Feria de Abril in Seville

Feria de Abril in Seville

Seville April Fair

The fiesta season in Seville moves up a notch as spring arrives in the beautiful capital city of Andalucia. First of all Semana Santa (Holy Week) takes place then two weeks later it’s the Feria de Abril or Seville April Fair as we foreigners tend to call it. Officially the Fair begins at midnight on the Monday which falls two weeks after Semana Santa ending the following Sunday at midnight with a spectacular firework display over the Guadadalquivir River.

However, the variable dates for Easter could push the whole of the Seville April Fair into the month of May so on occasions it is agreed that dates can be changed to ensure that at the very least the ‘Alumbrao’ (turning on of the lights) takes place at the end of April.

La Feria del Caballo
La Feria del Caballo in Jerez de la Frontera – Photo Credit: Dominic Alves

The PROVISIONAL dates of the Feria for the next few years are as follows, however, do be warned that these dates are subject to change so you should confirm them with an official Seville Tourism authority before booking a trip:

  • 2023 – 23rd to 29th April
  • 2024 – 14th to 20th April

The official Seville Tourist Office can be contacted through their website at http://www.visitasevilla.es/.

History of the April Fair

The origins of the Fair can be traced back to a cattle fair which took place on the grounds of the Prado de Sebastian in 1847. The people of Seville have never been afraid of a good party so the following year three marquees appeared at this same event where local dignitaries were able to socialise. These tent structures are known as ‘casetas’ growing in numbers year after year until the 1920s when the Feria de Abril had grown into the city’s biggest annual fiesta. In 1973 the event moved venue to its current location opposite the Parque de María Luisa in Barrio de los Remedios.

Spanish Women in Flamenco Dress at La Feria de Abril
Spanish Women in Flamenco Dress at La Feria de Abril – Photo Credit: CC Quim Gil

This fairground is known as ‘Real de la Feria’, it is an enormous site located between Los Remedios and Tablada which for this one week becomes a city in its own right. At last year’s event it was reported that around 1,050 temporary ‘casetas’ were set up to allow ‘Los Sevillanos’ to celebrate their beloved April Fair. Located right next to the ‘Real de la Feria’ in Calle del Infierno a huge fairground is set up with lots of the typical rides and attractions together with a circus show.

What Happens at the Feria de Abril?

In Spanish the Monday night is known as ‘La Noche del Pescaíto’ which sounds interesting until you translate it to ‘Fish Night’. It simply refers to this being an evening when traditionally fish is eaten for dinner. After dinner people head for the ‘Portada’ which is the beautiful structure at the entrance to the Feria where thousands of lights are switched on by the Mayor of Seville at midnight. Then it’s time to head for the ‘caseta’, crack open the sherry and let the Fino Sherry and let the partying begin.

Mother Fanning Her Daughter at La Feria de Abril
Mother Fanning Her Daughter at La Feria de Abril – Photo Credit: CC HazteOir.org

Tueday is the first official day of the festival when there are horseback parades through the fairground with the women wearing beautiful flamenco dresses and the men in their traditional suits known as ‘el traje corto’. Seeing these finely dressed ‘Sevillanas’ at the Fair it is easy to understand why the poet Byron referred to Seville as being “famous for its oranges and women”! The birthplace of flamenco lies just across the river in the barrio of Triana so it shouldn’t come as an great surprise to learn that the colourful dresses are known as ‘trajes de gitano’ or ‘gypsy suits’.

The rest of the week continues with more of the same beginning with a midday procession called the ‘Paseo de Caballos’ in which beautiful horses carry people in their traditional attire to the Real Maestranza bullring. Every evening some of the year’s top bullfights take place at this historic Plaza de Toros with tickets often selling out many months in advance. Details of these bullfights appears on their website.

Casetas at the April Fair

There are more than 1000 of these ‘casetas’ in the showground which are fully equipped with a bar, kitchen and substantial music system. From early afternoon the drinking starts, the tapas appear, the music gets louder and by the evening there will be plenty impromptu flamenco dancing going on. But these are privately owned tents so unless you meet a member of one of them who invites you along you won’t be able to go into them. The private nature of these parties has led to many readers contacting us to ask whether Seville Fair is strictly for locals:

Spanish Girls in the Caseta
Spanish Girls in the Caseta – Photo Credit: CC Jean-Michel Brunet

Have recently returned from a Round The World trip during which we spent six weeks in Spain. The trip was absolutely fantastic, but there is one aspect from our visit in Spain which I would like to bring to your attention. One hears a lot about the Seville festival and how it is something not to be missed. We arrived in the afternoon expecting to be able to visit one of the casetas. Surprise, surprise the casetas are only open for invited guests. Needless to say we were extremely annoyed as all the hype about visiting a caseta and sampling the typical Spanish cuisine and seeing flamenco dancing was a complete mis-representation of the truth. We ended up getting something to eat and drink at a cafe opposite the fair. Discussing our disappointment with the locals in the cafe they informed us that the Seville Festival is for the people of Seville.

We returned to Cordoba on an earlier train that evening quite disgusted with the attitude we had encountered at the Fair. I can assure we tried to find somewhere to eat and have a drink but were turned away. On our return to Cordoba, we mentioned what had happened and the locals were not too surprised and informed us that Cordoba also has a Festival in May and everyone is welcome. Just had to let you know about our experience, as it left a bit of a sour taste.

Of course it can be disappointing for visitors to find that they can’t get into these privately owned ‘casetas’ but it’s also understandable that they are for the use of the owner’s friends and family who will be substantial in numbers. You’ll still experience the atmosphere of the fiestas when you visit the Real de la Feria and can go to a number of public ‘casetas’ which are also home to some serious partying.

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30 thoughts on “Feria de Abril in Seville”

  1. In response to your friend’s email about his disappointing experience, I could not disagree more. I am an American student currently studying in Sevilla, and the Feria was just about a week ago. Classes were cancelled as the entire city rushed to the Real. Granted, some friends and I were invited to our friends’ casetas for one day, and we had a ball. We experienced the true Feria. But for the rest of the week, we were without an invitation. There are over 150 public casetas where visitors can enter for free. I went to several and found people drinking, eating, and dancing the Sevillanas. Please invite your friend to come back to Sevilla for the Feria where, even without an invitation, he could experience what it truly is. My Sevillan friends explained to me that once inside the fairgrounds, there are no worries. You leave everything outside and simply enjoy the weeks with your friends. It was an indescribable experience.

    In short, foreign visitors, too, have the opportunity to experience La Feria, and your friend must return again for a better experience! Feria is a time of enjoyment, and to hear that someone had a sour time is simply not good!

    Reply
    • Hi Kyle

      Thanks for letting us know about the great time you had at the Feria de Abril. It should certainly encourage more people to go and enjoy the fiesta in the public casetas.

      All the Best

      Gerry

      Reply
  2. Just to add that Jerez has a wonderful horse fair during mid May. Most of the ‘casetas’ are open to the public and, having been there twice we were never disappointed. Some of the private ‘casetas’ have door men who will invite you into private ones if you are dressed in a tidy fashion.

    It really is a wonderful experience and,there is also a horse sale and, a horse show plus displays during the week.
    It costs a fortune to stay in Jerez during that week so it pays to stay in Seville and get the train.

    Reply
      • Just to say that I went on my own to the Seville Feria a couple of years ago and had no trouble finding public casetas where I took some great videos of girls, children and grandmothers dancing Sevillanas and the most marvellous horses and carriages. In the evenings I found bars where flamenco musicians and dancers played and I had such a great time that I’m going again this year.

        Reply
  3. Hi — I was on a small cruise ship that docked in Sevilla just across the bridge from La Feria. Some of us just wandered over and around — it was fascinating! Seeing the decorated horses, the gorgeous women’s dresses, the mens’ attire, the carriages — loved it. I became convinced that EVERY female person in Sevilla – of any age – has a special dress for La Feria. We didn’t try to enter one of the tents, but could and enjoy much just walking along and soaking up the atmosphere.

    Reply
  4. Hi, my husband and I visited Seville a few years ago, during La Feria, and we stayed in a hotel in the old quarter, near La Giralda. We were the only English in the hotel, which was ok as I speak Spanish! However, there were not many Sevillanos in the hotel, but many from Barcelona, and other parts of Spain. I just want to say how welcome we felt, and never got the feeling that the Feria is just for Sevillanos. The hotel put on a horse and carriage every day to take the guests into the heart of partying and we had a wonderful time! We plan to visit again sometime soon.

    Reply
  5. I visited the Feria 11 years ago and still remember it as if it was yesterday. We flew to Madrid, then took a bus and train, traveling through a few cities in Spain, stopped in Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, rented a house in Nerja, went to Almeria and Malaga, but our destination was Sevilla, especially the Feria.

    I had made acquaintance with one Sevillano at my friend’s place, few months back, so we contacted him, he helped us (I traveled with one friend) to find a hotel room. It was really hard, because Feria had already started and we didn’t have any reservations made. We managed to find probably the worlds smallest room, there was one tiny bed and toilet next to it, in between there was enough room for one slim person to stand 🙂 It was some kind of a spare room, but we were happy with it anyway. It was even tinier than compartments on trains. We were lucky to get even that.

    Then this Sevillano introduced us to two of his nieces who were visiting Sevilla just for Feria. They took us under their wing and we ended up having the most unexpected party night – we got into a few ‘invitation only’ casetas, went to a few that were free for everyone. I remember there was lots of stuff to watch even outside the casetas. Inside there was drinks and dancing, everyone was happy, neither me nor my friend spoke Spanish, I didn’t know how to dance properly, but that did not matter.

    We knew beforehand that there are some restrictions, but we did not see the attitude that Feria is only for Spanish people. Of course, we did not try to enter anywhere where we were not invited, so maybe this is why we had only good experiences. There are different casetas, some are simpler, some fancier, but the area is so large that surely everyone could find some place where to enjoy the party.

    Next day my friend went to see the bull fight and enjoyed it a lot. I went to see the Alcázar of Seville. We dined at the boat restaurant on river, took some walks, stopped in bars, cheered at costumed children and their parents … It was a really enjoyable stay. I am not sure if a tourist would be interested in visiting the Feria every evening as it can be exhausting. We were there for one evening til dawn, had two nights in Sevilla and moved on back to Madrid. It was really a trip to remember. I would recommend people to make their travel plans through Spain and have a stop in Sevilla during the Feria. At least for one day and night.

    Reply
  6. I live in Madrid and have been to a number of the local festivals in the cities around Madrid as well as the ones in other major cities. Up here, the casetas are called Peñas and people buy into them ahead of time so the money each person gives goes to pay for the food, beverage and music for the festival nights. In the smaller towns around Madrid it is practically impossible to get into a private Peña. But there are always bars and convenience stores around so it´s not like you can´t do anything. Get your drinks elsewhere and party to the music just outside the little structure, because the areas outside the tents are chock full of people partying. My experience in Seville was pretty similar, you can see the people all dressed up, watch the things going on, pick up your things from street vendors or the little convenience stores, just don´t try to nose into a private caseta. I´d take it pretty badly if me and my friends saved up and here comes some tourist to sneak our food and drinks.

    Reply
  7. Hi I lived in Seville for over 18 years! It’s a must and I never tired of going.. There are public casetas that you can go in and there are even guided tours in several languages for tourists.
    Seville is a stunning city ‘y su gente’ the people of Seville are so friendly and hospitable.
    If Seville isn’t on your bucket list it should be!

    Reply
  8. Went to the Seville Fair on the Friday night this year. What an experience. Absolutely flabbergasted at how many people, horse-drawn carriages and people on horses there was parading around the site. We did have drinks in a public caseta. Stayed in an apartment in the old town very close to the Cathedral. A stunning place to visit – the Cathedral alone makes Seville a must see city. Also, you have the Palace and the Plaza de España exceptional visits themselves.

    Reply
  9. I’ve been to La Feria a couple of times with friends from a town ten minutes away. Just to watch the people and the horses is worth going and we did manage to get into a few casetas but only after calling friends of friends who then gave to good word. At the end my friends said, “Este es para ellos,” meaning the Feria is for the people of Sevilla.

    Reply
  10. I never participated in Sevilla feria de abril 1985 when I got the assignment in SEVILLA C.A.S.A Aircraft Factory.
    Events Feria de Abril Very enjoyable and I longed, wanted to go to Spain again, especially the city of Sevilla.
    There is a friend of mine in C.A.S.A SEVILLA named ANTONIO have two daughters, did not imagine his now grown up, but I now do not know his address.
    I Love Feria de Abril SEVILLA …

    Reply
  11. My late husband and I lived in Alcala de Guadaira from 1967 to 1970 while he was stationed at Moron AFB. Our son was born in the base hospital. We went to the Feria every year and I have such fond memories. The traditional clothing worn by adults and children along with the beautiful horses and riders are beyond compare. I wonder if hot sweet mint tea is still available from vendors along with little skewers of spicy meat. I would go back in a minute.

    Reply
    • hello Linda. i was 15-20 when i lived in Alcala. we also lived in Sevilla along the palmera. The feria was an experience i’ll not forget. anyone visiting Sevilla will thoroughly enjoy all there is to see. i left in 1964. i’m sorry to hear of your loss, however i know your time there together was memorable! Saludos

      Reply
      • Hey, Mike Hammel. I remember you. My dad was stationed at Moron AFB, and we lived in Alcala, from Nov 1957 to Apr 1959, then moved to Zaragoza from Apr 1959 to Aug 1961. Transferred to Larson AFB in Soap Lake WA until Apr 1962. My dad was sent Back to Spain (Alcoy) in the mountains west of Valencia. No high school there so my mother and us kids went to Alcala to live and go to school. In Sep 1963, I left Spain and returned to Texas for my Senior School Year to graduate in May 1964. For our Jr-Sr Prom, my date and I spent all night at the Feria and came home on the local bus from Seville to Alcala.

        Reply
  12. Went to the feria in Jerez a few years ago, and as a spectacle of colour and vibrancy, it must take some beating. This combination, staged on the yellow sandstone of the huge site, set against the backdrop of the cloudless blue Spanish sky, is something I will never forget. The horses and riders (with their strict dress code) were immaculately turned out and it was there, we accidentally stumbled onto a competition of Doma Vaquera, which I think, is particularly, Andalusian dressage and also a demonstration using La Garocha, the long pole, traditionally used by the mounted herdsmen. The horsemanship was awesome, to make it look so casually easy, when in fact what we were seeing, took many years of long patient practice. It was horsey heaven!

    Reply
  13. I attended the Feria in 2017 and found several public casetas located thru out the grounds. They had food, live music, dancing, drinks, and lots of locals which made it authentic. They are easy to find, just look for signs that say free or something like that. Also, the buggys line up in front of the bull ring around mid day and it is fantastic to see them close up before they parade around inside the bull ring, which is not to be missed ! You can get tickets at the last minute from the tourist office. I did not have a Flaminco dress, but wore a very pretty dress and it was acceptable. Please do not wear casual clothes such as jeans or t shirts, as it is disrespectful.

    Reply

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