The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Varies Month to Month
Walking the Camino de Santiago, an old pilgrimage route in Spain, is a popular travel destination – especially in Jacobean Years. When should pilgrims start their route?
The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James, has attracted pilgrims from all walks of life for over 1000 years. Its history is long, beautiful, mythical, and intriguing to secular and Catholic travelers alike, as is its spectacular and challenging landscape. Each of the several routes of the Camino offer its own challenges, but they all are subject to the changing weather patterns of the region, as well as influxes of pilgrims during certain months of the year.
Travel on the Camino de Santiago is further complicated during Jacobean Years – years in which Saint James’ Day (July 25) falls on a Sunday – because of a dramatic increase of traffic on the pilgrimage routes. The next three Jacobean years are 2021, 2027, and 2032.
Walking the Camino de Santiago, Month by Month
January: Very cold and wet in parts of the Camino. Very few travellers
February: Still cold, but not as bad as January. Some travellers
March: Cool, but not unpleasant, weather. More travellers now on the route (a good time to walk)
April: Some areas of the route are now quite warm. More travellers than in March
May: Can get very hot, though weather varies in northern Spain more than in southern parts. Route is quite busy – may need to plan to reach hostels early, before they fill up
June: Expect hot weather. Similar traffic as in May. 2 or 3 times more travelers toward the end of the month during a Jacobean Year
July: Very hot. Lots of dirty, sweaty travellers (shower lines at hostels will be very long)
Remember July 25 is St. James’ Day – expect 3 times more travelers in Jacobean Years
August: Similar to July
September: Cooler than August, but not by much. Still plenty of travellers
October: Warm, pleasant walking weather. Crowds dying away
November: Quite cold in some areas of the route. Very few people walking
December: Cold and sometimes dangerous conditions. Not a good time to walk
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Jacobean Years
The Camino de Santiago terminates at its ultimate destination: the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. This site holds religious and spiritual significance for many of the Camino’s pilgrims, but at no time more than during a Jacobean year. For Catholic pilgrims, visiting the cathedral in a Jacobean year is a very important event. The Puerta Santa (Holy Door) in the Santiago de Compostela – which is normally closed – is opened for the entire year. Also, if they meet the necessary requirements, Catholics receive a “plenary indulgence” upon reaching the cathedral.
Regardless of the pilgrim’s reasons for walking the Camino de Santiago, the journey promises to be memorable – if not enlightening or life-changing. Travellers to the region might find this to be especially true during the Jacobean year 2010 and beyond.