|Each caseta is like an individual party with dancing and singing.|
175 years dancing sevillanas
Those from Seville, Andalucia or, in fact, anyone who really wants to enter into the spirit of the "feria" dress up in their finery, ideally the traditional "traje de corto" (short jacket, tight trousers and boots) for men and the "farales" (flamenco style dress) for the women. The Seville fair is becoming increasingly international and attracting more visitors than ever before. And for local residents, this is the time of year that all worries (and work!) are cast to one side. Schools are on holiday, businesses shut down, the city is asleep, while the fairgrounds are abuzz with activity from noon to night - and beyond.
The "Feria of Abril" has not always been considered such a time of festivity. It dates back to 1847 when two councillors, Jose Maria Ybarrra and Narciso Bonaciata requested permission from the Town Council of Seville to organise an agricultural livestock fair. Isabel II agreed to the proposal and the first fair was held on the 18th April of the same year at the Prado de San Sebastian on the outskirts of the city.
It only took a mere twelve months before an air of festivity began to slowly transform the fair, mainly due to the emergence of the first three "casetas" (stands), namely the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier, the Town Hall and the Casino of Seville. It began to acquire a country-urban image where the folkloric and cultural traditions of the city were evident. In the twenties, it reached its peak and was converted into what we all know today, a veritable small town with well marked streets lined with casetas.
|Over 150 years dancing, Sevillanas!|
The casetas which today are similar to small, brightly coloured marquees, make up the basic element of the event. Each caseta is like an individual party with dancing and singing, a bar where fino and the lighter manzanilla are served with plenty of chat and good cheer. Each caseta is distinctive in some way and gaily adorned with flowers and decorations. This year the fair "El Real" has welcomed one thousand and thirty seven casetas distributed throughout the fifteen main streets.
The fiesta begins at midday, with the parade of carriages and riders; a tradition where economic and social power are exhibited. The parade ends at the beginning of the afternoon and the carriages make their way to the bullring, the Real Maestranza where the best bullfighters and breeders meet. At night, the fairgrounds are utterly transformed, the crowds continue to pour in, all ages, all nationalities and all committed to having a thoroughly good time. The dancing, fun and festivity continue into the early hours of the morning, at first in the streets and later only within the casetas themselves.
The Feria of April has been going strong for one hundred and fifty years. With this in mind, the Town Hall organises exhibitions from time to time which shows the fair's evolution and includes some spectacular photographs. Over the years many top film stars have visited the "feria" such as Anthony Quinn, Orson Welles and Grace Kelly. For many, attending the Seville Fair remains a highlight on the annual social calendar.
And they continue to come….The crème de la crème of Spanish society, aristocracy, politicians, actors and artists. All of them make time in their agenda to enjoy a fino and enjoy the festivities firsthand. Seville is a magnificent city in its own right but the feria, for many, is the one event of the year that really sets this city apart.
This article was first published in the Andalucia, Costa del Sol Magazine.
Buy tickets for Seville Feria Guided Tour
SEVILLE APRIL FAIR PRIVATE TOURSEVILLE APRIL FAIR PRIVATE TOUR
Enjoy the exclusive private tour for Viator customers at the Feria de Sevilla. Meet the most international Fair where flamenco and fiesta come together in a very peculiar origin. Sevilla dresses up in its big week. We will be picked up at the hotel by horse-drawn carriage to move to the fairgrounds. More than a thousand "booths" where gastronomy and folklore will be waiting for us. We will take a guided tour of the site and end up enjoying the Andalusian cuisine with a good wine from Jerez in a private "booth". At the end we will move to the hotel.