Why should you go to Seville to experience the Feria de Abril?
I have just landed down from Seville, Spain and I could not wait to write to tell you all about the wonderful experience I had at the Feria De Abril in Sevilla and why I believe you should also go in your lifetime. Read on to find out more about it…
Recently, I have really realised what’s most important in life and to me it is truly the experiences in my life and the people I have shared them with. My whole experience at the Feria de Sevilla was no exception. I was invited by my wonderful friend Emily (who also has a blog @thisisthemilk) and her boyfriend who took me under their wings and truly treated me to an amazing day at the Feria.
Where my interest in Sevillanas began:
Believe it or not, a six years ago I hadn’t even heard of the Feria de Abril and you may not have either. But my friend Emily introduced me to it five years ago when she asked me to join her in ‘Sevillana’ dance classes once a week in a small studio in Barcelona where we both lived at the time. I didn’t speak much Spanish then but I figured I could surely just copy the dance instructor and all would be fine…what could go wrong? Haha! It was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be but also so much fun! There are so many steps and after months of classes we could just about remember them all. To this day we still remember calls of ‘paso de Sevillana’ and shouts of ‘Pavo Real’ where we were forced to do our best peacock impressions and puff out our chests rather than look down at our feet to see if they were moving in the right direction!
That year we went to the Feria de Abril in Barcelona with our class and instructor and danced as much as we could. Who would have known that five years later I would be in the home of the Feria de Abril in Seville itself…
Us, five years ago at our first Feria de Abril together in Barcelona
When to go:
The Feria de Abril takes place in Seville roughly two weeks after the Easter celebrations. This year it wasn’t even in April. It took place from the 4th – 11th May. If you want to go next year I recommend looking ahead to see the exact dates before booking your flights. It is generally a holiday week in Sevilla for locals but not for everyone in other countries or even other parts of Spain so I do recommend checking and booking it off in advance if you can!
It begins with a big turning on of the lights on the gate ceremony on the first day which I heard is a cool tradition that many people attend. The gate is pretty impressive, especially when lit up at night.
The gates to the Feria during the day and lit up at night
What to wear:
Before you even arrive you need to consider your outfit. Everyone dresses up in traditional dress, the men in suits and sometimes hats, the women in Sevillana dresses, decorative scarves, broaches and flowers in their hair. What I loved is that it was special for everyone to join in and dress up, from toddlers in matching dresses to their ‘mamis’ or the same shirts as their older brothers, to the grannys ‘abuelas’ and grandads ‘abuelos’ who also took time, made an effort and certainly looked the part. Women can hire the dresses from the special dress shops which are open year round, you can get a dress in what seems like every colour under the rainbow and with as many ruffles as you can fit! You can also buy them for around 300 euros, or even get them handmade to fit your every specification. There are shops which specialise in flowers and they should always be worn on top of your head, in the centre. Years ago at my first Feria I wore my rose at the side and clearly looked like a tourist! This year I wore them in the middle and the locals were shocked to hear that I was from Scotland and thought I looked like a true Sevillana – I was delighted to look the part! I must of course thank my friend Emily for letting me borrow her beautiful handmade dress. It was absolutely stunning and I loved wearing it!
An example of the dress shops which can be found in the centre of Seville.
Once I was dressed with flowers firmly secured in my hair we were ready to hit the road and head to my first Feria de Abril in Sevilla…
Dress and flowers borrowed from @thisisthemilk, my lovely friend
What time of day should you go?
As I hear the Feria basically goes non stop for a week. There may be a slight gap in the festivities around 4-9am but I also heard that sometimes the casetas basically have what we call in Scotland a ‘lock in’ where they carry on when they should be closed. From experience it seems like there are basically two shifts: the first shift from about midday to 8/9pm, during this time you will literally find all ages from babies to grandparents. If you are lucky you will experience the special song and dance about finding a bug in your kitchen and trying to kill it – which I must say was hilarious and a personal highlight for me! haha! The second shift if you like starts around midnight and ends….who knows? In the ‘wee hours’ if you know what I mean. I believe this is where most of the dancing happens, although there are musicians playing pretty much all day so you should get your dancing fix anytime of day. I’m glad I got to see it during the day and at night because it has something to offer at both times.
Photos from during the day and at night
What should I expect?
When you arrive you can expect it to be bustling with people, you will see and hear a buzz of people celebrating the feria with family and friends, you will see some taking rides in traditional horse and carriages, you will smell the food coming from stalls and casetas and you will probably see people drinking jugs (jarras) of ‘Rebujito’ a traditional cocktail of Sherry (Manzanilla or Fino) and soft drinks such as lemonade.
How does it work?
So on site there will be lots and lots of ‘Casetas’ (stand/ little houses). The vast majority of these are private, they are owned by families and friends and will have a guard on the door to ensure only that family or invited guests are allowed in. This is actually because these families pay year round for their casetas and once you are invited in you are treated like a guest and the family will treat you with as much food and drinks as you can handle. (This is of course my experience, the family were so very generous and I cannot thank them enough)
The public casetas are usually larger and as the name suggests are available for everyone to enter. So if you are visiting and don’t know any locals I would go for those ones! There will be live musicians, traditional singers and instruments in each caseta at one point or another. There are electric fans inside so you can keep cool whilst dancing, despite the heat of 30+ degrees outside. You can get traditional Spanish food and drinks such as jamon (ham) tortilla de patatas (omelette with potatoes) pollo (chicken) and different kinds of fish, mussels etc. You can also find beers, wine, gin tonics and the famous rebujito.
So, if you like music, dancing, eating, drinking or just immersing yourself in the cultural traditions of others I would highly recommend a day or more spent at the Feria de Abril in Seville! I had the most wonderful experience and I hope you do too!
And of course thank you to Emily and Pepelu, my hosts for the Feria! Your generosity will not be forgotten!
Thank you for reading!
The Wee Wanderer x x x
All details given are my own experience. If you have anything you would like to add, have been yourself , would like to go or have any questions for me, please comment below!