La Feria de Abril
by John Bascombe on Friday, April 27, 2012
This is such a wonderful time of year to be in Seville. Well, it’s always lovely to be in Seville since it’s such an amazing city, but it’s especially great at the moment. ¿Por qué? Because two weeks after Semana Santa, Seville is celebrating again; La Feria de Abril.
This week-long celebration takes place every year in Seville, and draws over one million people to join in the fun. La Feria de Abril, meaning the April Fair, began in 1847, and has evolved a long way from its origins as a cattle trading fair. It is now known internationally as a celebration of typical Andalusian culture; where women wear their most elaborate flamenco dresses inspired by the Gypsy fashion, Spain’s most famous bullfighters take to the ring, and festivities last until the early hours of the morning. The Feria officially opened at midnight on Tuesday, when the famous puerta of Seville is illuminated. The festivities run until midnight on Sunday, where a fireworks display closes the Feria.
The Seville Fair takes place away from the city centre; Real de la Fería along the Guadalquivir River is home to the festivities. As with any good party, there is plenty of food and drink available, like typical Spanish cuisine of cured ham, sausage and plenty of seafood. Also commonly found at La Feria de Abril is the famous sherry wine. Often, due to the heat in southern Spain, it is mixed with lemonade, which locals call ‘rebujito’ and is definitely worth a try!
During the day, there are daily processions of horses and intricately decorated carriages, parading through the city and the fairground. There are even carriages to rent if you want to join in the Feria spirit. The equestrian events are usually accompanied by music. Seville is often called the epicentre of Flamenco, and the guitar music and singing fills the streets. Typical Andalusian outfits with wide brimmed bolero hats and short cropped jackets can be seen everywhere; on the fairground rides or at the many foodstalls.
At night, there is a completely different atmosphere. The temporary tents that are erected for the fair, ‘casetas’ as they are called in Spanish, divide the fairground into different dance halls, bars and private areas. The casetas are usually hosted by wealthy families from Seville, night clubs, trade unions, political parties, or city organizations, but there are also free tents for those without the friends in high places. Every tent is set up differently with a unique atmosphere and different customs; for example, “ER 77” and is famous for pouring wine from buckets and having cots available for napping, the "Los Duendes de Sevilla" (The Goblins of Seville) which is named after a painting by Alvarez Quintero, and many more. Most don’t get going until well after midnight, and the drinks and dancing carry on until sunrise.
La Feria de Abril is also well known for its bullfights. At 5.30pm in the Plaza de Toros de Maestranza, Spain’s top toreros take on a bull every day from the end of Semana Santa until the end of the Feria. The bullfights are a very popular part of the festival, and even the roads of tents in Real de la Fería are named after the matadors. While las corridas may not be to everyone’s taste, the bars in the Arenal area which surrounds the Plaza have a great atmosphere beforehand and afterwards, full of crowds and excitement.
La Feria de Abril this year is the 24th to 29th of April, so there’s still a chance to enjoy this typical Andalusian event, with food, drinking, dancing and fun for all. If not, there’s next year’s Feria to look forward to, and lots more Spanish culture to enjoy in the meantime!
Keywords: Seville,Sevilla,bullfighting,festivales in spain,feria de abril,andalusian culture,seville fair