Having been abroad last year for only the autumn months, I never had the chance to experience what is widely considered the most exciting week of the year in Seville: La Féria de Abril. For those people who haven’t heard of it (and who may have been mildly confused by my outrageous snap stories), Féria is a week-long celebration of…well, being Spanish, basically. It isn’t a religious event, although the Féria is so popular in Seville that the first Monday is a regional holiday. It’s an indescribable experience, and to see it is pretty much (as one Spanish student of mine told me, somewhat resentfully) “every Spanish stereotype rolled into one.” Women don elaborate trajes de gitana (think of the flamenco dancing emoji), that can cost an upwards of 300€, and comically large flowers directly on top of their heads. Though subjectively I am not the biggest fan of the dresses themselves, I was pleasantly surprised by how different I felt once it was on me. A Spanish friend once said to me that every woman looks more beautiful in a traje de gitana, and after wearing mine and seeing the women of Seville parade through the streets in theirs, I feel compelled to agree. The dresses are designed to fit snugly (in the case of mine, maybe a bit too snugly, but for only 25€ I can hardly complain), and therefore accentuate every curve. Men have it much easier (and cheaper), and typically only wear suits. But on the whole, everyone is dressed to the nines, and I have to say it’s a bit jarring to see guiris arrive in jeans and a t-shirt (I’ve been here for almost a year, I’m no longer a guiri, right? Right???).
Besides the dressing up, there really isn’t too much to the Féria. It’s held on a huge fairground in the neighborhood of Los Remedios, which for the rest of the year sits empty and undisturbed. Lucky for me, I live within walking distance and don’t have to squeeze myself onto one of the many buses parading tipsy Sevillanos to and from the fair. For the week of Féria, the fairground is transformed into a carnival-like atmosphere, with rides in one area and the rest filled with casetas (large, fancy tents that Spanish families or businesses rent out and have catered). Because Spanish people pay big money for these casetas, they’re mostly private and invite-only, which is a unpleasant surprise for a lot of tourists who come to the fair and unable to enter them. However, there are a few public casetas, some of which are really fun. It helps to know a person from Seville who is familiar with the fair and can tell you where to go.
The drink of Féria is called a rebujito, which is a super sweet cocktail of sherry and citrus soda. It’s served in a large pitcher, which you then pour into little cups or wine glasses (this was unbeknownst to me and my friend, who upon receiving our respective rebujitos, assumed you drank directly from pitcher (see above picture). What do you expect from recent postgrads who drank boxed wine straight out of the bag in college?).
The dance of Féria is Sevillanas, which every person from Seville seems to be born already knowing. It consists of four different mini-dances, or pasos, which look relatively simple but in reality involve a lot more coordination than I am capable of giving. My friend Pedro’s mom tried in vain to teach me and my friend Emma, which only resulted in her near tears in laughter at our utter hopelessness. ¡Olé!
All in all, Féria is basically a week long, 24-hour fiesta, and has only further confirmed to me that Spanish people have inhuman stamina when it comes to partying. After only three nights of it, I feel as if I need a week long siesta. ¡Buenas noches!