This coming year 2021 will be Xacobeo year. The holy years are very special years for pilgrims, as they are a culminating year for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. During the Xacobeo, the Camino de Santiago is dressed in its best clothes, it is full of events and the Cathedral of Santiago waits with its Holy Door open to welcome all pilgrims.

So now you know, if you were thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago, 2021 is your year! Here we tell you everything you need to know about the Xacobeo year.

Holy Year, Jubilee Year and Xacobean Year

Holy Year, Compostelan Holy Year, Jubilee Holy Year, Xacobeo, Jacobeo... surely you have heard some of these names before, right? Well, they all come to mean the same thing, the year in which the 25th of July (the day of St. James the Apostle) falls on a Sunday. Its origin dates back to the late medieval period. It is very important, because it is an event that only happens once every five, six or eleven years; and when the last year of a century is not a leap year, the Xacobeo is every seven or twelve years.

That’s the rule, but there’s always an exception that proves the rule, right? Well, in this case it was not going to be less. Last year 2016 was not a Xacobean year per se, but even so Pope Francis decided to proclaim that year as a Jubilee Year of Mercy, producing with his proclamation that all the Holy Doors of the world were opened. A truly unprecedented situation.

All the journeys of the Camino de Santiago by bike

The Jubilee Year lasts a full year. It is inaugurated with the opening of the Holy Door on December 31 of the previous year (in this case December 31, 2020) and lasts until the end of the coming year.

The Holy Door

If you are not a person of faith, you are probably wondering what the Holy Door is and what it means. Well, a note of ecclesiastical culture for everyone: The Holy Doors are doors located in a Christian temple that grant to anyone who passes through them the absolution of their sins in the eyes of the church. But don’t think that just walking through the door is enough! Pilgrims who wish to obtain the plenary indulgence next Xacobean year 2021, must: go through the door, receive communion, pray the Creed and pray for the Pope and his intentions. Once all this was done, absolution would be obtained: straight to heaven without going through purgatory.

The Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago is located at the back of the Cathedral, in the Plaza de la Quintana. It is only opened during the Xacobean years by the archbishop.

The Holy Door

The Jubilee

Earning the Jubilee is basically earning absolution from all sins in the eyes of the church. It is another way of saying plenary indulgence. In fact, when the Pope decreed the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016, it was supposedly because of the dramatic changes and situations that society was experiencing worldwide. It was, so to speak, the church’s way of trying to be supportive and comforting to its faithful.

When will Xacobeo be Xacobeo again after 2021?

2010 was the most recent Holy Year, remember that 2016 was exceptional. 2021 will be the next Xacobean Year and we will not have another one until 2027 and then 2032.

If you do the maths, you will realise that the Xacobeo is an event that only happens 14 times every century. Do you need a better reason to choose 2021 as your year to do the Camino? Surely not.

Xacobean year fireworks

What is it like to go on pilgrimage in the Holy Year?

Now you may be wondering: Will there be a large number of pilgrims? The answer is yes, there are always more pilgrims in Xacobean years.. In addition, the Holy Year 2021 is considered an event of exceptional public interest. For this reason, our recommendation is that whether you decide to do it on your own, as if you decide to hire your way with an agency, book your accommodation as soon as possible! Especially if you want to plan your route to get to Santiago on the day of the festivity. In addition, by booking in advance, you will avoid problems of price increases in accommodation or simply the fact of running out of available accommodation for your dates.

At the beginning of this post we already mentioned that “the road dresses up in its best clothes during the jubilee years. During this year, there are hundreds of cultural events of all kinds and for all tastes associated with the Camino de Santiago.. Especially in Santiago de Compostela an incredible festive and cultural activity is generated throughout the year. The road becomes even more multicultural. So you know, you will meet a lot of people from different countries and you will be able to attend a lot of events, and most of them are free!

Two pilgrims hugging theirselves on the Obradoiro Square

Well dear pilgrims, you know, if you want to live an even more fantastic experience, if possible, of the Camino de Santiago, 2021 is your year. As for the itinerary of the route, choose according to your interest: if you want a route more crowded with pilgrims or more solitary. You already know that the French and the Portuguese Camino are the busiest, so if you want more tranquility you can opt for the North, the English, or the Primitive, among others.

This 2021, even more Ultreia et suseia for all pilgrims! See you in Santiago!

Check all our trips