Seville April Fair

Seville April Fair or La Feria de Abril de Sevilla food, parades,
bullfighting, horses, flamenco oh my!


The first Seville April Fair was held on the 18th, 19th and 20th of April 1847 and has evolved from just being a cattle exhibition to an elaborate celebration.  In 1863 was the first time the circus Price came to town and 1864 fireworks were added to the celebration.  In 1914 the fair lasted five days but unfortunately with the start of the Civil War in Spain the fair was suspended until 1949.  In 1953 the fair lasted six days.  In 1966 the prince of Monaco and his wife Grace Kelley visited the fair along with president Kennedy’s widow and in 1968 La Reina Sofia attended the celebrations for the very first time.  1973 was an important year as the fair relocated from its original locale The Prado de San Sebastian to its present location the district of Los Remedios, just outside the city center opposite the Maria Luisa Park.


In 2011 the Seville April fair will take place from the 3rd to the 8th of May starting the night of the “pescaito frito” (fried fish) accompanied by either a manzanilla or sherry as a ritual before the “alumbrao”, the official start of the celebration, with the lighting of the lamps by the mayor and it ends the following Sunday with the turning off of the lamps and the castle fireworks display after the “Maestranza” (bullfight).

The “alumbrao” (the lighting) is equivalent to the “chupinazo” (loud bang) of the San Fermin celebration. At midnight on Monday the mayor of Sevilla turns on the switch and 20,000 bulbs like a giant domino gradually light up the Real de La Feria (fairgrounds) in its entirety.

“La Portada” (the cover) is a classic tradition of the Seville April Fair, it functions as a door of presentation to the festivities.  It consists of a large arch that each year has a different design and commemorates either an important item or event in the city.  “La Portada” of 2011 marks the first circumnavigation of Earth, in blue recalling the color of the sea, will cover three major arches (as it is usually the case) that draw on the three great circles, one representing the ship Victoria, the central one a compass rose of the city and the latter consisting of a sphere design from a ball.  Due to its large scale, can reach up to 50 meters in height, it usually becomes a must meeting point for all inside the Real de la Feria. 

The “casetas” booths are the soul of the Seville April fair combining the most popular flavor of the celebration through the kindness of those who manage them, the curiosity of the tourists, music and the typical products they offer.  Since the mid nineteenth century the Fair had tents or shaded areas where the livestock trade took place. Over time these spaces were transformed in to classic fair booths where attendees can taste traditional recipes of the Andalusian region, drink Andalusian wines as well as enjoy flamenco performances. 

Another typical location in the fair is the “calle del infierno” or Hell Street an area preferred by children.  This street with a nickname that might seem intimidating to some and appropriate to others depending on the individual, houses attractions designed both for children and adults wanting to have fun.  Clowns, entertainers and various shows along with all kinds of food and drink offerings are the ingredients that make this area chaotic and full of fun.  Adults can have fun too by going on the roller coaster, the Viking ships, the UFO rides or trying their luck at the shooting galleries.  Finding this street is easy just follow the noise.

The Feria de Sevilla has other ingredients that are part of the deepest identity of the celebration, las “sevillanas” a colorful and exciting style of dance and song heard and seen in almost all of the casetas.  Horse drawn carriages give a special charm to the celebration, a tradition that has continued since the nineteenth century and the only mode of transportation allowed inside the fair grounds.  Decoration of the carriages, part of a fierce competition among owners, becomes more complex and elaborate each year.  At noon every day there is a procession called the “Paseo de Caballos” in which local girls in their best flamenco outfits are pulled through the city in beautiful carriages by magnificent horses.  Horses are a big part of the fair but not the only animals being celebrated; bulls play a major role during the festivities in the Plaza de la Maestranza considered one of the most emblematic bullrings in the world.  In the evening some of the year’s top bullfights take place here with tickets selling out well in advance so make sure to get them early.

La Feria de Sevilla is an extraordinary celebration showing some of the best that Andalucia has to offer and definitely worth experiencing.  In summary, the April Fair is a tradition that paralyzes the city for a week a meeting point not only for farmers who sell their products but entire families celebrating a special time, La Feria de Sevilla. 


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