The Spanish culture is known to be colourful and full of life. This is what draws visitors annually, to experience the fun and vibrance that the country offers. The best time to experience the local culture is definitely during one of the traditional festivals. Every festival has its own relevance and a unique vibe, with memorable customs and traditions that are like no other in the world.
Just like so many historical, cultural and gastronomic festivals in Spain, like “Semana Sanata”, “Las Fallas”, Carnivals and much more, there is also one that every region and town celebrates big time as their local festivities in very colourful fairs.
The most famous fairs in Spain are the Seville, of course, the Malaga and the Jerez de la Frontera ones, all of them in Andalusia, for their traditions and the locals taking part on it. Very close to this region, in Extremadura, the cities and towns also celebrates its local fairs but in different times of the year.
What is “La Feria de Sevilla”?
“Feria de Sevilla” or from any other city and town in Spain, is a local fair, an event celebrated for a week-long at a different time of year, usually in Spring and Autumn, for each city and town throughout Spain. If you’re familiarised with the American concept of a fair: roller-coasters, games, fast-food and beverage, you’ll find the Spanish version very similar but with its own local traditions in music and colours.
Feria de Merida - Extremadura
The Spring Season is a special time in Seville because of two main events: “Semana Santa” and the “Feria de Abril” (also known as the April Fair or the Spring Fair).
Feria de Abril is considered to be one of the most colourful and cheerful parties in the world. This fair is held in Seville and officially starts on the night of the “alumbrao”, which is the inaugural event when all the fairground lights are beautifully lit up. It includes a monumental bright facade built every year at the entrance of the Fair to commemorate a monument of the city of Seville, popularly known as the ‘Portada´. It is lit with thousands of bulbs and is considered a traditional meeting place for Sevillians.
Until 1920, the entrance to the fair and symbol of the April Fair was an iron pedestrian walkway inspired in the Eiffel Tower. It was set up in 1896 and was known as “La Pasarela”.
This fair starts two weeks after Holy Week and last for a whole week. This year the fair would have been taken place during this week. It takes place at a big fairground (Real de la Feria), that is taken over by “casetas” and tents of different sizes, some belongs to Sevillian families, friends or Associations and some to bars. The fair area looks like small colourful town, frozen in time, tents acting as houses and lit with lanterns, with all the streets named after well-known bullfighters.
Over 1000’s of these “casetas” belong to the local families, friends, clubs, trade unions and other businesses. Most of them are private which means only family and friends can have access to it. One needs to be friends with a “Sevillano” to receive an invitation for this “caseta”. There are also many casetas with free entry and one can also enter those owned by political parties, trade unions and the one for tourists.
The inside of all the tents consists of at least one bar with drinks and tapas that are served, from around afternoon until early next morning. The “casetas” are also equipped with a sound system or a local live band.
The traditional food served in the tents and most expected is the “pescaíto frito” (fried fish) with other typical tapas and the “rebujito”, that is a drink made with manzanilla wine or Fino with a lemon-lime soda and some add it peppermint.
From noon until evening (especially on the first official day), the local parades in carriages or on horsebacks. There are also bullfights along with eating, drinking and dancing that continue through late night and sometimes, even next morning.
As you can notice, this week-long spectacle is all about dancing, drinking, eating and having fun with each other. Which goes to an end with a magnificent fireworks display over the Guadalquivir River.
The Fair is a treat for the locals as well as the tourists. It is recommended to learn basic Spanish as a guest at this Fair to show appreciation and acknowledge the efforts taken by the locals to organise something so colourful, traditional and memorable.
How is being celebrated this year?
This is probably one of the biggest highlights of Seville, where one could see the magnificent display of the local Andalusian culture. Andalusians love their fair and that is what makes it so spectacular and unique.
This year, due to COVID-19 and our quarantine time, the local authorities cancelled the celebration of the “Feria de Abril”. But what is surprising is that the neighbours have been celebrating their #feria2020 this whole week through their balconies and at home. Dressing up their balconies as “casetas”, wearing their fancy Andalusian clothes and preparing the typical “rebujitos” and tapas from fair time. So maybe this year we will miss this marvellous May celebration, but authorities are evaluating the possibility to move it to Autumn. We will be alert to news about this, meanwhile how about some rebujitos at home to have the “Feria de Abril” feeling? And be prepared for better times that soon will come! Seville is very well placed to move to Extremadura where you definitely will be surprised.
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