For one week, April 15-21, a huge area of the city of Sevilla is transformed into an amusement park with casetas, or canvas tents where important local families, friends, businesses, and political parties host parties that last all day and all night. This extraordinary spectacle includes dancing, drinking, eating, and socializing taking place from early in the afternoon until sunrise every day of the fair.
When and where
The Seville Fair traditionally starts two weeks after Semana Santa, in a huge area in Los Remedios, next to the river. This is a week of serious dancing, drinking, eating and socialising. From around midday until early evening – especially on Tuesday, the first official day – Sevilla society parades around the fairground in carriages or on horseback. There are also daily bullfights , generally considered the best of the season.
The April Fair is one of the most international and popular of Seville’s fiestas. It was created in 1847 as a cattle fair, and over time the festive atmosphere that had grown up around the occasion took over the business aspect, and it became a permanent fixture in Seville’s social calendar. For a week more than a thousand casetas or tents installed in the fairground area become the second home of the city’s inhabitants, a place where people come together to have fun and share experiences until the early hours of the morning.
The Real de la Feria, where the Feria takes place, covers 1.2 km2 and includes the amusement park, called Calle de Infierno (Hell Street), and the casetas, canvas tent pavillions of varying sizes arranged along 12 streets. Numbering over 1,000, they belong to eminent local families, groups of friends, businesses, clubs, trade associations and political parties.
Most of the casetas are private and open only to members and their guests. If you have a Sevillano friend with a caseta, you could be lucky enough to receive a much-coveted invite. Alternatively, there are also seven public casetas – the caseta municipal and one for each of six districts of Seville.
Inside the tents the drinks begin to flow, and tapas are served, from around 1:30pm till early next morning. Each caseta is equipped with a bar, kitchen and sound system or live entertainment playing Sevillanas. Throughout the fair, people wear typical Andalusian dress: the men wear the typical outfit of the farmworker, and the women wear flamenco or gypsy dresses. By day the fair is filled with horsewomen, riders and richly festooned carriages. This is what is known as the horse and carriage parade, in which you can take part by renting a buggy with a driver from the regular service.
Find more practical information at http://www.visitasevilla.es/
Cover image By Sevilla Congress & Convention Bureau, via Wikimedia Commons