Experience Seville’s famous FERIA DE ABRIL – Dance & Travel into vibrant Spanish Culture!

  • taniagoh
  • Apr 20, 2024

Seville’s famous Feria de Abril is a vibrant festival in Spain you should not miss at least once in your lifetime!

In this video, come along with me and vicariously explore the Feria with a local – my flamenco maestro, Manuel Betanzos! 

This time, I’m visiting it during the day, and it’s a different affair from the night. 

You’ll get to see lots of colours – it’s a sea of beautiful people, decorated horses and horse carriages, a thousand tents of revelry. 

Of course, this is where the Sevillanas dance is most danced! It’s a social scene celebrating traditions and a lifestyle. 

But, I’m in a bit of a quandary as I left all my Feria dresses in Singapore. 

Uh oh! 😳😅

Note – It’s about dress code, etiquete and being well-presented! 

 

What do people usually wear at the Feria?

There is a ‘dress code’ which gives the whole festivity, the fair grounds and Sevilla, the city a distinctive look: very colourful, stylish, fun and vibrant. 

I feel like I’m walking through the biggest Spanish fashion ground (admittedly somewhat under-dressed)!

The ladies wear ‘Traje de Flamenca’ or ‘Traje de Gitana’ (flamenco or gypsy dress) and they look just fabulous. 

You style your dress with mantoncillos (little shawls), flowers, hair combs and ear rings.

(Despite the name, it’s actually different from what we wear when we dance flamenco, because our flamenco dresses have to be MUCH more conducive for our dance movements!)

Guys don’t have that mind boggling range. 

Yet, they look super smart and guapo (hunky and handsome) in their jackets and ties.

 

Ok, so what to do when you don’t have a Feria dress to go to the Feria de Abril?

Fortunately I did pack a dress that can pass off as somewhat semi-elegant.

I show it to Manuel and he gives the green light, saying that a dress is ok (but don’t wear something too hippie! )

Manuel himself wears something a bit more casual than usual (because we were also planning to have fun at the fun fair rides!)

It’s also kind of ‘ok’, because we’re going during the day time.

Whereas if we went during the night and were invited to someone’s private caseta (tent), then as guests, we would have to dress more formally. 

So take note! 

If you’re planning to travel to Seville to visit the Feria de Abril, plan what to wear. 

Or you can go shopping there and get your attire from the many shops selling the season’s novelty.

Which I personally didn’t do, since I didn’t wish to splurge on yet another Feria dress!

I did go to the shops though to get flowers.

The week before, when I went to the shops, it was like ‘Feria-frenzy’ – ladies choosing their shawls and their matching hair flowers – plus long queues at the cashier counter!

 

Lest you think this is going overboard, there is always something to observe and take cue from different cultures of the world.

The Spanish people are well groomed, from top to toe, generally-speaking. 

Even the old ladies who hang out on ordinary weekend mornings outside Triana market take effort with their coiffure – not an untidy strand in sight.

That’s a positive trait worthy of a mention for personal development and social etiquette – presenting yourself well.

 

How to Get to Seville’s Feria de Abril grounds 

The Feria de Abril is usually in the recinto (ground / neighborhood) called Los Remedios. 

It is HUGE. Several football fields huge.

If you’re staying in town and you’re not too far, you can walk there. 

For the Flamenco Culture Trip I organised last year for international students, our apartment was actually just down the street. 

We could see the Portada (the entrance facade) being built.

Tips:

Book your apartment early and budget-planning wise, know that accommodation prices will be ‘super season’ high)

This year, we’re driving from the outskirts. 

As you can see in the video, everyone has the same idea – to park in the suburbs, close to a train station, and take the train there! 

So Manuel and I spent some time roving around in the car, before we finally found a spot in this makeshift car park in a field that isn’t usually used for parking!

The train station where the Feria grounds are is called Blas Infante.

Fortunately, it’s just one stop away from the station in our neighbourhood. 

Train rides are pretty cheap in Sevilla, I think I paid under €0.50 for my ride.

We spill out of the train station and head for the grounds.

It’s an exciting feel – the first day of the Feria. 

But oh my, it is very hot, if you are going during the day time! Remember to wear your sunscreen!

 

A dramatic transformation – sights in Seville

Sevilla tiene un color especial – so the song goes.

Indeed for different occasions of the year, Seville has its moods and colours.

During the whole week of the Feria, you’ll see a profusion of colours in the city.

Ordinary streets, buses and trains are transformed, overnight, with people in their finest Feria fashion. 

In my early years in Spain and till today, I find it a fascinating scene.

 

What to see and do at the Feria de Abril in the day time

 

1. Try some Feria snacks and sweets

I’m very attracted by the fun-fair stands selling snacks. You can try them too! 

Typically, you see them selling a variety of nuts, red candied apples, lollipops, chips, candy floss.

And there’ll be a little section that sells slices of coconut. 

I’ve become a bit more health conscious over these past two years, and have been trying to avoid junk food.

So on a social occasion like this, I choose the salted almonds. 

It’s a bit closer to ‘real food’, unprocessed, and Spain has good produce.

 

2. Relive your childhood at the ‘Hell Street’ rides

Manuel and I head for the Calle del Infierno (‘Hell Street’). 

This is the part of the Feria grounds mostly for kids and families, with a lot of roller-coaster type of rides, games, bumper cars and haunted houses.

So we relive our childhood exploring a ride. 

(Manuel doesn’t like scary rides like roller coasters, but I do! So he’s obliging me!)

Turns out, the ride we chose had some scary moments for me. It does go upside down!

No more rides, please, he says!

 

3. Admire the horses, the carriages and the Amazona women

I think that’s the distinctive thing about going to the Feria during the day.

You get to see the colourful horses and the riders.

My local friend, Magdalena (the owner of an apartment I used to live in) told me about it, and she was emphatic that I should not miss the culture of the Feria by day. Bless her!

So there you go! 

I’m sharing Magdalena’s local tip for you – go to the Feria BOTH during the day and during the night (where you’ll experience lot of fairy light ambience and revelry)

Manuel tells me that hiring a horse carriage can cost above €1000 ! Wow! 

However, that can be divided between friends sharing that carriage.

It’s another way of going to the Feria – via horse carriage! 

You rent it, get into the carriage at a certain spot in town, the driver takes you there and waits for you while you spend your day there.

It’s such a pretty sight – seeing the scenery of carriages adorned with lovely ladies and admiring the fashion parade before our eyes.  

I’m also admiring the ladies on horses. They are called Amazonas and they, too, have their traditional riding outfit, from boots to hat and hair-do. Again, there is a dress code and tradition to uphold.

Very different from the colourful ruffles of the Traje de Flamenca!

Manuel once had a horse, and he shares that if you go to the Feria on your horse, you won’t be able to do as much (like go into the tents and dance), because you’d have to take care of your horse outside (there aren’t places to ‘park’ your horse)!

I see some handsome chaps standing outside the casetas with their horses. And it’s true, they can’t go in, so they are chatting to fellow riders, horse tête-à-tête  

 

4. Eat pescaito – try typical Feria food

Typical food at the Feria is pescaito (fried seafood such as chocos, boquerones), tortilla, hams, cheeses, bocadillos (small baguettes with different stuffing), olives, and more!

I guess that’s because it is quick and easy to eat.

A typical Feria drink is a Rebujito (a mixture of manzanilla/sherry and lemon-flavoured soda like Sprite)

Manuel gets us fried chocos, chicken strips and a flamenquin (fried pork & ham roll) and 2 cokes (since I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t drink coke either, only for this occasion!). 

I balk at the price of €35. 

Outside the Feria, in a tapas bar, it would cost much less!

It’s something to expect, as the businesses make the most of the special occasion.

What I didn’t know before – Manuel shares that in his youth, guests could bring food from home into the casetas. He has memories of his mother doing so.

I guess things became more commercialised over the years!

So heads up:

Budget up and be prepared to spend at the Feria (whether it’s for snacks, rides or gastronomy! Or for your new feria dress!)

And be prepared to wait – a long time – for your food if the caseta is packed!

 

5. Dance the Sevillanas (but of course!)

To me, dance is a personal way to experience life creatively.

It’s enabled me to get to know, embrace and feel close to a whole new culture.

Best of all, so many wonderful people (my artists, my maestros,  the communities I meet worldwide) have come into my life.  

In my first years in Spain, all this was so astonishing to me – the non stop revelry, the beautiful attires, the horses, lanterns, lights and colours.

Till today, it still is amazing to me, and an expressive spirit of the people.

My flamenco maestro, Manuel, tells me about his childhood days at the Feria with his parents, and how as a young child dancer, he and Israel Galvan would perform from tent to tent.

Sevillanas is the quintessential dance here at the Feria and Sevilla.

Prior to coming to Sevilla, I danced the Sevillanas in the studio simply as a dance, as I had not experienced the culture.

So hopefully this short video shows those of you who have not been here yet, the Sevillanas in its vibrant cultural context, so you too can connect to Spain with your spirit, imagination and expression of a universal alegria (joy of living).

 

———————————

How to enter a caseta at Seville’s Feria de Abril? Private vs Public Caseta

There are over a thousand casetas (tents). 

BUT, in Seville, most of the tents are private and belong to businesses, associations and clubs.

Which means you cannot enter these private ones.

This is different from the Feria in nearby town, Jerez, where I’m told it’s more open.

So if you are in Seville and don’t have an invitation to a private caseta, don’t worry, you can go to a public one.

Look out for the tents that have the word ‘Distrito’ above it. 

The caseta you see in my video is a public one.

We got back home a bit pooped and baked from the heat of the day. 

On the way home, Manuel stops at a gas station because we wanted to cool down with some ice-cream!

I’m happy after my shower, sitting at the balcony, eating my ice-cream, and then packing my luggage to catch my train and flight back to Singapore next morning.

But my flamenco maestro, Manuel, can’t sit still for long. 

After refreshing himself, he dresses up again (this time rather formally in jacket and tie) and goes back to the Feria (in a taxi) to the caseta that our neighbour invites us to!

And he doesn’t return till the wee hours of the morning! 

You can imagine all that dancing, eating, drinking, socialising amidst the music and the lights.

I think you’ll need stamina.

Game to experience the Feria de Abril? 

 


 

Dates: When does Seville’s April Fair (Feria de Abril) take place?

If you want to experience this special week, then start planning. 

One of the first things you’ll be asking is ‘When does the April Fair take place in Seville? 

One would assume it’s always in April, taking a cue from its name.  

But did you know that it takes place 2 weeks after Holy Week, Semana Santa? 

So you’ll have to check the dates for the year you intend to visit.

 

Deep Dive – more on dance, Spanish culture & lifestyle


You might be interested in:

What’s the Feria de Abril like from the local perspective, what are the different styles of Sevillanas dance, Sevillanas music playlist, read:

Sevillanas, Feria de Abril, Seville’s largest party and the Spanish Joy of Living 

Watch a Sevillanas dance – with Sevillanas, you can dance with anyone in the world. Here, my dance projects take me to the ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam, where I do a duet with my friend.

 

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On Instagram