THE SEVILLE FAIR
Every spring the city of Seville holds a week-long party known as "La Feria de Sevilla", which more than a million people attend. Dating back to 1847, the Fair was originally organised as a livestock fair and over the years evolved to become a fascinating spectacle for the whole of Spain to enjoy. The wonderful rich culture and dynamic music of Flamenco can be found at the heart of Andalusia's capital, Seville.
The most special and unique to Seville and the Andalucian region is a type of dance and folk music: the "Sevillanas". That is why it is no surprise that this style of dancing owes its name to Seville and that it has developed into one of Spain's most famous dances at the hands of many talented composers who were born in the region of Andalusia.
The Seville April Fair has been celebrated since 1973 in a huge area in the "Los Remedios" neighborhood which was eventually given the name “Real de la Feria”. Traditionally the Fair takes place on the Monday two weeks after Semana Santa and the celebrations span over the entire week with plenty of dancing, drinking, eating and socialising.
On the very first night, celebrations begin with the feast of “pescaito frito” (fried fish), accompanied by a glass or two of rebujito (a typical Andalusian cocktail of sherry mixed with a soft drink) or wine as a kind of ritual before the “Alumbrao”. The “Alumbrao” is the official inauguration of the celebration, which is marked by switching the lights on, and it is organised by the mayor of the city. The festivities come to a close the following Sunday as people gather at the portada to watch the firework display and switching off of the lights.
The heart and soul of the Fair can be found in the casetas (decorated marquee tents which are temporarily installed at the fairground) dotted along the riverbank. Inside the casetas you will get a taste of the most important attraction that the Fair offers to its visitors- warmth from those who serve you, tourists filled with curiosity and folkloric music anticipating crowds of dancers. Visitors can also go to the casetas to indulge in the typical regional dishes and to sample the best Andalusian wines in order to experience an authentic feeling Seville has to offer.
Besides spending the night in enjoying the dance performances (classic Sevillanas dances), some people even dare to try their luck and test their singing skills. Most of the casetas are private and only open to the members, but there are also public casetas where anyone can enter and enjoy the Sevillanas dancing and the fair’s lively atmosphere. Everybody, young or old, can be found in there drinking a glass or two of Jerez wine and hitting the dance floor.
Majority of women wear spectacular dresses inspired by the gypsies of Andalusia, and those that do not own flamenco dress improvise by wearing the traditional gypsy outfits and matching them with the accessories associated with flamenco (tasseled shawls, huge earrings and a carnation in their hair). Men usually wear their best clothes with their suit and tie or sometimes even a bow tie.
Another typical place you will discover at the Fair is the “calle del infierno” (the street of hell), an area most popular with the younger ones. This street is filled with attractions and fairground rides designed for children and teenagers to have fun, as well as with clowns, street performances and all sorts of food stalls. It is simply a place bursting with life and excitement. You cannot go to the Fair without walking through this animated street or without going for a ride on the Noria Grande, a big wheel from which you have a wonderful view of the entire city. These are lasting traditions of the Seville Fair.
The horse-drawn carriages traverse the streets adding a special charm to the festival. This is a tradition that dates back to the 19th century when horse-drawn carriages were the only method of transport available in the fairground. It has become a sort of contest to decorate the carriages, and each year the competition grows more fierce.
The April Fair is a very special event, not only for the citizens of Seville, but also for the people from all over the world that are drawn to the celebrations. It is truly a magical experience that you must be a part of.
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