Extravagant and sensuous, Spain’s fourth city entices with brilliant monuments, gardens, tapas bars, flamenco shows and full-on nightlife.
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Seville, Andalusia, Spain|www.visitasevilla.es|
After all the solemnity of Holy Week (Semana Santa), Seville lets its hair down for a week-long party – Feria de Abril, or April Fair.
It starts on a Monday, with a fish feast and the midnight illumination of the thousands of lights of the gate to the Real de la Feria fairgrounds on the far bank of the Guadalquivir. Here over a thousand striped tents, (the casetas), are set up, for socializing, tapas, rebujito (sherry with lemon soda) and dancing sevillanas, the local flamenco.
The streets are decorated with thousands of lanterns; nearly everyone is dressed in traditional costume, the women in long, ruffle-fringed traje de gitana (flamenco dresses) with flowers or lace mantillas in their hair; and the nearby funfair in Calle del Infierno reverberates with screams of laughter.
In the afternoon watch the paseo de caballos, the spectacular parade of Seville high society in traditional traje corto (riding dress) – wide-brimmed hats, short jackets, tight trousers, boots and hats. The horses are just as exquisitely-groomed horses with ornate, often flower-covered bridles.
It all ends on Sunday at midnight with an explosion of fireworks over the Guadalquivir.
Stick around until midnight on Monday for the illuminations of the gate and for the firework extravaganza on Sunday.
Getting there & doing it
From the centre, catch buses C1, C2 or 41 that run 24 hours a day to the fairgrounds during Feria.
Much of the fun takes place in casetas, temporary venues set up by businesses, organizations, and private groups for eating, drinking, music and dancing. Most casetas are private but there are also seven large public ones (there is a map at the entrance) including one especially for foreign visitors, open noon to 3am, with a multilingual staff.
You don’t need tickets, unless you want to go to a bullfight, but they are sold out months in advance.
Because of high prices and crowds and long queues at the large public casetas, it’s a good idea to eat before you go. The weekends are the most crowded; arrive early then to get a good view and photos of the paseo de caballos.
When to do it
The fair goes on day and night, and for most visitors, a day is often enough to get a good taste of the fiesta. The parade of horses and costumes is the highlight (the best time is 2pm). The party atmosphere starts at 9pm, when everyone heads back to the fairgrounds after the bullfight, with plenty of sherry, tapas, music and dancing until the early hours.
Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
A big dazzling region, packed with fascinating cities, beautiful landscapes and beaches, colourful fiestas and oodles of sunshine.