Lights, colour, excitement, horse shows and flamenco, the Feria de Sevilla, the most elaborate and most colourful event in the calendar in Andalucia. The Feria of Seville 2023, the most important celebration and the highlight of the year in Seville, took place from 23 to 29 April. During the celebrations, the city gets dressed up in its finery, with carriages, bullfights, small parties, music, dance, entertainment and lots of traditional food, and there is a notable excitement in the air.
The Seville April Fair (“Feria de Abril de Sevilla”) is a spring festival that is held annually in the city of Seville, where the public gathers in a large venue called Real de la Feria, a name used for being royal foundation of Isabel II, with streets with ephemeral booths, decorated with lanterns, through which horsemen and horse-drawn carriages circulate. It is celebrated one or two weeks after Easter and coincides with the bulls in the Plaza de la Maestranza.
The 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. This is a week of serious dancing, drinking, eating and socialising, with late nights – or all-nighters – the norm. The sheer extent of the April Fair’s spectacle is extraordinary. From around midday until early evening – especially on Sunday, the first official day – Sevilla society parades around the fairground in carriages or on horseback. There are also daily bullfights, generally considered the best of the season. Then the eating, drinking and fancing continues into the small hours.
The Feria de Abril take place in spring, while Seville has a special atmosphere, garlanded with the sweet scent of orange blossom and jasmine. Seville is a city with very special colour, and all the more so during the fair. The Seville Fair traditionally starts two clear weeks after Semana Santa, in a huge fairground in Los Remedios. From saetas (religious flamenco songs) to sevillanas (Seville flamenco songs)… The Fair has a great economic and social impact on the city and has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
The fair officially begins at midnight on Saturday, and runs seven days, ending on the following Saturday. For the duration of the fair, the fairgrounds and a vast area on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River are totally covered in rows of casetas (individual decorated marquee tents which are temporarily built on the fairground). These casetas usually belong to prominent families of Seville, groups of friends, clubs, trade associations and political parties. Thisweek life in Seville revolves around this fiesta. The music, food, dancing and general joy create a very special atmosphere.
On the first Saturday, Members’ meeting at the casetas and inauguration of the Feria de Sevilla with a dinner. At midnight of Sunday, the mayor turns on the lighting, including the entrance arch known as la Portada and thousands of colorful farolillos (paper lanterns) as well. This ceremony is called el Alumbrado. Wednesday is the main day of the Feria de Sevilla which the horse and carriage parade was take place. The second Saturday is the last day of the Feria, this day is mainly devoted to bullfights. At midnight the Feria de Sevilla holds the closing ceremony with lots of fireworks next to the Guadalquivir river.
A unique opportunity to ride through the streets of the fair on horseback is allowed during the 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. Flamenco music and dance, especially Sevillana, surround you in almost every Caseta as live musicians perform the typical dance of the city. Another vital component is the bullfight: every afternoon people crowd into the Plaza de la Maestranza bullring to see the day’s bullfight. This fair also has an amusement park that comes with it and has many games to play along with roller coasters to ride. 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.
Seville is more beautiful than ever during the fair, and, with music and jubilation, it displays the essence of this magical city: its joyful spirit and the good nature of its people. During the week of La Feria, fairgrounds known as Recinto Ferial is set up specifically for the celebration in the neighborhoods of Los Remedios and Tablada. La Feria within itself is divided into streets, having its own addresses and numbers and making up its own mini neighborhood, making it easy to locate friends and family to celebrate with. From around nine at night until six or seven the following morning, at first in the streets and within each caseta, there are crowds partying and dancing sevillanas, drinking Sherry, manzanilla or rebujito, and eating tapas.
The Seville April Fair, also called Feria de Abril is the most important cultural festival in the city, together with the celebration of Easter. 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. Each day the fiesta begins with the parade of carriages and riders, at midday, carrying Seville’s leading citizens which make their way to the bullring, La Real Maestranza, where the bullfighters and breeders meet. Every year more than a thousand colorful booths are transformed into even brighter bars and public and private dance floors.
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. It is common to meet and celebrate with people during the fair and you will always be invited into a booth to enjoy the hospitalities and celebrations of those around you. This is a very unique and important festival that should you should see in your lifetime. Come prepared to dance, laugh, eat, drink, and enjoy.
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.
Each booth, or Caseta, anywhere from 10 to 50 members both friends and family, has the right to invite who they want, often filling every booth to the brim. Inside, friends and family gather surrounded by typical Andalusian dishes including seafood, potato omelettes, montaditos, croquettas, and the famous puchero broth, a reconstituent soup that is enjoyed after a long day at the Fair.
Acornucopia of color is seen throughout the streets of the the fair, people wear typical Andalusian dress: the men wear the typical outfit of the farmworker, in blue Corto uniform suits and hats as they ride their horses through the streets, and the women wear dressed in a beautiful variety of flamenco dresses or gypsy dresses especially for the festival. The main elements of clothing include flounces, ornamental combs, castanets, there is a joy of a people who positively give off imagination and good humour.
Music plays all the while, colour explodes all around, bright, spotted dresses adorn the surroundings, and riders show off their horses amidst the crowds. In the background, an ensemble of heady aromas creates a tempting atmosphere for the senses: fried fish, olives, paella, ham… with fino sherry and manzanilla sherry to wash down these gastronomic delicacies. All this with the enchantment of nights that do not end until well into the early hours. Next to the fairground is the Calle del Infierno, a lively recreational area with a host of attractions for children and adults, and stands selling cold drinks and snacks.
The origins of the April fair date back to 1846 when councillors José María Ibarra and Narciso Bonaplata had the idea of holding an annual, three-day trading fair, to take place in April, for the purchase and sale of livestock. Once approved by Queen Isabella II, the first Fair was inaugurated 18 April 1847, at Prado de San Sebastián. Close to 25,000 people attended. As time went by the fair became one of the most important fiestas on the city’s calendar, and changed from a trading to a social occasion.
Since its creation, the fair had a marked livestock and agricultural mercantile character. The merchants came to the event with their cattle and left them in different areas depending on the year: the Tablada pasture, the Isabela farm or the Santa Justa meadow.. The fair-market was held in the Prado de San Sebastián. In 1849 paths were laid in the market area. At first the fair had a country atmosphere, but with the growth of the city it began to acquire a more urban aspect by its visitors. In 1850 licenses were issued for dozens of stalls which would serve as taverns and snack kiosks. In 1858 the fair already had 119 booths from San Fernando street to Enramadilla and from the San Fernando gate to the Meat gate there were snack and toy stalls. In 1859 the fair already allocated more space to the party than to the market.
During the second half of the 19th century there were various exhibitions and local trade fairs that reduced the mercantile exclusivity of the April Fair. For this reason, from the beginning of the 20th century the fair began to focus on the celebration. In the middle of the 20th century, an exhibition with a select cattle contest had more influx of farmers. Between 1947 and 1956 the fair became a celebration without a commercial component.
In 1973 it had to be moved to its current location on account of the large number of visitors. The fair site now covers 1,200,000 m2, divided into three different areas: La Calle del Infierno, El Real de la Feria and the car parks. The Fair is divided into fifteen streets named after major figures from the world of bullfighting. On the back of the street signs you can read a short biography of the bullfighter in question. La Calle del Infierno is where all the fairground attractions and rides are.
The Seville Fair 2023, last from April 23 to 29, brings a city full of color, music and joy with the traditional lighting and ends with the fireworks. The April fair is a unique opportunity to get to know Seville, its places, its atmosphere, its people… It is the ideal time to disconnect and enjoy a good atmosphere with a city full of people and color.
The Feria de Sevilla centres around the Real de la Feria, the gigantic fairground just outside the city centre in the Los Remedios neighbourhood. Over 1000 casetas, hospitality tents, are erected by local businesses, notable families, clubs and political parties. Each of the six districts of Seville host a ‘free’ casetas. The ladies dress in traditional flamenco dresses whilst the gentlemen wear the traditional short jacket and broad rimmed hat. Many parade around the city and the Real de la Feria on horseback or in elaborately decorated and polished, horse drawn carriages. The feria gets going about noon each day and the celebrations continue until the early hours of the morning.
The night of the Pescaíto is the name given to the opening dinner of the April Fair, which takes place before the lights are turned on. During this dinner, which is only for the members of each booth, food, dances and laughter are shared and the moment of lighting is awaited to start the Fair. The reason behind the name of the day of the Pescaíto is due to the fact that fried fish is served at dinner, accompanied by sausages, cheeses and fine wine or manzanilla to drink.
The Lighting will take place on Sunday, April 23 at 00:00 at the Real de la Feria de Sevilla. “El Alumbrao” is the event that begins the Seville April Fair. From the Front to the end of the enclosure, the 15 streets are illuminated with 200,000 bulbs that create a magical atmosphere. The neighborhood of Los Remedios. The Avenida de Flota de Indias is the ideal location, since it is located on the same street as the entrance and marks the limit of the fairgrounds with Los Remedios. Asunción street also offers a good view of the ignition.
The Fair ends with fireworks after seven days of fun and celebrations, with dances, music and good company. A good place to enjoy them is the adjoining bridges. The Puente de las Delicias, the Puente de Los Remedios and the Puente de Triana. Also, from the Muelle de la Sal or Betis street, or any other place along the Guadalquivir river, you can enjoy the fireworks show in all its splendor.
The April Fair has a total area of 275,000 square meters, the fairgrounds are located between the areas of Los Remedios and Tablada. Enter the venue through its monumental doorway, there is the Antonio Bienvenida street, the widest in the entire fair, which divides it into two different areas. The fair has historically maintained a homogeneous and customary decoration based on white, red or green lanterns, the colorful exterior of the booths, which cover their entrance with white and red, or white and green striped canvas to protect the interior from dust and heat.
The 1053 booths of the April Fair in Seville are one of the most emblematic and characteristic elements of this festival. These booths are small constructions that are set up in the fairgrounds, and are designed to house visitors during the fair. The booths are usually owned by groups of friends, families or associations that decorate them in a personalized way with flowers, lanterns, shawls and other typical elements of Andalusian culture. Each booth has a name and a theme.
Inside the booths you can find all kinds of activities and celebrations, such as dances, dinners, meetings and typical food tastings. In addition, many of them have live music, so they become authentic places for parties and fun. The booths are a key part of the Seville April Fair, as they represent the essence and tradition of this festival. Every year, thousands of people gather in these small buildings to enjoy the joy and conviviality typical of Andalusian culture.
In addition to the booths, there are also numerous fairground attractions, such as Ferris wheels, carousels, merry-go-rounds, and vertigo rides. These attractions are mainly concentrated in Calle del Infierno, which is the area with the greatest activity and animation during the Fair. The attractions are traditionally known in the city as cacharritos, and they come to the city from different parts of Spain in number of more than one hundred, which makes “Calle del Infierno” the largest provisional amusement park in the country.
New Venue of the Fair 50th Anniversary
The City Council commemorates the 50th anniversary of the transfer of the Fair to Los Remedios with a show for the night of the Lighting that for the first time will be held in a gala format with a journey through time as the common thread and with leading figures from the Sevillanas. The celebration of the transfer of the April Fair half a century ago to its current venue in Los Remedios will include a tribute concert to Cantores de Híspalis in the Polígono San Pablo and another by the Municipal Band on Asunción street, two exhibitions and the decoration with pennants from the street that leads to Real and Avenida de la Constitución.
The gala will feature artists such as Laura Gallego -with the collaboration of the Seville Municipal Symphonic Band-, Siempre Así, Enrique Casellas, María del Mar Berlanga and her dance group and the Híspalis Singers, who will continue their performance once the has caused the lighting button to come on. It should be remembered that, on the occasion of the commemoration of this event, the protagonists of the moment the April Fair is lit will be residents and merchants of the Los Remedios neighborhood this year.
On Friday, April 14, the concert ‘Eternos Cantores’ will be held, in homage to Cantores de Híspalis, in the Plaza Cantores de Híspalis in the Polígono San Pablo, located between Picadores, Pedro Romero and Puntilleros streets. The Municipal Symphonic Band of Seville will offer a recital with classical pieces by Manuel de Falla and D Hurtado that will be choreographed by the Alberto El Romero Dance School. The group will also accompany the classic sevillanas performed by Amigos de Gines, María de la Colina, Manguara, Cintia Merino, Las Carlotas, Somos del Sur, Lubricán and Las Soles.
From April 14 to 22, historical photographs of the April Fair will be exhibited in the section of Asunción street that goes from the Pasaje Virgen de Consolación to Virgen de la Victoria street. Gallardetes on Asunción street and on Avenida de la Constitución. Asunción street will display pennants on its sides to decorate the path to the fairgrounds, starting on April 17. The Association of Merchants of Los Remedios has produced banners with letters from Sevillanas that have always been hung on the balconies of the streets. There will also be banners announcing the Fair on Avenida de la Constitución. About twenty businesses in Los Remedios will exhibit the most representative models of the covers of the April Fair in the last 50 years, such as those that represented the facade of the Church of El Salvador (2012), that of the fans (2005) or the one that paid homage to Expo 92 (2017).
In the early days of the fair, as it was related to the sale of cattle, what was described as a booth was the equivalent of a stable. In the one corresponding to the year 1849, the City Council set up the first booth as the term is understood now. Its style was that of a tent, with the intention of monitoring and maintaining public order, which changed shortly after due to the festive atmosphere46 that existed there. In 1850 other booths were placed with various elements of leisure, food and other utilities. Over the years, families and some institutions wanted to enjoy more time in this space that ventured annually, which caused the number of booths to increase, each one adorned it at will, leaving everything very picturesque, acquiring Moorish shapes, circular, military…
It was in 1919 when a certain uniformity in style was achieved, based on a design made by the painter Gustavo Bacarisas. Total uniformity was achieved in 1983 when standards for assembly were established. The structure and assembly of the booths is regulated by Title IV of the Municipal Ordinance of the April Fair. The module has a width of 4 meters and a depth between 6 and 8. The pediment of the booth is called a scarf and must be made of wood. Most of the booths only have one module, although if there were more than one, several scarves could be placed or one that would cover everyone. Booth tarps must be red and white or green and white striped. The Major Festivities Service of the city council holds a Casetas Exorno Contest to reward the best decorated one.
The flamenco dress is a typical Andalusian costume. Currently, it is commonly used at fairs, pilgrimages and May crosses. It comes from the typical Andalusian maja costume, which has been associated with Andalusian costumbrismo since the end of the 18th century. Although the maja costume was a rustic dress, since the beginning of the Seville Fair, between Between 1847 and 1869, some girls from the city disdained the fashion of the old crinolines and came dressed in this clothing: fresh, light dresses, with shawls, combs and flowers. In the second half of the 19th century, the bourgeois class also learned the dance that the gypsies learned in the corrals and neighborhood patios. In a stage of consolidation of this festival, between 1870 and 1909, the maja costume evolved into the current flamenco costume.
The name of the suit comes from flamenco, which is a type of folk music with gypsy influences. The typical costume of the Andalusian majo had abundant decoration. However, in the 1860s and 1870s men abandoned decorated suits for more austere country dress. This country suit or short suit was worn by ranchers. The short suit is also used on some occasions by flamenco artists and is frequent in rocieros sevillanas groups.
The Sevillana is a danceable musical genre originating from Seville. It comes from the contact of the Castilian-La Mancha seguidilla with the soleá, the fandagos and other styles. Since the 18th century they were considered a different style from the seguidillas. In the 19th century it was influenced by boleros. From the middle of the 20th century they have been considered a style of flamenco. The first sevillanas seguidillas were accompanied by tambourines and rattles, although the sevillanas are accompanied by palmas and castanets.
Parallel to this daily exhibition along the Real’s route, others also take place on scheduled days at the Maestranza de Caballería, thanks to a group made up of people like Antonio Sánchez Bedoya, Luis Millán and Luis Rivero Merry, who were great fans of ” art of carriage” and concerned themselves with recovering and safeguarding horse-drawn carriages, they founded the Real Club de Enganches de Andalucía in 1983, through which hundreds of carriages from all over Andalusia passed with great artistic and economic value. In the Maestranza bullring, a Carriage Exhibition organized by the Real Club de Enganches de Andalucía has been held since 1984, where carriages from all times, from the Andalusian aristocracy and bourgeoisie, are exhibited.
Bullfighting shows have been linked to the celebration of the fair from the beginning. Seville is one of the Spanish cities with most bullfighting tradition, and the Real Maestranza de Caballería is the country’s oldest bullring. The bullring is one of the city’s main monuments and has an unusual oval shape. It is located in El Arenal district, a neighbourhood that was home to one of the world’s most important ports in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is well worthwhile exploring its streets and sampling some tapas, and of course the traditional bull’s tail, at local restaurants.
The musical group in charge of the Maestranza is the Maestro Tejera Band. The Musical Group dates from the 19th century, although in 1910 it was founded in a more stable and solid way by the musician Don Manuel Pérez de Tejera. The Band is consolidated in Holy Week and in the Monumental bullring of Seville. In 1942 they became the main band of the Maestranza bullring. The posters (announcement) of the bullfighting season are made by artists of recognized prestige. The posters (or programs) include some of the best matadors of the moment, given the renowned prestige of the Plaza, and the best Spanish cattle ranches also come together.
During the Fair, the people of Seville make their respective marquees their homes, playing host to receive and entertain friends and family. The marquees are simple and beautifully decked out. There is Fino sherry from Jerez and Manzanilla sherry from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, ham, prawns, dancing, Sevillana music, clapping, guitars, and even bagpipes and Rocío drums and good stew broth with a dash of sherry.
The so-called night of the pescaíto is celebrated at dawn from Saturday to Sunday, in which it is customary to serve a selection of fried fish. The rest of the days the booths usually serve an offer of traditional tapas from the city of Seville, such as Being Iberian ham, cheese and cured meats, seafood, potato omelette. For lunch it is customary for each booth to prepare a “stew” of the day such as potatoes with cuttlefish, chickpeas with cod, stew, and other typical Andalusian foods. Fritters or churros, called “warm” in Seville, accompanied by hot chocolate are also typical at the fair.
In the fair, in addition to food, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are also served. Normally the booths have a tap and barrels of beer, although white wines tend to prevail, such as the fino from Jerez de la Frontera or the manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Since the 2000s, the rebujito has become very popular. The rebujito is manzanilla with a lot of ice and Seven Up, or Sprite, which are sodas with a certain lemon-lime flavor, or with sodas from other brands. It is served in 1 liter jugs accompanied by shot glasses.