La Feria de Abril is one of the most special events in all the world. It’s simply a dream. I’m lucky enough to have gone the past two years with my sevillano friends and boyfriend, so it’s time I give a breakdown of what goes on at the Feria in the hopes of conveying all its glory.
What is La Feria de Abril?
La Feria de Abril is basically a Spanish wonderland. It’s a weeklong event in Sevilla that starts two weeks after the beloved Semana Santa ends, thus naturally falling in the month of April (and sometimes early May). Spring is a special time for many sevillanos because of these two events, referred to as Las Fiestas de Primavera. Partakers are welcomed to La Feria de Abril with the Portada, the entrance gate built every year according to a theme, that is magically lit up when the Feria kicks off on La Noche del Pescaito, or the night of fried fish. This night receives its name from the tradition of – you guessed it – eating fried fish on the first night of Feria. On the Feria grounds, red- and green-striped casetas, or tents, line streets named after famous toreros sevillanos, or Sevillian bullfighters. The casetas are mostly private, owned by families, groups of friends, companies, or organizations, but there are also public ones. Farolillos, or orb-shaped lanterns, are strung up whimsically and make polka-dot shadows on the ground by day but light up the sky by night. Horse-drawn carriages along with men and women on horseback ride around the grounds during the day, taking people from caseta to caseta or to and from the city center. Of course, Feria wouldn’t be an actual Feria without an amusement park. This area of rides and attractions is affectionately called La Calle del Infierno, or Hell Street, by locals.
What do you wear?
That’s easy – un traje de flamenca! (Also called un traje de gitana). Although some women don’t dress up every day, wearing a flamenca outfit is definitely the move for Feria. Pepe’s mother and sister have kindly lent me trajes to wear to the Feria, so I’ve been really lucky to dress up the past two years. El traje de flamenca is said to make every woman who wears it look beautiful, and I couldn’t agree more. The dress is often form-fitting, flattering the wearer’s figure. Volantes, or ruffles of various lengths, are typical in the skirt and also in the sleeves. Lunares, or polka dots, are a traditional pattern for the traje, but you’ll also see many solid-colored dresses as well as some flowered patterns. Mantoncillos, or shawls, are often placed and pinned along the shoulders. These vary in style and design, but I think some of the most beautiful are embroidered, or bordados. In regard to jewelry, statement earrings are very common, whether they be tear-drops, hoops, tassels, or any other style that fits the wearer’s look. The hair is often styled in some kind of bun or updo with a large flower placed on top of the head. However, hairstyles, like trajes, often vary according to personal taste or with general shifts in trends over the years. To stay comfortable during the long hours at Feria, espadrilles with a low to moderate heel are a must.
What do you eat?
Eating is a very important part of the Feria because 1. you’re in Spain, so of course, and 2. you gotta fuel up for all that dancing and drinking. Typical dishes include varieties of pescaito frito (breaded and fried chocos, or squid, are my fave); all kinds of montaditos, or sandwiches (lomo, or porkloin, and cheese are delish); plates of jamon, or ham; and fresh gambas, shrimp, or langostinos, prawns. Olives and fried almonds are also passed around as snacks. All these dishes are served up in the casetas themselves, which essentially serve the functions of bar, restaurant, dance floor, and hang-out all in one.
What do you drink?
Rebujito is by far the most characteristic and popular drink of the Feria. This sweet concoction is a mixture of Manzanilla, a light-colored sherry, and 7-Up, served in a typical catavinos glass. If you don’t love the taste of Manzanilla this drink may not be for you, and you also gotta be careful with the sugar hangover factor. Overall, though, rebujito is fun to drink and gives you a good buzz. In addition to rebujito, Manzanilla and Fino, another kind of sherry, are also staple drinks. Beers are common before lunch, and copas (most commonly gin and tonics) are popular later into the night. Feria often gets going before lunch, which means around 1 pm in Spain, and can easily carry into the early hours of the morning, so it’s definitely an eating and drinking marathon!
What else do you do?
Dance flamenco, of course! The most common dance at the Feria are Sevillanas, a type of flamenco. Somehow, everyone from Sevilla seems to dance Sevillanas perfectly: it’s like they’re born with this dance in their DNA. Anyone who knows me would not be surprised that I refused to go to the Feria without attempting to master this dance. So, after some serious hours of watching YouTube videos and dancing with Pepe’s sister Carmen, I learned the steps well enough to at least get by at the Feria. My work paid off in the end, and I gotta say that dancing Sevillanas at the Feria is so much fun! Haha. Sevillanas are often played by live groups in the casetas, where people dance the day and night away. When Sevillanas aren’t on, rumbas, or lighter versions of flamenco that don’t require specific steps, are also typical. Some casetas also throw in some ever-popular reggaetón.
La Feria de Abril is a beautiful thing. My memories crushing pescaito and montaditos while sipping rebujito and dancing Sevillanas under “un cielo de farolillos,” or a sky of lights, are some of my most cherished. Feria is also a symbol of sevillano pride and culture and sheds insight into Andalusian life. If you have any friends from Sevilla, I highly recommend that you jump on the bandwagon and make it to La Feria de Abril. Olé mi arma!
Check out photos and short video clips from the Feria below! The video clips are a must, as you gotta see and hear the action of the Feria to believe it!