The Feria de Abril de Sevilla or Seville Fair is held Seville, Spain and usually begins two weeks after the Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week. It is held on El Real de la Feria, in the Los Remedios area. The festival has it all – dancing, carnival rides, sherry, Sevillanas, toros, flamenco dresses and horses!
The Festival area is broken up into the fair zone called the Real de la Fería algon which hold the casetas and the Calle del Infierno (Hell Road) an amusement park or fun fair.
History of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla
The April Fair is one of the most international and popular of Seville’s fiestas. The origins of the Fair can be traced back to a cattle fair which took place on the grounds of the Prado de Sebastian in 1847. To serve farmers trading at the cattle market and to provide those visiting with a drink and a bite to eat, three marquees were set up in 1848. The number of ‘casetas’ grew year after year until the 1920s when the Feria de Abril had grown into the city’s biggest annual fiesta. In 1973 the event moved venue to its current location opposite the Parque de María Luisa in Barrio de los Remedios.
La noche del pescaíto
On the Saturday before the opening ceremony, friends and family with casetas will gather with to have a dinner called El Pescaíto or small fish. The night is also referred to as la noche del pescaíto or night of the fish.
The Alumbrao of Feria de Abril de Sevilla
The opening Ceremony of the Fair begins at midnight on the Monday which falls two weeks after Semana Santa. At midnight on Monday, the opening of the fair is marked by a traditional lighting ceremony at the fairground in an event known as the Alumbrao. People gather in front of the Portada, which is the, 50 meters wide and over 37 meters high, entrance way to the fair, lit with 20,000 and 25,000 of multi-colored light bulbs and having a different motif each year. At midnight the lights go on and the party begins.
The Paseo De Caballos
Tueday is the first official day of the festival, and this is when the horseback parades begin. The carriages roam through the fairground, the women wearing beautiful flamenco dresses called trajes de gitano or gypsy suits and the men in their traditional suits known as el traje corto.
The carriages are the only vehicles allowed inside the fairground which is a tradition dates back from the 1850s when people used to arrive and return from the Feria de Sevilla – a livestock fair then, to deal with breeders that used their own carriage.
Fortunately, this custom remains and you’ll have the chance to see the most beautiful horse carriages in Spain as there is rivalry between their owners on this. Don’t miss the carriages themselves as well as the horses’ ornaments and the costumes of the drivers and passengers. Everyone is dressed with the traditional gala clothing and it’s absolutely spectacular.
Closing Ceremony of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla
The festival ends the Sunday after it started, at midnight with a spectacular firework display over the Guadadalquivir River.
The Bullfights of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla
Each day the fiesta begins with the parade of carriages and riders, at midday, carrying Seville’s leading citizens to the bullring, where the bullfighters and breeders meet. During the fair there are afternoon bullfights each day. The fair draws top-name bullfighters from all around Spain and the bullfights here are considered some of the best of the year. They usually take place at 5:30 pm in the Plaza de Toros de Maestranza. The bullring in Seville is known as one of the most beautiful in Spain and is commonly known by the locals as “the cathedral”. You can purchase tickets directly from the bullring, however, due to the huge draw of the event, tickets can be quite expensive.
Casetas of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla
The Real de la Fería algon hold the casetas or striped tents of varying sizes. Much of the site is taken up by private areas for local families, groups of friends, businesses, clubs, trade associations and political parties. There are more than 1000 of these ‘casetas’ in the showground which are fully equipped with a bar, kitchen and usually a large sound system. From early afternoon the drinking starts, the tapas appear, the music gets louder and by the evening there will be plenty impromptu flamenco dancing going on. But these are privately owned tents so unless you have a sevillano friend who invites you along you won’t be able to go into them.
You do have the option to enter a number of open casetas – the information office at the entrance to the fair will tell you which they are. The fiesta mayores, each of six districts of seville, political parties’ ones; the trades unions; one called la marimorena which serves vegan food offer them open casetas.
The Festival area is illuminated the length of its streets by thousands of covered light bulbs called farolillos which is a kind of Chinese lantern.
The ground of the streets is covered with albero which is a type of yellow colored clay which comes from the neighboring town of Alcalá de Guadair, used traditionally in Seville in the gardens and the famous Bullring.
Calle del Infierno at the Feria de Abril de Sevilla
The amusement park of the Feria is located in an area called La Calle del Infierno, which can be translated as Hell’s Road. This huge area which holds more than 500 activities. If you like big wheels go for it because the aerial views of the Feria that you have from the top are spectacular.
In addition to the traditional rides such as the big wheel, bumper cars and a roller coaster (sometimes even more than one!) there are tombolas, a bingo hall, the camel race, the water pistols and many more attractions. Actually, believe it or not there’s even a circus with clowns, trapeze artists, tamers and lots of animals!
There are also food areas and food stalls where you can eat hamburgers, hot dogs, sweets, churros with chocolate!
Tips for Visiting Feria de Abril de Sevilla
- Choose your footware with care – the shoes will get dirty with the “albero”, which is the soil on the ground which is the the same as used in the bullring.
- It may be worth eating before you go, the public casetas are usually quite busy so you will have a hard time reaching the counter and ordering any any of the relatively expensive food or drink.
- The Day is better than the night – most locals gather inside the casetas at night and nothing really happens outside them, except for seeing people walking from one caseta to another. After 8pm the sides of the casetas are allowed to be put down – so there is not much to see!
- Don’t drink too much ‘rebujito‘ a mix of Manzanilla – a Spanish sherry wine which is mixed with lemonade.
- Just inside the entrance to the fairground, you’ll find an information booth where you can pick up a map and information. The also offer a daily free walking tour around the fairgrounds with a local guide.