This is a question we get a lot from pilgrims who call or email us. The answer can vary based upon priorities and circumstances, but the simplest answer is: anytime!
As there are many pilgrimage locations throughout the world, there is always somewhere to go, no matter the season.
Summer provides more opportunities for people who have children or work in the school system. It is also a surprisingly good time to travel to Israel, if you don’t mind the heat. Though tourism overall is up in Israel during summer, with Jewish families and college students on holiday. However, as they are typically not visiting the Christian sites, the crowds in those areas can be slimmer than spring or fall.
Summer is also a great time in terms of weather for traveling to Ireland and England, though prices and crowds might both be a little bit higher.
The “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall are often better times to go in terms of weather and pricing, though this can also make it more crowded. We do still find, however, fall is our most popular time for pilgrimages – peaking in September/October.
Some sites are even better in winter! Israel experiences a short rainy season, but with the combination of mostly pleasant weather and lower prices, February and November are some of the best months for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And, as much of the northern states are cold and snowy, a pilgrimage to Guadalupe can rejuvenate both your soul and your body craving the warmth!
European pilgrimages are not typically seen as winter-friendly, but by dressing in layers and being aware it might rain some days, the benefits can far outweigh the negatives. Locals in Italy told our director recently that November-February are great times to visit their country. Not only are prices lower and crowds thinner, but there is a beauty to the holiday seasons in many European cities. Christmas markets make their appearance starting in late November, and the Epiphany in January is often even more joyously celebrated than Christmas Day.
So when should I go?
We firmly believe that the Lord calls people to pilgrimage at various times and for various reasons. So, whether it has been on your heart for a long time, or just seemed to come up out of nowhere, we encourage you to listen to the Holy Spirit nudges and prayerfully consider joining one of our pilgrimage groups – any time of year!