The April fair Seville is held around two weeks after Easter celebrations each year and now draws over a million people a year. A large number of visitors come from all over Spain and all corners of the globe to enjoy one of Spain’s most colourful Spanish Festivals. The fair began back in 1947 as a cattle fair and over the years took on a more typical Spanish festival feel as we know them today.
The Seville Fair starts officially on the Monday with the Dining of Fish ( “La cena del pescaito”), and the parade in which the city mayor presides over before switching on the lights around midnight, this is usually accompanied by a spectacular firework display which booms out across the city announcing that the fair is officially underway.
Apart from the fun, shows, drinking, partying and general merriment, the fair has become a true celebration of flamenco dancing. Many of the most famous dancers , composers and singers of this passionate art form come from Seville.
Although the festivities are spread throughout the city the fair takes place mainly in an area called the Real de la Fería algon by the Guadalquivir River. A huge temporary city made out of tents erected on a large piece of land some 1 km in length. The make-shift “marquee tents” are known in Spanish as “casetas” and they divide the land into different halls and private areas used for dancing, parties and shows and are filled each evening until the early hours of the following morning.
The local ladies, young and old dress in spectacularly colourful Flamenco dresses gowns, inspired by Gypsy fashion. Traditional folk music , dressing up in colourful costumes, amazing all night parties and much fun are high on the agenda to most locals and visitors.
The casetas are a focal point of all Andalucian festivals and this one is no different, only on a much larger scale, many casetas are hosted by wealthy families from Seville , politicians, large companies, official city organisations and trade unions. Each one is set up and decorated differently depending on who the host is and many are private and by invitation only.
There are enough public casetas though open for visitors to enjoy the special atmosphere of these colourful marquees which are the central focal point of the non stop activities during the weeks festivities.
If you take the time to learn the basis steps of the famous Sevillanas, a twirling traditional dance from Sevilla, you will enjoy the fair even more as this is performed and danced by the young and old, rich and poor and men and women throughout the week in every corner of the city.
There are spectacular daily parades of hundreds of ornate and flower-decked horse drawn carriages which run through the city centre to the main fair grounds. And for the younger ones the street of hell ( Calle del infierno ) is a must visit, all but a noisy one. The streetsis full of attractions from merry go rounds and stomach churning rides.
The fair has undoubtedly become an important tourism attraction with visitors now flying in from all the globe which fills the hotels, hostels, restaurants and tapas bars all over Seville.
So although its commercial importance is very significant for the local economy the fair has managed to retain its traditional and cultural roots so that everyone can fully enjoy the vibrant and friendly Andalucian heritage to the full.
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