After our first experience with the Feria de Abril in Seville, Spain, we decided to check out something wholly different by heading an hour south of our home to the spring fair in Jerez de la Frontera.
We were invited by our friend Shawn from Azahar Sevilla Tapas Tours and We Love Tapas for a few-day visit, as she likes to check out the fair in Jerez whenever she can.
Famed for its horses and sherry, the fair here is nearly a complete 180 from the one in Seville. There, most of the casetas are private, and most people cannot enter without a membership or invite.
In Jerez, all of the casetas are open to the public. Some of them have private sections, but everyone and anyone can pop into any of these tents for some drink, food, and dancing.
At first glance, the most obvious difference of the fair in Jerez is that it’s much more casual and less traditional than the one in Seville. I would say that less than 30-40% of the fairgoers are dressed in the traditional garb that one sees in Seville. It feels more like a “fair” in the American sense of the word, and less like a formal event.
That was all obvious as we approached the fairgrounds, only seeing a few people scattered here and there in traditional dresses.
Once we got to the grounds themselves, we were impressed by the array of lights that lit up the space. It’s quite a razzle-dazzle, and made for some great pictures.
After walking around for the while, enjoying a break from the daytime heat, we made our way into caseta after caseta, eating all kinds of delicious treats and drinking our fair share of sherry and beer.
We also met up with Chris, who we’d previously met in Seville by happenstance as he was eating next to us at a restaurant per the recommendation from Shawn. Chris was here from London on vacation, so we got together for plenty of drinks and laughs.
We made our way several times to the Tío Pepe tent, property of the biggest of all the sherry makers here in Jerez. This is one of the most popular of the fair, but we found it to be rather dull as there was no cash bar.
Cool chair-art-thing installation on the ceiling of the tent.
Not wanting to buy tickets just to get drinks, we ventured off to other tents to sit and watch the world go by.
At the end of our first evening here, we also checked out the amusement park. I’m not sure if these are permanent fixtures, or only there for the fair next door, but Seville had one attached to it as well.
Anyone know what American Grabsch is? Seems more Germerican.
Spent from all the “relaxation” we’d taken in, we made our way back to our flat to rest up for the next day.
The following day was hot, hot, hot. So. Hot. Alas, we did our thing anyway and hopped a bus over to the fairgrounds.
This day was ladies’ day, and they were out in full force. Many were wearing traditional dresses, which made for a nice turn to the casual atmosphere around us.
We ran into a large group of women who had their own instruments and were gladly starting impromptu dance sessions in the middle of the walkways.
No dancing for us, but we did enjoy watching generations of women celebrate in style.
When I said it was hot – I mean, real hot – I was not joking. The afternoon was supposed to be a showcase for all the famous horses that are usually on parade at the fair in Jerez.
But, it was so hot, barely any made it out. This was a bit sad, but we all agreed that it’s better to keep the horses inside if the weather is deathly warm.
There were still a few here and there, but it wasn’t the show one would normally see here.
A few hours of that, and trying to cool ourselves down with drink, and we’d had enough of the blistering sun and two days at the fairgrounds.
Overall, we had a great time here, hooting and hollering with Shawn and Chris as we experienced a different style of spring fair than the one in Seville. Both have their upsides and downsides; but in reality, they’re just different beasts that should be celebrated in slightly different ways.
If you ever get a chance to head to Jerez de la Frontera, it’s worth going in May when you can celebrate with the locals and take in the Feria de Jerez. Just check the weather…if it says you’ll fry like an egg, stick to an evening visit! 🙂
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Have you ever been to the Feria de Jerez? If so, what’d you think and what was your experience? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!