Feria de Abril – My First Feria in Seville, Spain
Are you planning on attending the Feria in Seville? Great! My first Feria in Seville was such a memorable experience. I really had no clue what I was getting myself into before I went. I had seen pictures online and heard things from friends, but I really was totally clueless. So you can be more prepared than I was, here is a list of things to expect when you attend your first Feria.
What Should You Expect From the Feria?
In my opinion, the clothes make the Feria. There is something fascinating about walking around and seeing everyone dressed up in Spanish attire. The women are completely decked out in their Flamenco styled dresses, with every detail thought out – from their high heels all the way up to the giant flower on their heads. The men are dressed up in dark colored Spanish suits, a tie of some sort and a top hat. And don’t forget about the children! The children’s outfits are my favorite, wearing the same things as their parents, but miniature version. Get your camera ready; it’s too cute to miss. It’s not uncommon to see a Spanish family color coordinating in all of their Feria attire. Moms and daughters often have dresses made with similar fabrics to match each other.
A Caseta is another word for a tent. There are over 1,000+ casetas set up for the Feria. I never realized how big the Feria was and how many casetas there would be! They are lined up in rows as far as the eye can see.
The thing that I don’t love about the Feria, is it isn’t inclusive towards everyone. Tourists and other Spanish people who live outside of Seville that aren’t connected to the city, aren’t able to fully participate. You see, most of the Feria casetas are private. Only a handful are public. The Feria is typically a party for the residents of Seville only. People pay large amounts of money to own their own caseta. Some people split up the cost of one caseta with a group of friends and each pay their share towards owning it as a group. Many casetas are owned by a business or is for a specific group of people with the same profession. There is even a wait-list to get a caseta. If you are invited to a private caseta or own one, then you are all set – you have connections with the wealthy and popular locals in Seville and will have a blast partying with them in their “second home,” bouncing from one caseta to the next. We were lucky enough to have local friends in the area that allowed us to tag along with them to two private casetas. Without that, we would have been outsiders and observers only, and stuck going to a public caseta. The public casetas are fine but can get super crowded. They aren’t as nice inside compared to the private casetas and the food is just subpar.
Inside of the casetas is where all the fun happens –the dancing, the food, the drinking and the socializing. People take a lot of time decorating their caseta to make it just right and perfect for their guests. It is decorated to look like the inside of a house, with frames hanging on the walls, tables with tablecloths set up, and even chandeliers hanging in the middle of the ceiling. The outside is also decked out with strings of white lights and small lit paper lanterns. Some casetas have the name of the group it belongs to proudly displayed on the front to advertise who they are, and most are numbered to make them easier to navigate. There are different sizes of casetas as well; the smaller ones are more intimate and the ones that are a bit bigger tend to be livelier with lots of dancing.
To ensure someone doesn’t enter into a caseta that wasn’t officially invited by the caseta owner, there is person assigned to monitor the front entrance. When you arrive at a caseta, you have to tell them the name of the person who invited you there as well as your name. They then check over the list of invited guests and see if you are on it. If so, you are allowed to enter.
Sevillianos grow up learning four different types of dances that are specifically from their region of Spain. Everyone knows them and dances them. It’s in their blood. Everyone, except me – the lone American girl who is at the Feria for the first time.
I was hanging out in one of the casetas with friends and my husband and son, when suddenly I was whisked away to the dancing area of the caseta. A Spanish woman began to dance and encouraged me to join her. We didn’t speak the same language and were complete strangers, but we suddenly began to dance together and have a blast. Luckily I have a background in dance, which allowed me to kind of “fake it” and pretend my way through the moves, mostly copying her and other Spanish dances I have seen in the past. My dress helped me get in the mood as well as the music. Sadly, I don't even know the lady's name.
Most tents are full of people dancing to live music and having a great time. The dancing really makes the feria come to life and puts everyone at ease. It really makes the Spanish culture shine – so full of passion and emotion. So don’t be shy and join in!
The Feria is completely decked out. The most noteworthy decoration of the whole Feria is the giant arched doorway that you walk under as you enter into the Feria called the, Puerta de Feria. It’s massive presence leads to no confusion of the location of the Feria as it grandly greets all of its guests when you arrive. At nighttime, it is completely lit up with strings of lights, which makes it even more magnificent looking.
Even the horses at the Feria aren’t overlooked when it comes to decorations. The horses are adorned with colorful flowers, pom poms, and bells, hanging down the front of their faces. Many people arrive by horseback to the Feria. Some families arrive in a horse carriage and others ride their own single horses in with the men typically leading and the women sitting sideways in the back.
The evening time is my favorite time to visit the Feria as it is completely glowing with lights. All of the walkways are lined with streams of white lights, gathered in areas into circles and other beautiful designs. It is truly magical and quite the site to see. My son Jimmy kept yelling, “Wow!,” and pointing to different decorations along our path as we strolled in awe at the beauty of the Feria.
The Amusement Park Rides
If you want to feel like a kid again and have a blast, then head over to the amusement park rides at the Feria. There are so many rides and so much to do, so we ended up going two different nights. One thing that I found amusing was that people stay in their fancy clothes while they ride all the rides. I saw men in suits and ties and women in long fancy dresses cruising on bumper cars and going upside down on rollercoasters. It was odd to see the fancy dress mixed with the casual riding of rides. In America, you’d never see people in their “sunday best” riding rides, so I found it humorous.
There are rides that accommodate all ages of people. There are rides for adults, teenagers and even young toddlers. Jimmy has an obsession for cars, so he loved any ride where he could drive a car by himself, like the bumper cars.
After riding a lot of rides, hopefully you have worked up an appetite for some of the fair food. We tried the Orbie mini donut holes with the white Kinder bar sauce drizzled on top. They make them fresh right in front of you using a cute little donut machine that fries them in grease and flips them over to cook both sides. It was fun to watch and even more fun to eat.
The traditional drink of the Feria is the Rebujito, a mix of Manzanilla and 7 UP. Some people don’t particularly care for it so they ask for it heavy on the 7 UP side. If it isn’t your thing, then don’t be afraid to ask for the heavier 7 UP ratio, or get a different drink altogether.
The Feria is full of traditional Spanish tapas, all equally delicious. The meal begins with an appetizer of salted almonds as you wait for the rest of the food to come out. The Solomillo de Whiskey is a favorite dish, especially among kids. It is a delicious cut of pork served over potato slices and drenched in sauce. Calamari is another popular item on the menu as well as other cuts of fried fish. Try the Cola de Toro, or stewed bull’s tail, which is not to be missed as well as the Tostado de Papatas, a classic Sevillian dish. And, save room for some ice cream and cotton candy!
So there you have it! A short introduction of what to expect at the Feria. Have a great time and feel free to leave any questions or comments below!