Seville Feria - Facts

The paper lanterns that are strung across the fairgrounds first made their appearnce on the scene at the 1877 fair. © Michelle Chaplow
The paper lanterns that first made their appearnce on the scene at the 1877 fair.

Interesting Facts about Seville’s April Fair

Seville’s April fair has a long and varied history. Here are a few facts and figures associated with its past and its present traditions.

Turning on the fair

No one who visits the Seville Fair can avoid the Gateway, called the “Portada” in Spanish. The huge structures gracing the entrance to all the big fairs are an important part of the Fería decoration (considered, in fact, to be works of art) with Seville’s Gateway modelled after the entrance to the University of Seville, historically a tobacco factory. The fair officially begins when the mayor very ceremoniously turns on the lights – starting with the 22,000 bulbs that cover the Gateway. From there, the rest of the fairgrounds light up, section by section in a wave that has become a tradition that even makes newspaper headlines every year.

An April fair in May?

Seville’s fair is officially known as the April Fair, but in fact, it hasn’t always been celebrated entirely in April and once, it even had to be celebrated in May. That was in 1973 when the fair changed its venue from the Prado de Sebastian grounds to the present location in el Barrio de los Remedios. The dates that year were cause for serious concern and locals solved the problem by at least turning on the lights on April 30th at 9:00 in the evening.

What does a fair have to do with Holy Week?

Traditionally – according to local sources - Seville’s fair is always supposed to take place two weeks after Holy Week – another huge celebration in Seville - one that locals need time to recover from before diving into the next round of festivities. However, because Holy Week moves around each year, this can be a cause for problems if it means the fair can’t happen in April (remember this is the April fair, after all). Therefore, it has been officially stipulated that if the “Semana Santa” occurs so late it pushes the fair into May, the fair can then be moved forward so that at least part of it takes place in April.

Believe it or not, way back in 1848 the fair partially coincided with Semana Santa, but being that the Holy Week celebrations were a bit different back then, it didn’t cause major problems. This would never be allowed today.

FerIa Rules

The Sevilla Fair might be all about drinking, dancing and parading about on horseback, but don’t think for a minute this means there are no rules for participants. In fact, the rules are very strict (and serious?). For example, the caseta tents must have their curtains pulled back from 12:00 mid day till 8:00 at night –and also while the lighting is turned on.
Horses and carriages are also expected to abide by the rules and are therefore only allowed to parade about the grounds from noon till 8:00 in the evening at which time we suppose everyone should be inside the caseta tents, curtains closed, getting down to the real business of drinking and dancing!

Feria Paraphernalia

Each and every decorative element used in Seville’s spring fair has its own unique history. The paper lanterns that are strung across the fairgrounds first made their appearance on the scene at the 1877 fair. The trademark “caseta” tents were first set up in 1893 and the fireworks first light up fería skies in Seville all the way back in 1864.

Seville Feria Dates

 

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