One of the largest festivals in Seville – along with Semana Santa – is the Feria de Abril. As the name says, it takes place once a year in April. Millions of people from as far away as you can get descend on the city for dancing, drinking, gathering with friends and family, and more drinking.
It’s an icon of Seville, as everyone gets fancy to the nines in their traditional dresses and suits. It’s an image that’s known around the world, and will appear to be one of those true stereotypes that everyone dresses traditionally if this is the only week you ever visit the city.
The setup is basically as such: At the fairgrounds in the neighborhood of Los Remedios, hundreds of casetas – basically large tents – are put up to house the private parties of whoever owns said club and tent.
Inside, you’ll find seating, sometimes a stage, and a full bar and food service, usually contracted from a local restaurant (many of which shut down in their actual locations for the entire week).
Unless you’re a member of a specific private club, or you’ve been invited by a member, you cannot enter. What this essentially means is that the entire feria is one large group of private parties. And you can’t get in.
As sad as that sounds, let’s not be cynical about it. There are, indeed, public casetas, although finding out which is which can be tricky at times. More on that in a sec.
We met up with Alex and Adam (from Travels of Adam), as well as Federico and Kemmy (from Next Bite of Life), to stroll around and check out the festivities. It’s like a photographer’s dream, and Federico – the professional photog that he is – went nuts with the photos.
Adam was sent a map of the grounds, on which the public casetas for the jokers like us were marked. Our first attempt didn’t go so well as the bouncer – yes, the casetas have security – told us that his particular caseta was not, in fact, open to the public. Okay then.
Being the nice guy that he was, he did point us to a public one that wasn’t on the list. We went in and had a drink, realizing that we basically felt like we were in a tapas bar, but in the middle of a fairground.
Not to be stifled by the lack of festive air in there, we headed back outside and made our way around the amusement park, which is strategically located next to the fair and ready to take zillions of euros from unsuspecting parents and thrill-seeking outsiders like us.
Not a problem! While some of us went on rides, others of us stood in the shade and hit the Cruzcampo.
After enjoying the air for a while – and when I say that, I mostly mean ogling the ridiculously well-put-together men, women, and kids in their best dress – we thought we’d be heading off to a birthday party.
Hunger got in the way of that, and we decided to stop for a bite to eat.
That meant what it usually means: hours of sitting around, hanging out, and friends popping by.
Our pal Cat from Sunshine & Siestas was on her way to the feria and happened to walk by, so she stopped to have some beers and show off her pretty getup. (That’s her, on the right.)
So much for the birthday, it was long gone by the time we got out of there. So be it!
All in all, another great day here in Seville. While I don’t want to get too ornery about it (and fortunately, most locals seem to agree with me), the feria isn’t a whole week’s worth of excitement for someone if they’re not privy to the private casetas. That’s where the real party is at, and it’s just not for everyone.
I definitely understand why it’s a big deal, but it does feel a bit bizarre to head out to a huge fairground and find what are, essentially, a thousand private parties. No big deal, though, as we take life in stride!
If you want to learn more about the Feria de Abril, check out these great primer posts from Cat on her blog:
We had a good time with the experience, and we always have a good time when we’re in good company. So, thanks to Alex, Adam, Kemmy, Federico, and Cat for that. ¡Olé!
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Have you ever experienced Feria in Seville, or anywhere else? If so, what’d you think and what was your experience? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!