Easter bunnies, eggs and bilbies line the supermarket shelves, the school holidays are in full swing and the diets are out the window. But still, there’s no denying the allure of a traditional Easter Parade to celebrate this chocolate-laden time of year. Here’s a look at some of the world’s most colourful and memorable Easter Parades.
New York City
The origin of Easter parades dates back to a very small affair in 1870s New York City. The socialite event of the season, the wealthy would hit the streets of Fifth Avenue to show off their new spring wardrobe after church.
Today, the tradition has taken on new life as the New York Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival – the biggest of its kind in the United States. Expect a colourful smorgasboard of musical performances, dazzling costumes, clowns, beautiful floral displays and many gorgeous, quirky and one-of-a-kind bonnets to boot.
Easter Sunday in London is all about the famed Easter Parade in lush and leafy Battersea Park. Beautifully adorned floats trail through the park all themed to a piece of London’s history or one of its iconic city attractions.
The final piece of the procession is a special Jersey float filled with gorgeous spring flowers while bearing the Easter Princess and her attendants.
Thousands of men, woman and children dressed in Easter bonnets flock to see this spectacular show.
For over 50 years Toronto locals have donned their best frocks in time for the Beaches Easter Parade, which runs along Queen Street West (they sometimes bring their dogs too). Easter bunnies ‘hop’ down the street, marchers stride in beautiful costumes and stunning floats roll on through to the sound of local bands blaring.
There’s also a Beaches Easter Day 5 kilometres fun run and for the extra energetic, a one kilometre Bunny Hop event along the beautiful Beaches Boardwalk with its city locale, sandy rim and glistening water views.
There’s not just one but three Easter Parades in New Orleans: the New Orleans Gay Easter Parade, the St. Charles’s Avenue Easter Parade and the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade, which proves the most popular.
Held in the historic surrounds of the French Quarter, the parade was first initiated by the daughter of Count Arnaud in 1956 to follow the lead of the New York City parade – a place to flaunt the latest fashions topped off with colourful hats and bonnets.
Still to this day the parade is largely made up of mule-drawn carriages and old convertibles and stuffed Easter bunnies are handed out to the kids along the way. Awards are handed out for the best Easter bonnets, baskets and overall Easter attire.
In Spain Easter is referred to as Semana Santa (Holy Week) – one of the most intricate Easter traditions in the world – and it doesn’t get any better than in this gorgeous Andalusian capital. With daily processions through the narrow and character-laden streets of Seville, they feature hooded figures holding long candles, choirs, quartets and altar boys along with the enormous floats adorned with life-size wooden statues of biblical characters dating as far back as the 16th century.
The highlight is Maundy Thursday – the most important and spectacular moment to catch the procession.
The colourful homes, cobbled streets and volcanoes looming in the distance set the scene for a very unique Semana Santa celebration in Antigua, initiated by missionaries from Seville during colonial times. The solemn procession comes alive with various religious scenes, from the Holy Virgin of Sorrow and Jesus of Nazareth to Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilate. Fireworks, food and other celebrations round out the day.
The traditional home of Easter, in Jerusalem every year tens of thousands of people make the journey from Belphage to the Church of St Anne along the exact same route Jesus is said to have walked before his crucifixion. The Palm Sunday Procession marks the beginning of Holy Week.
Brazil is home to the largest population of Catholics in the world and in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife and Ouro Preto, you’re guaranteed an impressive procession. Another most iconic and eye-catching tradition to admire is the layering of beautiful rugs and carpets on streets, with flowers or sawdust poured on top in elaborate designs.