A week of music, food, dancing and joy at Seville

Seville FairThe 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 fair generally begins two weeks after the Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week. This year it happens to be from May 6, 2014 to May 11, 2014.

Chatting on horseback, a common sight at the Fair. Photo: spanishsabores.com
Chatting on horseback, a common sight at the Fair. Photo: spanishsabores.com

The fiesta officially begins at midnight on Monday with the “lighting test”, the illumination of the thousands of multi-coloured light bulbs in the fairground and adorning the main gateway, which is almost 50 metres high and has a different motif every year. Once inside the gate you come to the “casetas”, and it is here where you really experience the fair. These tents belong to groups of friends and associates, and are a family space where acquaintances, relations and guests are welcomed in and plied with delicious food and wine; there is singing, good conversation and of course, “sevillanas”, the local version of flamenco dancing. The lively and festive atmosphere spills over into the area outside the tents: people usually dance in the street, and the friendly personality of the Sevillian people will entice passers-by into the celebration. You should bear in mind that most of the stalls are privately owned and can be entered only by invitation from the members or their friends. There are however public tents which are open to all. The information office at the entrance to the fair will tell you which they are.

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. Next to the fairground is the Calle del Infierno (Hell’s Street), a lively recreational area with a host of attractions for children and adults, and stands selling cold drinks and snacks. Another vital component is the bullfight: every afternoon people crowd into the Plaza de la Maestranza bullring to see the day’s bullfight (tickets and passes can be bought in advance by telephone or on the Maestranza bullring’s own website). And after a week of merrymaking there is a spectacular fireworks display at midnight on Sunday to send off the April Fair for another year.

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