5 years, 6 months ago
Last year we brought you colourful scenes from the Ferias de Andalucia in the south of Spain. Now that the weather’s finally turning and the sun’s been switched back on, we’re taking a look at perhaps the region’s most famous festival: the Feria de Abril de Sevilla, when reining in the syllables also called Feria de Abril or Feria de Sevilla.
With its origins dating back to the mid 19th century, Feria de Abril began life as a livestock meet in 1847 and was held in the Prado de San Sebastian area of Seville‘s suburbs, a part of the city now home to the University and a large bus station. The popularity and size of the Feria grew quickly and it became as much a social occasion for neighbouring families and communities to meet as it was an opportunity for livestock dealings. By the early twentieth century it was well-established as one of the highlights of southern Spain’s calendar and a place to be and be seen.
The fact that the Feria de Abril traditionally begins at midnight exactly two weeks after Easter Monday goes a long way to set the party precedent it is famous for. Due to Easter’s late arrival in 2014, this will mean that the Feria de Abril will actually fall in May, starting on Monday 5 May. There will follow six very loud days of music, dancing, decorations, eating and drinking until finally the locals and visitors decide they need a rest on Sunday 11 May.
Nowadays, the Feria de Abril de Sevilla is considered the country’s largest and most famous fair and is held in the southern district of Los Remedios where it spreads across an area of many square miles, allowing for livestock tents, live entertainment stages, a theme park and rows and rows of casetas. These traditional marquees are set up by local families and businesses for their eating, drinking and socialising though many are open to the public too. Getting there is easy with special busses from the city centre, and in many ways it’s recommended that you don’t stay too close to the Feria just so you have the option to leave the party and recover if needed!
Feria de Abril still keeps a focus on its roots in livestock and is widely recognised as the official start to Spain’s bullfighting season. The bullfighting at Feria de Abril is held across the Canal de Alfonso XIII at the magnificent Maestranza arena. While the sport remains a contentious matter in Spain and abroad, there is no holding back on the pomp and ceremony of the tradition, with matadors parading in their finest traje de luces outfits – translated aptly as ‘suit of lights’.
Clothes are a crucial part of the Feria, with many visitors coming just to see the colour and frills of flamenco dresses donned through six days of celebrations. You’ll almost certainly see the dresses in action as men and women take to the floor to perform organised and impromptu Sevillanas dancing, a type of flamenco music and dance specific to the Seville region.
For the full authentic experience ensure your Feria is fuelled with a glass or more of rebujito, a sweet but powerful drink made by mixing sherry and lemonade and when it’s time to eat, among the feast of tapas available make sure you try pescaito frito, a regional dish of assorted fried seafood, and a plate of solomillo al whiskey, pork cooked in whiskey!
While the Feria de Abril is reason enough to go to Seville, there are other advantages to visiting the city in spring, not least the famously sweet sight and smell of the orange trees scattered around this beautiful city. May is also one of the better months for weather as the summer in Seville can prove too hot for some. For this reason, May is a great time to explore the many miles of bike lanes that have made Seville one of Spain’s best cycling cities; hop on a Sevici bike, the public bike scheme that visitors can use too with trips of under 30 minutes being free. Enjoy the calm of a lazy bike ride along the banks of the GuadalquivirRiver before heading to the Feria for an evening overdose of colour, light and music.
Have you ever been to the Feria de Abril in Seville?