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Five Point Guide to Enjoyment at Seville’s April Fair

The countdown has started to the days when Seville gets decked out in all its colour and finery, dressed up once more in polka-dot and flounced skirts, parading about on horseback and in carriages, a time when Sevillians again dream full blast and the monumental gate at the fairground lights up to announce the start of theFeria de Abril.Each year hordes of visitors – what with locals, regulars, celebrities, tourists and passers-by – descend on Seviile’s fairground to experience what is possibly one of the leading Andalusian festivities, El Rocío notwithstanding, of course. Now, what should newcomers to the Fair do, and what should they know, in order to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb? Here are some pointers to attending the April Fair without dying in the attempt.

1. Origins of the Feria de Abril

What was to become one of the most popular fiestas in Andalusia made its debut some time around 1846. It was created by Narciso Bonaplata and José María de Ybarra, two businessmen resident in Seville. It started out as a purely commercial, agricultural fair but then grew over the years – the first casetas (stalls) began to appear, as did the first decorative elements and it was eventually transferred to its current fairground and transformed into an entertainment event.

2. Where and When

The April Fair is held in grounds located in the district of Los Remedios. The best way to get there is by metro (get off at the Parque de los Príncipes or Plaza de Cuba stops), or the special bus service laid on by the Seville City Council for fair attendees. And no – do not go there by car, because trying to park can turn out to be a nightmare.

As for dates, the Seville Fair is usually held one or two weeks after Holy Week and lasts for six days, although this year, by popular vote, it will be extended by another day.

3. Once in the Fairground…

The fairground is divided into two areas – the Real de la Feria, where the casetas are located, and another known as the Calle del Infierno (Street of Hell), home to the various attractions, which the Sevillians have rechristened as cacharritos (“rattletraps” or “clunkers”). As the saying goes, “a friend in need is a friend indeed” and here, at the Seville Fair, you will need a well-connected friend to facilitate access to the casetas, the only place where you can experience the festivity in all its splendour. Not all the casetas are private, but there are far fewer public ones and they tend to be crowded.

4. Dress Code is Important

Part of the charm of this fiesta resides in the splendid colourfulness of the costumes worn by women, and the elegance of the suits worn by men. Sevillians take the garments they show off at the Feria de Abril very seriously and there are even flamenco fashion labels and catwalks that set the latest trends for the season. So, if you want to avoid being conspicuous, you could hire a costume (you’ll have to fork out about 150 euros a day for a Sevillian dress) or settle for adding some flamenco highlights to your apparel, namely such accessories as the typical flower, earrings, necklace and shawl. As for men, chino or peg trousers and a shirt, with a suit or sports jacket. Bear in mind that the ”Lunes del Alumbrado“ (Monday of Lights), also known as the Noche del Pescaíto (Night of the Little Fish), is the only time when flamenco attire is not worn.

5. “Rebujito” and “Pescaíto” – the Culinary Leading Lights

Rebujito is the April Fair drink par excellence. This combination of a dry sherry – manzanilla or fino – with Sprite, 7 Up or mint has its origins in an English cocktail from the Victorian era known as Sherry Cobbler, and is served up in all the casetas. Beware, though, as the hangover it produces is one of the most feared, so try not to get swept away by all the excitement and drink in moderation. The other leading light of Seville’s Fair is the fried fish or pescaíto frito typically consumed on the “Night of the Alumbrado”, with other notable favourites being chickpeas and codfish, bull’s tail and the churros and buñuelos (fritters) that mark the end of the fiesta.

Fire up and come to Seville’s April Fair, to be held from 30 April to 7 May – book your Vueling here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Photos by Sandra Vallaure

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