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Sunday, January 22, 2012 (read 49932 times)
Feria de Abril Sevilleby Kimberly
In the spring in the city of Seville in southern Spain, a week-long celebration takes place that draws over one million people a year. The event is called “La Feria de Sevilla” or “La Feria de Abril” literally meaning the Seville’s Fair or April Fair, and begun in 1847 as a cattle trading fair. Over the years Seville’s April Fair has become an internationally known celebration of flamenco, bullfighting and fun. Flamenco is an integral part of the tradition because Seville is considered to be the cultural epicenter of flamenco culture and music. Many of the flamenco’s most famous artists, songs and composers are from the city.
The Seville Fair mainly takes place in the fair zone called the Real de la Fería algon the Guadalquivir River. A temporary “tent city” is born on a rectangular piece of land that measures one mile by 700 yards. The make-shift “tents” or as they are known in Spanish “casetas” divide the land into different dance halls and private areas that are filled each evening with dancing and life lasting from 9 in the evening until 6 or 7 in the morning. The women are known to dress in their most spectacular gowns, usually brightly colored flamenco dresses inspired by Gypsy fashion.
The most common beverage drunk in during the Seville Fair is Spanish sherry wine, very famous in southern Spain. Often, to battle the heat of April in Seville, the sherry wine is mixed with 7-up or sprite to produce a drink known as “rebujito”.
The casetas are usually hosted by wealthy families from Sevilla, night clubs, trade unions, political parties, or city organizations. Every tent is set up differently with a unique atmosphere and different customs. Access to most of the tents is on an invite only basis but some are open to the public so that the many tourists and locals who do not have connections in high places can still enjoy the April Fair. Visitors roam around the fairgrounds until they find an open tent with a good vibe to have a drink, watch performances and experience the atmosphere.
A well known caseta is called “Er 77” and is famous for pouring wine from buckets and having cots available for naps. The "Los Duendes de Sevilla" (The Goblins of Seville), named after a painting by Alvarez Quintero, is another famous tent in Seville’s Fair. There are many other different themed tents from various groups including left wing politics, anarchists and much more.
In addition the the long nights of stomping, clapping and celebrating in the casetas, La Feria de Sevilla also offers a wide range of other events during the day. Andalusian horse parades with decorated carriages are daily processions as they make their way through the city and fairground. The equestrian events are usually accompanied by singing groups who serenade crowds with traditional Sevillian ballads and guitar music. Many of the parade participants are members of Seville’s upper class aristocracy and normally dawn exquisite traditional Andalusian outfits with wide-brimmed “bolero” hats and short-cropped jackets.
Of course, not to be missed during the April Fair are the afternoon bullfights. The Seville Fair draws top-name bullfighters from all around Spain. The bullfights here are considered some of the best of the year. The bullfights take place at 5:30 pm in the Plaza de Toros de Maestranza. The bullring in Seville is known as one of the most beautiful in Spain and is commonly known by the locals as “the cathedral”. For visitors to Seville during the April Fair, tickets can be purchased directly at the bullring. However, due to the huge draw of the event, tickets can be quite expensive.
La Feria de Abril is an ideal event to experience typical Andalusian culture – relaxed and inense, food and culture, art and fun.
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