All about the Feria de Abril in Seville

by Lorraine Williamson
Seville feria

SEVILLE – In 1999, the annual feria festivities in Seville marked the start of the romance between Willem Alexander and Máxima of the Netherlands. The current royal couple came to the spectacle in the blistering Andalucian capital for a reason, just like millions of others. 

All these people want to experience the special moment of the ‘alumbrao’, enjoy the ‘Noche de pescaíto’, dance to Sevillana music, or take a tour of one of the attractions. They also want to marvel at all the beautifully dressed Sevillanas in the most amazing and colourful flamenco dresses. 

When is the Seville Feria 2022? 

Even though the name ‘Feria de Abril’ suggests otherwise, this year’s festival takes place in May: from 1 to 7 May. Although on Saturday 30 April – explained later in this article – the ‘Pescaíto’ and ‘Alumbrao’ are celebrated. Furthermore, it is a tradition that the Feria de Abril starts two weeks after Easter. 

feria de abrilHow long will the Seville 2022 Feria last? 

From the lighting of the lights during the ‘alumbrao’ on Saturday evening April 30, the party will be celebrated until Saturday, May 7. That day a dazzling fireworks show puts an end to the festivities. Many Sevillians are eagerly looking forward to this week. Especially since they haven’t been able to celebrate this typical party for two years. 

What is the “noche de pescaíto”? 

‘la Noche de Pescaíto’ refers to the evening before the feria. Then it is tradition to dine in good and extensive company with fresh, fried fish. With it, you drink vino fino or manzanilla wine. For groups of friends, colleagues, or relatives, dinner is the vibrant start of a week-long party. After dinner, during the ‘alumbrao’, the lights in the entrance gate to the feria site and those of the feria site itself are lit. 

What is ‘El Alumbrao’ from the Feria de Abril? 

“El Alumbrao” is the Andalucian pronounced ‘alumbrado’, which means enlightenment in Spanish. The lighting in the entrance gate and the feria grounds marks the official start of the Feria de Abril at midnight on Saturday 30 April. Usually, the mayor of the city pushes a button and from that moment on, little by little, all the lights come on, starting at the entrance gate. 

caseta furniture at the Seville feriaWhat can you do during the Feria de Abril in Seville? 

There is plenty to do at the Feria. You can visit the public ‘casetas’ (party tents) to have a snack or a drink or even to dance late into the night. Watch the locals closely and learn to dance a Sevillana. Try out a ‘rebujito’ or stroll around endlessly in the most beautiful dress that you have bought for the occasion, or visit the fair. 

What is a ‘rebujito’? 

A rebujito is a drink typical of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla. It consists of vino fino or a manzanilla wine (dry sherry), diluted with a lime or lemon flavoured soft drink. Fresh ‘hierbabuena’ (a kind of mint) leaves have been added to this. 

What is the name of the feria area? 

The place where the most important festivals of the year are celebrated throughout Spain, including Seville, is called ‘El recinto Ferial’. Often, especially for those celebrations, there is a large open space in the city that serves as a parking lot or where markets are held for the rest of the year. 

Where is the feria site in Seville? 

El Recinto Ferial de Sevilla is located between the Los Remedios and Tablada neighbourhoods. The site is divided into three sectors: El Real de la Feria (the area with the marquees), La Calle del Infierno (here is the funfair with all the attractions), and the car park. 

How many casetas are there at the Seville Feria? 

In 2019, the last year that the feria was celebrated, there were no fewer than 1,052 casetas or marquees. And they are not tents but stone buildings with simple kitchen facilities. All those casetas are located in an area of ​​1.2 million square metres. The area with casetas is subdivided into 24 ‘neighbourhoods’. 

cogesa expats

Which casetas allow tourists? 

In contrast to the Ferias in many other Spanish places, the Feria of Seville is a relatively closed affair. Many casetas are only accessible to members who pay for them. Fortunately, a few of the 1,052 casetas on the feria grounds are publicly accessible. Usually, these are the casetas of the municipality and a few other public institutions. As a tourist, you can only enter these. You can recognise them by the Andalucian flag or colours (green and white) and by typical decorations such as flowers. 

How do you join a caseta in Seville? 

You can apply for membership via the website of the Municipality of Seville (www.sevilla.org) from 9.00 am on November 2 until 11.59 pm on November 15. Requests can be filed online or physically through the general register. 

How much does a caseta membership cost? 

The annual costs for a caseta at the Feria de Abril vary between €600 and €12,000. For the highest amount, you can assume that all drinks are included in the caseta. 

What will the entrance gate to the feria grounds look like this year? 

This year it was decided that the ‘Portada’ will have the design that was devised for the festival in 2020 but could not take place due to the corona pandemic. It is inspired by the arcade of the main courtyard of the famous and exclusive hotel Alfonso XIII. The gate consists of the main section on two levels and two towers at the ends. Those represent the emblematic tower at the end of the hotel closest to the Puerta de Jerez. 

Who designed the entrance gate? 

Seville architect Francisco Javier Navarro de Pablos submitted the design of the entrance gate in 2020. He christened it “NODO XIII. Una historia de viajeros” (Nodo XIII, a history of travellers). 

How much is the entrance gate of the Feria de Sevilla? 

The costs for the ‘Portada de la Feria’ are around €500,000. The gate is 38 metres high and 46 metres wide. The depth is 6 metres and the volume is 3,450 cubic metres. In total, 25,000 LED lamps are attached and 35,000 linear metres of tubes are used for the frame. 

What can be found on Calle del Infierno? 

The Calle del Infierno is the fairground of the Feria de Abril de Sevilla. On an area of ​​87,000 square metres there are almost 400 funfair activities for the entertainment of all target groups, but especially for children. Think of bumper cars, trains, merry-go-rounds, a roller coaster, and other typical fairground attractions. You will also find many for food, such as candy floss, ice cream stalls, nougat stalls, water, and flower stalls, stalls where you can buy buñoles (kind of donuts), a circus, live shows, stalls with stuffed animals, and other children’s toys and much more. 

How long does the funfair last? 

This year the municipality has decided that the fair can start on Thursday before the ‘alumbrao’ and can continue until Sunday 8 May. That means 11 days of funfair for the enthusiasts! 

walking in Seville in flamenco dresses at the feriaWhat do people do during the Feria de Sevilla? 

During the festivities, you can expect the revellers from Seville or the surrounding area to dress in their best traditional dresses and suits and meet in their caseta to eat, drink and dance. In between, they also enjoy themselves at the fair. Although the Feria originated as a cattle market, today the Feria de Abril de Sevilla is one of the most emblematic celebrations in the city. A party where the colours, music, and dance so typical of Andalucia are omnipresent. 

Also read: Ferias, Festivals, and Celebrations in Spain 2022

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