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Sketchbook Holiday in Cádiz, Spain
April 16 - 23, 2025 
Semana Santa

with Diane Olivier

Taught in English

Our one-week sketchbook holiday in Spain takes place in the historic Andalusian city of Cádiz.  Cádiz exudes a certain mystic quality – attractive, fascinating and almost magical. This city is deemed the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe. Established over 3,000 years ago, it stands on a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean, on the southwestern tip of Spain. This port city is almost entirely surrounded by water.  Hence, the Phoenicians called it “Gadir”, meaning “enclosure”. The old town's picturesque skyline features 126 18th century watchtowers built to monitor the coming and going of ships trading with "The New World".


The workshop is designed for all levels, from pure beginners to the most experienced artists.  Instructor Diane Olivier's workshops include demonstrations en plein air, individual instruction, and critiques.  We will be drawing in the mornings and your afternoons are free to explore the city. 

Holy Week, or Semana Santa, in Cadiz, is a famous Easter celebration known for its unique processions dating back to the 16th century. Over seven days, the city is transformed as the local people go out to celebrate Holy Week. Witness the spectacle of the ornately designed and incredibly heavy "pasos" (floats) featuring figures of The Passion being paraded on the backs of penitents through the streets under the warm light of candles.  The color of the Nazarene's tunics and conical hoods, the mixture of incense and orange blossom aroma, and the music of marching bands with drums and trumpets will inspire you to capture these spectacular scenes in your drawings.

We will be walking on old, cobbled streets, and at the beach, with your drawing supplies -- participants should be comfortable with carrying their gear on uneven surfaces and should be fit enough to walk unassisted for at least two hours and manage uneven stairs and occasionally steep footpaths, as we visit historic towns and villages. Not recommended for people with limited mobility.

From Diane:

Join me in exploring the old town of Cádiz with your sketchbook in hand. Between the Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance and elegant Baroque architecture, the bustling fish market, and the colorful flamenco culture, the possibilities here are endless! I will take you to a variety of great drawing spots each morning, and you have your afternoons to go exploring. We then will get together for a show-and-tell each evening at our hotel with our sketchbooks. 

Our home will be a charming apartment-hotel in a noble 19th century building. It is typically Andalusian with its interior patio, fountain and vertical garden. It is situated in the heart of the historical quarter of the ancient walled city of Cadiz, on a wide pedestrian street. Two dinners (on arrival and departure nights) and all breakfasts at a cafe are included. For other meals you can enjoy the many tasty local restaurants and tapas bars, or prepare your own meal in your apartment. 

Your trip will also include two Cadiz highlights: a quick sketch challenge aboard the Hop On Hop Off double-decker bus, which includes a walking tour, entrance to the Cathedral, and a sherry tasting, plus an evening out to a traditional taverna to see a flamenco performance and enjoy a drink. The rest of the time you'll have plenty of opportunity to explore and sketch down at the beach and throughout the maze of streets in the old town. 

There is also the likelihood that we will be able to schedule a meetup with the very active Urban Sketchers of Cadiz group, allowing us to sketch at an iconic location with local artists, and share a beer together afterwards!

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Typical Schedule 

Subject to change depending on weather, desires of group, or other unforseen circumstances.


Day 1 Welcome Tapas Fiesta

  • Arrival in Cadiz after 2:00 pm, unpack, relax

  • Welcome Tapas Fiesta 8:00 pm 

Day 2-7 Sketching

  • Breakfast 9:00-9:50 am

  • Drawing together 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

  • Afternoons free

  • Get together to review our work 6:00-7:00pm

  • Day 4: Hop On Hop Off bus sketching challenge & tour

  • Day 6: Flamenco show on Thursday night!


Day 7 Farewell Dinner

  • Farewell gourmet dinner, 8:00pm

Day 8 Check Out

  • Breakfast 9:00-9:50 AM

  • Check out by noon


Historic renovated elegance in Cádiz at

El Armador Casa Palacio

Welcome to El Armador Casa Palacio, one of Cadiz's architectural gems, transformed from a noble 19th century palace into luxurious apartment suites. Typically Andalusian with its interior patio, fountain and vertical garden, the building is located in the city's historic center on Calle Ancha, a pedestrian street lined with cafes and boutiques.

We have reserved five spacious and elegant apartment suites, each with efficiency kitchens.  Three are studios for 1-2 people, and 2 are 2 bedroom apartments with one room featuring a double bed, and another with two single beds which can be made up as two twins, or a double. Each apartment has a living area, kitchen and bathroom.


Drawing Instructor Diane Olivier

Drawing has always been my primary media, working with both traditional and nontraditional materials on scales ranging from small book size to mural size. My subject matter ranges from figurative, landscape and cityscapes to non-representational. The media ranges from charcoal to graphite, to full color pastels to non-traditional mixed media. The sense of touch between the tools and the paper and the immediacy of the mark are important element in my process. It is a dance between the eyes, the hand and the soul.


Sketchbooks on Flickr
My website


Holiday Director Kate Kilbourne

Since 2000, Kate Kilbourne lived part of the year in San Francisco, California, and part of the year in her house in Trôo, France... until 2017 when her partner Robert bought a flat in Cádiz, Spain.  Now Kate and Robert spend the spring and fall all over Europe, running Plein Air Holidays in France, Spain, Italy and in Croatia where they lived for nine months during the Covid pandemic.  Kate is fluent in French and is learning Spanish as fast as she can!

Drawings by Diane Olivier

Click to enlarge

Included in Holiday
  • 6 days of instruction

  • 7 nights lodging in El Armador Casa Palacio

  • Daily breakfast at cafe

  • Welcome tapas and wine fiesta Saturday 

  • Farewell multi course gourmet dinner

  • Ferry trip to Puerta Santa Maria & sherry tasting

  • Flamenco show, including one drink

Not Included
  • Air fare

  • Travel insurance

  • Medical insurance

  • Train fare

  • Drawing Materials 

  • Lunches and dinners are at your own expense, other than the Saturday Welcome tapas and the Friday Farewell dinner.  There are plenty of tapas bars and restaurants within walking distance to try -- or you can shop at the farmers & fish market to prepare meals in your apartment


The cost for the 7 night holiday, inclusive of everything listed under "Included in Holiday", varies according to whether you prefer a single room or are planning to share a double. Accommodation is in the El Armador Casa Palacio.

Shared Room: 2000 euros 

Per person


Single Room: 2350 euros 

Per person 

20% Discount

for non-painting participants

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