Hey everyone! Spring is quite possibly the best time of year to be in Sevilla. There are two big celebrations that happen during this time of year: the first being Semana Santa (Holy Week), and the next being Feria! We are a little behind on our blog posts but we wanted to share with you our second year celebrating Feria and why this is such a unique celebration in Spain.
I know that we have written about Feria before, but this year we really did it big! We attended two Feria’s together: Sevilla & Alcalá de Guadaíra (the town where we worked and lived). Mark also attended Feria in Dos Hermanas, the city he played basketball for. The first (and biggest) Feria we went to was in Sevilla. Lucky for us, Mark’s teammate & girlfriend let us stay in their apartment in the city for the weekend, so we wouldn’t have to worry about taking a bus back and forth to Alcalá.
Before I go any furhter, you might be wondering what exactly is this “Feria” I’m speaking of. Well let me give you a brief rundown. Feria is a large fair that begins two weeks after Easter (the exact dates change every year, but usually it’s in April). A large area of the city is transformed into fairgrounds, filled with streets of casetas (individual decorated tents) and lights. Many families, clubs or political parties own the casetas and you can only enter if you know someone (there are usually guards outside to monitor who comes in and out). They do have some public casetas as well, but a lot of the time they are filled with teenagers and tourists. It’s best to go to Feria in Sevilla if you have friends or know someone there! Each caseta feels like a tiny home, with bathrooms, a kitchen in the back, a bar, and seating for everyone. Some even have dance floors! For more information on the history of Feria, you can check out our previous post here!
This year we went to Feria in Sevilla for two nights! Everyone was very lucky because the first night of Feria fell on a Saturday (so no hangovers at work, yay)! The first night is called Pescaito, and everyone eats fried fish together before the Portada (the large entrance to Feria) is lit up and all the lights come on! It’s a really fun night, and although we planned to be at Feria to see the lights come on, we had a little too much fun eating fried fish and drinking in our friends apartment! (I don’t even like fish but my favorite thing to eat at Feria is Cazon en Adobo–fried dogfish marinated in vinegar & wine!) We didn’t get to Feria until 2:00am!! But for those of you who know a little bit about Spanish nightlife, late nights are not uncommon, especially during this week. We ended up staying out until almost 7:00am!!
After a little bit of recovery, we rallied for our second day at Feria. It was a holiday on Monday so we had a long weekend to truly have some fun. I was particularly excited about this day because it was my first time wearing a Traje de Gitana— a traditional dress worn for Feria! Since I studied abroad, I had serious dress envy from passing all the stores in Sevilla but this year, I was lucky enough to borrow a dress from a friend (and it happened to fit me perfectly)! Usually, the dresses are very tight and a lot of women have them tailored to fit their body like a glove! (These dresses can run between 100 to 500 euros). My favorite thing about the dress was the tiny pocket hidden underneath the ruffles, where I could keep my phone, money, ID and lipstick! I loved not having to worry about carrying a purse around, my purse was on me at all times—just built into my dress!
So with Mark in his suit and me in my dress, we were off to celebrate another day of the Sevilla fair! This year we were much braver and even danced the Sevillano (a traditional Spanish dance with four parts). There’s no possible way we could do it on our own, but thankfully we had many Spanish friends willing to dance with us and talk us through the steps! I wish that I was better at the Sevillano but this is a dance that many people learn when they are young. To hear a taste of traditional Sevillano music, check out this famous song to listen to the sort of thing we danced to: Sevilla Tiene un Color Especial!
It’s difficult to describe in words or capture in a picture how beautiful and incredible the Feria of Sevilla is. The mini streets within the fairgrounds are lined with red paper decorations…each Caseta with a personal name and style…horses and grand carriages casually strolling up and down the streets, showing off their bells and flowers. It truly feels like you’ve traveled back in time. Men, dressed like vaqueros, or cowboys and sit high on their horses, drinking rebujito and visiting their friends casetas. (Rebujito is a famous drink at Feria: it’s a mix of Manzanilla Sherry Wine with Sprite…really good but very dangerous when you drink too much)!
For our last night at Feria in Sevilla, we danced the night away until the sun came up! Again, we were so very lucky to be staying with friends who lived close enough to walk, since the taxi line was a mile long and the bus was packed! Thanks again–Dani & Amy!
Only a few weeks later at the beginning of June, it was time for Feria in Alcalá (the city where we lived) and we had two friends visiting us: Kyle & Kevin. We were excited to show them an authentic Spanish experience by taking them to Feria one night! It was about 95 degrees the evening we went, so I didn’t wear the big dress but we did look very nice all dolled up! Feria in Sevilla is big, beautiful and crazy, but there is something very cozy about Feria in our city, where we know a lot of people. We were able to bounce from caseta to caseta with no problems because of all the people we knew! We even had made a list of all the people we promised to visit at Feria that evening, and somehow managed to meet up with them all! I wish we could say we danced until dawn, but we had to call it an “early” night at 4:00am since we had to drive to Portugal the next day! However, it was great to have one last big hoorah with all our friends and coworkers.
Feria is definitely something you need local friends for in order to truly enjoy. You can easily get a taste of it from walking up and down the streets in the fairground, but nothing is the same as listening to a guitarist play typical Sevillano music while dancing in a beautiful dress in a tiny caseta! (Take my word for it). If you ever have the opportunity to visit Sevilla in the Spring, I highly recommend it. The city truly comes alive. Between the Holy Week processions, the flamenco dresses at Feria and orange trees in full bloom, there is so much color in this Andalusian capital!!
I will forever hold the claim that Feria is the best party in the world! Check out this video we made to capture all of the fun we had and stay tuned for a post about our weekend in Malaga!
Viva la Feria!! Amanda