times now, the first two times with my son when we actually got to see the Botafumiero swing (April 2014 and March 2015). We even managed to get a seat on a pew! However the last two visits my friend and I have been unable to get into the pilgrim mass due to the hordes of people. In September 2022 we queued for ages and managed to get into a cramped space behind ropes prohibiting us from seeing anything at all. In September 2023 there were that many people in the queue entry was impossible. Were we just unlucky - or is this the new norm? I am walking again with my son in June 2024 (already feeling like it's going to be worse at that time of the year). I am interested in other's experiences.... and what time you suggest we join the queues?
I er heldige, at I er to. Så mit råd er at komme i rigtig god tid, måske allerede kl 10:30. I kan så skiftes til at gå lidt rundt og opleve katedralen se graven og omfavne Santiago. Messen er for mig så vigtig, at jeg gerne kommer i ( al for) god tid 😊
 
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I have been lucky enough to walk into Santiago 5 times now, the first two times with my son when we actually got to see the Botafumiero swing (April 2014 and March 2015). We even managed to get a seat on a pew! However the last two visits my friend and I have been unable to get into the pilgrim mass due to the hordes of people. In September 2022 we queued for ages and managed to get into a cramped space behind ropes prohibiting us from seeing anything at all. In September 2023 there were that many people in the queue entry was impossible. Were we just unlucky - or is this the new norm? I am walking again with my son in June 2024 (already feeling like it's going to be worse at that time of the year). I am interested in other's experiences.... and what time you suggest we join the queues?
I walked 3 Caminos last year, got a good seat (2x in pews near the altar) after each by arriving 1 to 1-1/2 hours prior to mass and saw the Boto swing. With this method, I never had to join a queue.
 
I now arrive in December for my caminos and there are still some lines to get in. I am not Catholic but I do consider the Cathedral mine. As a person who has attended some masses in my life I find myself just sitting there and honestly getting bored very quickly. as I have no idea what is going on. Now I go to the cathedral in the early morning and will just sit with myself and find some peace. I will often go into that small chapel near the entrance on the left side of the bema if the main chapel is filling with tourists.
 
I have visited the cathedral many times and watched the Botafumeiro in use several times. Been there, done that, no particular need to do it again. I find myself becoming increasingly irritated at the lack of reverence shown during the swinging anyway. My own business in the cathedral these days is between me and the Apostle and takes place down under the high altar. Which fortunately isn't all that dependent on mass times.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I have been lucky enough to walk into Santiago 5 times now, the first two times with my son when we actually got to see the Botafumiero swing (April 2014 and March 2015). We even managed to get a seat on a pew! However the last two visits my friend and I have been unable to get into the pilgrim mass due to the hordes of people. In September 2022 we queued for ages and managed to get into a cramped space behind ropes prohibiting us from seeing anything at all. In September 2023 there were that many people in the queue entry was impossible. Were we just unlucky - or is this the new norm? I am walking again with my son in June 2024 (already feeling like it's going to be worse at that time of the year). I am interested in other's experiences.... and what time you suggest we join the queues?
At my first Camino in August 2017 there was a moderate queue which moved quickly. I was able to go to Confession with an English speaking priest and then got a good seat in the pews in the transept. I am a Catholic deacon and so had the great honor in July 2022 of assisting at the Pilgrim Mass at which a priest friend walking with me had the honor of shoveling the incense into the Botafumeiro. Sitting in the Sanctuary right behind the altar gave a great perspective on the hundreds of pilgrims gathered there and the sheer awesomeness of the event. Many people were standing the whole time. I would just advise getting there as early as you can. Slip into one of the side chapels to reflect and pray, light a candle. If you’re Catholic, it’s great opportunity to go to Confession as there are priests there speaking a variety of languages.
 
Having arrived in Santiago in December of 2023, I didn't have to deal with crowds. Arriving in July 2024 was a different story. At first I was turned away from the Cathederal because I had a backpack. When I returned later that day without it, I was again turned away because the Mass had already begun.
The next morning, I was passing the Cathederal, having given up on entering, but saw a very short line! I got in line, not realizing it was the line for the Crypt. I hopped out and took a pew for the Mass. A dream fulfilled unexpectedly as the Botafumeiro swung!
 
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I have been lucky enough to walk into Santiago 5 times now, the first two times with my son when we actually got to see the Botafumiero swing (April 2014 and March 2015). We even managed to get a seat on a pew! However the last two visits my friend and I have been unable to get into the pilgrim mass due to the hordes of people. In September 2022 we queued for ages and managed to get into a cramped space behind ropes prohibiting us from seeing anything at all. In September 2023 there were that many people in the queue entry was impossible. Were we just unlucky - or is this the new norm? I am walking again with my son in June 2024 (already feeling like it's going to be worse at that time of the year). I am interested in other's experiences.... and what time you suggest we join the queues?
I have walked to Santiago 4 times in the last 2 years and as long as I’ve been in line by 10 am I have not had an issue getting in and getting a front pew. As a bonus I have see the Botafumeiro swing twice.
 
Having arrived in Santiago in December of 2023, I didn't have to deal with crowds. Arriving in July 2024 was a different story. At first I was turned away from the Cathederal because I had a backpack. When I returned later that day without it, I was again turned away because the Mass had already begun.
The next morning, I was passing the Cathederal, having given up on entering, but saw a very short line! I got in line, not realizing it was the line for the Crypt. I hopped out and took a pew for the Mass. A dream fulfilled unexpectedly as the Botafumeiro swung!

Couple of points, assuming that you meant 2022 and 2023... ;)

If anyone reads this board, or has Camino bound friends, please please reminds them that, for at least 3 years now, you may NOT enter the Cathedral with a backpack. Please.

Regarding hopping out of the crypt line...that works if the line isn't long and the church isn't too crowded. I hopped into the church from the museum one blessed day in late Sept 23 when my Camino friends texted me that they had a seat, an hour before Mass. (I tried it again the next day, and the door was closed and locked) . But I also saw people trying to hop out of the crypt line and getting shooed out of the church.

Point being, don't plan on being able to sneak in. If you want a close seat, queue early or pick the early Mass.
 
on my first camino, 2013, you could enter by any door except the portico at the front. It was always easy to get in with no 'hordes' and I saw the botafumeiro swing. 2015 it was a bit more crowded and they definitely seemed to be enforcing the no back pack rule. Once again the botafumeiro was swung. 2016 was a holy year of sorts and the holy door was open. Now we had to queue to get in. It was easier to get in by the holy door queue. Entry and exit were restricted to certain doors. Exit was via the shop. Got to see the botafumeiro again. On the sunday the cathedral was closed at a certain time and we had to go to mass in Saint Francis. Beautiful church and very enjoyable. Very few transferred from Cathedral to Saint Francis. Basically I have seen things change from unfettered access to restricted in some way or another. I visited Santiago on two other occasions as a tourist rather than pilgrim, once in 2014 and once in 2017 and the difference in access was the same. I didnt always get a pew but after walking 800Km, standing through Mass was not an effort. I put the queues down to the restricted access rather than the lack of queues when every door was available for entry but then I havnt been there for a while as my last camino 2018 was cut short and the pandemic ruined my plans for a few years
 
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When I was there, I saw a huge line at the front, so I walked around to the side door and walked right in. I even got a seat. Maybe it was a back door. I can't exactly remember. Got a decent video of the Botafumeiro.
 
In late June last year there was no problem getting in for the morning mass, but the Botafumeiro did not swing.
This will be my first Camino. Are there specific days/times that the Botafumeiro does not swing?
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
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As backpacks are no longer allowed in the cathedral, does anyone know of anyplace, lockers, etc. where we might store the backpack while in the church?
 
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As backpacks are no longer allowed in the cathedral, does anyone know of anyplace, lockers, etc. where we might store the backpack while in the church?
There are also lockers at the pilgrims office (the place you'll go get your Compostella) just a few minutes walk from the cathedral.
 
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FYI - The botafumerio is out for repairs. When I inquired last week about the date of May 27 to the cathederal below is there response. As most go to see the botafumerio, when there is no chance of seeing it I imagine seating is not an issue. Repairs may not be completed by June. (translated by google so a little off)

“We are sorry to inform you that for technical reasons the botafumeiro will not work until further notice. We could file your request and we could contact you if you inform us about the resumption of the service before the requested date.

We also anticipate that for the operation of the botafumeiro, the amount of € 500.00 would have to be paid by bank transfer and two banks would be reserved.”
 
It's a shame that this need for repairs to the botafumeiro has happened so soon after the recent huge restoration project. It would have been great if they could have replaced any parts that were showing wear during that project. But I guess it was something that had no visible signs of wear that broke.
 
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I have been lucky enough to walk into Santiago 5 times now, the first two times with my son when we actually got to see the Botafumiero swing (April 2014 and March 2015). We even managed to get a seat on a pew! However the last two visits my friend and I have been unable to get into the pilgrim mass due to the hordes of people. In September 2022 we queued for ages and managed to get into a cramped space behind ropes prohibiting us from seeing anything at all. In September 2023 there were that many people in the queue entry was impossible. Were we just unlucky - or is this the new norm? I am walking again with my son in June 2024 (already feeling like it's going to be worse at that time of the year). I am interested in other's experiences.... and what time you suggest we join the queues?
Well ...trouble is if it is not crowded you will get a seat but you might not see the censor fly. But at busy times ....to guarantee a good seat ...be in the queue two hours early.
 

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