The following is a guest post written exclusively for Spain Savvy by Fiona Flores Watson
Have you ever seen a photograph showing a group of Spanish women dancing in a long, brightly-colored, figure-hugging frilled dress, and flowers in their hair? Most likely the image is from the Feria de Abril, Seville’s biggest and most colorful annual social event.
What is the Feria?
The Feria is an eight-day party of high-spirited, non-stop drinking and dancing, as only the Spanish know how. This year, it runs from 15-22 April.
Where does it happen?
In a vacant lot to the south-east of Seville, lined with over 1,000 striped tents called casetas. You can get a map of the recinto (fairground) from the two information desks, at the main entrance and next to the amusement park, Calle del Infierno.
What happens there?
Sevillanos get together with friends, family and business colleagues in the casetas, and spend their time eating, drinking and dancing. The atmosphere is joyous and excited – people spend all year looking forward to the Feria. Most casetas are private, owned by groups of friends, associations or companies, but a few are public. Every afternoon there’s a procession of horse-drawn open carriages and people on horseback – men in tight pants, cropped jackets and Cordobés hat, and ladies in elegant side-saddle skirt, or figure-hugging frilly flamenco dress. You could be looking at a scene from a few centuries ago, so little has changed since the Feria started as a livestock fair in 1847.
What do they eat and drink at the Feria?
The drink of the Feria is manzanilla, a pale, dry sherry, which you can also drink mixed with 7 UP to make a cocktail called rebujito. Favorite foods at the Feria include jamón ibérico (Iberian ham), salmorejo (chilled tomato soup) and gambas (shrimp).
What can I see there?
The Feria is ideal for people-watching, and heaven for photographers, with all that vibrant color and movement. You’ll see women of every shape in flamenco dresses of all shades (lime, sea-green, cerise and terracotta are big trends for 2018), walking along the sandy streets or sitting in a carriage, four or five primary colors together, like of flock of exotic birds. And, of course, dancing Sevillanas – the flamenco-like dance of the Feria – arms aloft, dresses swirling around them as they spin and stamp.
Can I get into a private caseta?
If you’ve been lucky enough to get an invitation from a socio (member) of a caseta, then you’ll get the insider’s view, and be welcomed into the party. If not, the public ones are fun too – bigger and possible rowdier, but with plenty of atmosphere.
What should I wear?
Feria dresses need to fit perfectly – not too loose, not too tight – so you may be better off accessorizing your own outfit with a flower in the hair, dangly earrings and a mantón (embroidered fringed shawl). You’re be walking a lot, so wear comfortable shoes – try wedge espadrilles with a small heel.
Walking around the recinto and soaking up the energy and spectacle of the Feria is one of the most memorable afternoons you will spend in Seville – even better, stay until night falls, the lights come on, and the excitement ratches up a notch. Inhibitions fall away, and after a few rebujitos you’ll be dancing Sevillanas like a local.