Feria de Abril de Sevilla
The feria season is upon us – the first big feria of the year (and one of the biggest in Spain) is the ‘Feria de Abril de Sevilla’ (Seville April Fair).
Once the solemnity, processions and drums of Easter week are left behind, it is time to celebrate…the turn of sevillanas, flamenco dresses, equine Andalucians and, above all, the joyful spirit and good nature of the people of Sevilla.
The feria is held in the Andalusian capital of Sevilla and dates back to 1847, when it was originally organized as a livestock fair by two Basque councillors born in Northern Spain. Queen Isabel II agreed to the proposal, and on 18 April 1847 the first feria was held at the Prado de San Sebastian, on the outskirts of the city.
It took only one year before an air of festivity began to transform the feria and during the 1920s the fair evolved into the spectacle that it is today.
The feria officially begins at midnight on Monday, two weeks after Semana Santa, and runs for six days, ending on the following Sunday.
Each day the fiesta begins at midday with the parade of riders and carriages -carrying Seville’s leading citizens -which make their way to the bullring, La Real Maestranza, where the bullfighters and breeders meet.
For the duration of the feria a vast area on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River is totally covered in rows of casetas (individual decorated marquee tents which are temporarily built on the fairground).
These casetas usually belong to prominent families of Seville, groups of friends, clubs, trade associations and political parties. From around nine at night until the early hours of the following morning – at first in the streets and later within each caseta – there are crowds partying and dancing sevillanas, drinking manzanilla, and eating tapas.
For the festivities the men and women of Sevilla dress up in their finery, ideally the traditional “traje corto” (short jacket, tight trousers and boots) for men and the “faralaes” or “trajes de flamenca” (flamenco-style dresses) for women. The men traditionally wear hats called “cordobés”. Nowadays, sadly, the women tend to overshadow the men as standard suits have replaced trajes cortos as men’s most common outfit.
This year…as often seems the case…the Feria de Abril was blighted by bad weather. Flamenco dresses just don’t look right with raincoats …
… and even the damp horses looked a bit disgruntled ! Yet when the sun re-appears colour explodes all around …
… the revellers reveal their finery…the riders show off their horses amidst the crowds …
… there is all the fun of the fair for the youngsters…music plays all the while…and the tempting aromas of gastronomic delicacies helps create a heady atmosphere for the senses.
All this with the enchantment of nights that do not end until well into the early hours. A bit of rain cannot dampen these festive spirits – but maybe next year the weather will be kinder!
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