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Fascinating Feria Facts and Figures

Those of you who will be heading off to the Seville Feria this week, weather and bus strike allowing - or even tonight for lunes de pescaito and the alumbrao - might be interested to read some facts and figures about this massive spring party. They will keep the conversation ticking over with your host, companions, or new friends to whom you are introduced in the true spirit of the Feria (I know many couples who met there, thanks to the dangerous combination of a few jugs of rebujito and some spirited head-tossing, foot-tapping and achingly fleeting body contact in the warm spring evening. Flirting as you dance – whatever happened to that?) If you’ve never been, or indeed never even heard of it, the Feria de Abril is a massive week-long party where people wearing frilly dresses (OK, only the women) parade around on horseback, eat, drink and dance Sevillanas till the wee hours, in casetas, tent-houses of varying sizes. These are owned by town councils, political parties, businesses, or groups of friends and family, and you need an invitation to get into the private ones (the latter two groups; the larger public casetas can be a bit rough, especially at night). How do you get an invitation? Someone you know has a caseta, so you drop hints of increasing unsubtlety, ``You have a caseta, that's impressive!’’ or ‘’I’ve never been to the Feria - I'd love to go, but I don't know anyone with a caseta.’’ And then you make sure you have your friend’s address and mobile number, as there are over 1,000 casetas arranged over 15 streets, and if they’re not there when you arrive, the doorman may not let you in. The excessive scale and consumption of this extraordinary event could only be found in Sevilla, where people remortgage their houses to pay for a caseta. You have to be seen to be a good host at the Feria, so spending vast amounts of money on entertaining your friends, family and business associates, and their friends and hangers-on (ie people like me), is a given. Once it’s all over, it’s time to re-cripple your bank balance to pay for your caravan to go to El Rocio. No wonder the Sevillanos love the expression, referring to something too restricting, ´´Mas apretado que un fin de mes`` - in other words, tighter than the end of the month. The Socialists claim to detest the Feria. So, to those figures – read ‘em and weep, feriantes. Oh, and by the way, don’t expect to reach anyone in an office for most of this week, they will either be out at the Feria (afternoon, evening and night), asleep or hungover (morning). Every day. The average Sevillano will spend 816,48 euros, of which 453,60 will be on food and 204,62 will be on attractions (which leaves a measly 150 euros on drink – these people must have very generous hosts); a further 443,52 on your outfit – flamenco dress (ladies) or traje corto (men), and 72,58 on your coche de caballos (horse-drawn carriage) – the only way to arrive in style, unless you are actually riding your own mount. Some people also go to the bullfights which take place at the Maestranza during Feria week, which adds on another few hundred euros. Some facts and figures you can fascinate/bore other people with. This year there are 1047 casetas – 25 family ones, 501 shared family ones, 310 business ones, 192 peñas (associations), 2 city council ones, 6 district ones and 11 municipal services ones. 400 people have put in 120,000 hours` work to get everything ready for tonight’s alumbrado. There are 850 attractions – these include 68 flower and water stalls, over 150 food stalls (nougat, candy floss, sweets, ice-cream and buns), six main rides, 56 small kids’ rides, 61 big rides – and one circus. Last but not least, the magnificent portada, which is my favourite so far because it's so different, and is quite modern (for Seville, at least). This year, the 163rd, it is themed around two main elements: the 100th anniversary of the first aeroplane flight in Seville, in a Bleriot XI - which left from the old aerodrome of La Tablada, just opposite the Feria recinto - and Seville’s NO8DO logo. It is 45 metres high, 50 metres wide, weighs over 250 tonnes, is made up of 268 parts, which eight people used 1500 kilos of paint to create over five months, has 20,000 lightbulbs, and was designed by Jose Manuel Peña Jimenez, who also designed 2008’s portada, based on the Costurero de la Reina. If you’re going to the Feria, dress up, get drunk, dance yourself silly, and make lots of new friends – that’s what the Sevillanos do. Par excellence.
Blog published on 18 April 2010