The April fair in Seville is without a doubt one of the highlights of the Andalucian calendar. Shortly after the end of Easter, the city of Seville quickly begins preparing for the Feria de Abril, and so begins the feria season in Spain.
This famous fair dates back to 1847 when it began as a humble as a cattle fair. A few marquee tents, known as casetas, would be set up on the fairground as improvised bars serving basic food and drinks to the fair goers.
The actual trading of cattle was eclipsed rather fast over the years, as people came instead to enjoy the merriment of eating, drinking, dancing and socialising in the casetas, which increased dramatically in number. Today Seville April Fair has one thousand and forty nine casetas and is a massive celebration that lasts for six days.
Sevillanos are deeply passionate about their feria and they like to make it an elegant, traditional, vibrant, colorful, social, familiar, fun and gourmet event.
Every year, women choose carefully the fabric and design for their taylor-made flamenco dresses in order to wear the latest flamenco fashion during the fair days. When the budget for the feria is tight, they modify old dresses adapting them to the new trends.
Shoes and accesories (earrings, necklace, bracelets, flowers for the hair, fan and shawl) are also important. They are selected well in advance making sure their colours and shapes combine perfectly with those of the flamenco dress.
Men also take their appearance very seriously and wear their best suits to the feria, always keeping the tie and jacket on even when temperatures reach summer levels.
Some people are taxied on beautiful horse carriages from their homes, or ride their own horses to the feria. This adds beauty and colour to the streets of the fairground that are decorated especially for the occasion. The “paseo de los caballos” when all the horses and their riders enter the fair each day is one of the highlights for anyone visiting.
The casetas themselves are laboriously set up on the fairground and de-rigged every year. They belong to communities such as religious brotherhoods, political parties, companies, societies and sports clubs among others so that these clubs and groups can congregate in their own private party.
Inside the casetas you will always find a bar stocked up with beer, Sherry and spirits. There will also be a kitchen, a dining area that frequently and spontaneously becomes a dance floor, and sometimes a small stage. Some of the casetas are very nicely decorated with typical Andalusian ornaments widely seen in people’s homes.
Children, who are dressed often as their parents, are most welcome in the casetas where everybody dances to the typical songs played in the feria called Sevillanas. With a very specific musical structure and lyrics that often talk about stories related to the pilgrimage to El Rocío in May, Sevillanas are danced usually in couples following a series of very precise dance steps involving a great deal of spinning, arm raising and position swapping. The dance can be extremely sensual and highlights the beauty of the flamenco dress and the figure of the dancers.
Sevillanos fight the heat of the feria by drinking very cold dry sherry from Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Manzanilla) in their casetas. Sometimes Manzanilla is diluted with soda (the mix is called Rebujito) and served with ice cubes in big jugs. People take turns buying bottles of Manzanilla or jugs of Rebujito and they fill the glasses of their friends and family.
Good food also plays an important role in the fair and comes out of the kitchens served as tapas (small portions), medias raciones (half portions) or raciones (full portions) and it’s also shared amongst friends and family members in the casetas.
The April fair in Seville is one of the highlights of the calendar in Andalucia, and Toma Tours once more enjoyed the explosion of color, beauty, joy and friendliness of this year’s feria. We can´t wait to do it all again next year!
To enquire about visiting the April fair in Seville with TOMA & COE on one of our bespoke itineraries, contact us via the website