What started as a small livestock market back in 1846 has now become Sevilla’s and Spain’s grandest annual fair ever! The FERIA DE ABRIL in Sevilla or April Fair is the most fascinating, joyous, colourful and spectacular Spanish celebration we have ever seen and experienced! Held two weeks after the Semana Santa, this feria is a week-long celebration which bring people together, not only Sevillanos but also people from other parts of Spain and the world, and party in a cozy amiable atmosphere, where sherry and rebujito keep on flowing, where sounds of flamenco music fills the air, and beautifully dressed women, children and men parade aound the feria grounds.
1.REAL DELA FERIA AND LA PORTADA
One enters the feria grounds via the La Portada, its main gateway and popular meeting point for the locals. About 25,000 light bulbs were installed here and lighted on Monday night (Lunes del Alumbrao) to mark the beginning of the week-long celebration.
The feria grounds, called Real dela Feria covers an area of 275,000 square meters. It has 25 blocks and 15 streets carrying the names of Sevilla’s famous and legendary bullfighters. The whole area is lit with light bulbs covered with paper lanterns called farolillos.
2. THE CASETAS
Casetas, or houselike pavillons are found along the streets. From the first caseta built in 1849 for the maintenance of peace and order during the fair, there are now at least 1,057 casetas scattered in the feria grounds. Most of them are owned by families/friends, associations and institutions. They also come in many sizes : from a small one to really big casetas; from a simple-decorated one to grand casetas. A typical caseta, which is decorated with bright, colourful artistic motifs, is equipped with its own bar, kitchen, toilet, dance floor and music system.
There are however a lot of public casetas where feria-goers like us could enter and celebrate. They are much-less decorated than the private ones, but hey, it is no big deal! They are still a place to party and socialize!
3. TRAJE DE GITANA
The feria in Sevilla is the time of the year when the women of Sevilla go out on streets wearing their beautiful, colourful and fashionable traje de gitanas. These traditional body-hugging flamenco dresses gove extra splendour and glamour on the feastivities. Thousands of women of all ages proudly parade on streets with these beautiful gowns, and their hair is surely the crowning glory, mostly tied up in a bun or braided, and decorated with flowers and peinetas. Amd what is strikingly remarkable s, no two flamenco dress is the same ! Every single one is a unique exemplar! And as a visiting tourist, the best way to be ïn ”is to wear one also during the feria!
4. THE SEVILLANA
Feria de Abril is the time for dancing the Sevillana – a typical song and dance of Sevilla’s feria. This is usually danced in pairs, doing similar movements and accompanied by lively music. It is danced inside the private and public casetas, and also on the streets. The Sevillanos make use of whatever space they could find to perform this dance!
5. PASEO DE CABALLOS
During the week-long celebration, carts and carriages drawn by well-groomed horses parade alongt he streets of Real dela Feria. Handsome groomsmen (and women), young and old, dressed in immaculately fashionable suits drive these horses. It is a spectacle not to be missed during the feria.
FERIA, A TIME OF CELEBRATION
Feria de Abril is not only for the people of Sevilla! It is for EVERYONE ! True, majorityof the casetas are private which you could enter only by invitation; but there are also a lot of public casetas which one can enter and celebrate. The atmosphere is the same! Fun, friendly, noisy and cozy! There are lots of opportunities to dance, drink, eat and socialize! The Sevillanos are friendly people. They make you feel welcome and be a part of this wonderful celebration. They are willing to strike a pose or two, of you only ask.
Hans and I had four days of fun celebrating this fair. We have experienced a spectacular time we would never forget; we have witnessed its splendour and glamour; we have met a lot of interesting and friendly people; we have interacted with the locals, even though language often posed as a barrier; we have drunk a lot of rebujitos; and we have paraded on the streets of La Real.
The Feria de Abril is one of a kind celebration. It brings members of familes closer toe ach other; it gives sense of harmony and unity among the the Sevillanos; it offers time to relax and unwind; it provides memorable sights and experiences; and most of all, it embraces people from other places.
FERIA DE ABRIL….thank you for all the memories…