Taking place in April, the fair is a stunning show of local culture, traditional dresses and family wealth – in a usually warm temperature (watch out for those April showers!). Below, I will give you a cheeky look into my time at feria, how I prepared for it, then I will go into where you can buy the outfit in Seville (for a fairly reasonable price) and how you can navigate this local celebration. I hope you find it useful, as ever.
You know what it’s like with traditions and national prides, some people love it, some people hate it! And after living in Seville’s for over five months, I found myself with mixed feelings approaching the fair. When I had first arrived it was one of the biggest things I was looking forward to, refreshing drinks, good weather, beautiful (emjoi-like) dresses, horses, dancing and general joviality. What more could you want, right? But of course, both expats and locals here who I had made friends with told me how they felt about it:
“It’s just locals flashing their wealth. It’s just not my thing”
“Sevillanos will save up for the whole year for this event, and spend it all in this week, it’s stupid”
“I don’t agree with the animal treatment”
“It’s very much for the locals, not for us”
Then you had the other camp:
“Everbody is just so happy for a whole week, you can’t help but absorb the energy”
“It’s my favourite time of year”
“I can’t wait for this week to pass so it can be feria already”
“I can’t wait to practice Sevillanas (the dance)!”
You see, there are probably a few things you should know about Seville’s Feria, if you don’t know already.
- The tents (casetas) are mostly private, apart from around 10. They are owned by local families, organisations and businesses – meaning that if you don’t know people in one of these tents, you have to remain outside or go to the public tents which, let’s say aren’t as nice or intimate, and don’t give the full experience.
- There is mostly the local music that plays with a choreographed dance. There are around four different types to learn. (Sevillianas)
- There is a very specific traditional dress code for men and women. However, you totally can come in your regular clothes, but something a bit fancy.
- Bullfighting takes places and horses die often from neglect and exhaustion every year. The exact number is hard to get, but even this year (2018) there has been an incident featured on the news about a horse who died, and the week is not yet finished.
Disclaimer: Now, I’m a positive kind of gal. So apologies if my including this puts a damper on the beauty of this festival. But as you know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I do my best to have open and honest conversations, then let you be the judge of how you would like to continue your travels.
How to get an outfit
Okay, so you can picture it. I have just over a week until Feria and I suddenly descend into panic: I haven’t got my feria dress! A friend of mine had got hers around three weeks prior to this and it was a gorgeous find. It was also 400 euros. Now being that I work locally with a bit of extra work on the side, this was completely and scarily out of my budget.
I consulted my good friend Eli, who is originally from Cadiz (very close to Seville) and she suggested I rent a dress. Perfect! She sent me a website that would actually rent deliver to my door and come and pick it up when I was done. All I needed to do was put in my measurements. But of course, I became apprehensive: what if it still doesn’t fit? etc etc.
It was then one day, while I was walking to work I stumbled across one of the many flamenco stores in the center of Seville. I asked if they did rentals and they were like “no but we’re very cheap so check us out” (in Spanish, of course). This little shop, I can’t recommend enough. You can see my outfit below. I managed to get my dress, flower, plus tailoring for 160 euros, plus, the whole experience was just like shopping with your aunties. They are totally here for the advice and making you look and feel fabulous.
So the place I got my dress from is called Somos Flamencos, Sierpes 59 , Esquina Moreno López, 41004 Seville, Spain.
The websites my friend told me about are here: beflamenca.es, flamencoymas.com, sevilla.abc.es/estilo, alpagui.com.
But I would also advise generally asking around for a rental shop that you can go in and try them on for yourself.
my Feria experience
Entering into Feria felt like stepping into a scene from a movie from olden days. The start of feria begins with a huge arch that is newly decorated each year. And then it is a rush of colours, energy and people which almost feels surreal. Me being in a particularly pensive state at the time – and quite honestly hot in my dress – thought in the moment about the tradition, why it is important? I thought of tradition when it promotes a sort of blind insistence from people without really thinking about why they are doing what they do.
Seville’s feria had its humble beginnings in a local market, with time, it developed a social element. Today, that social element is catered for with over one thousand casetas. Looking from that local perspective, for families who have a caseta, or a long time local with connections to get into a couple of casetas, I can imagine that this event is unreal. The epitome of good times. Some of my local friends would have lunch with their family during the day, and then party until five in the morning with their friends. And so I really believe that on that level, the element of family, friends and celebration must give part of Seville’s community a truly unforgettable event.
Not having the opportunity to spend proper time in a local caseta limited my experience as mentioned, and so it just kind of felt like spending time with friends drinking, taking beautiful photos, and having the most convoluted toilet runs (let’s just say one must be untied before going to the bathroom in the traditional feria dress). But as always with Seville, it impressed me by its multigenerational inclusiveness. From newborn to granny, all are and feel welcome, they move together like a very gracious dance, and even after being here for five months, I still enjoy watching it.
How to get the best out of Feria
Here are some tips I have and have received about making the most out of Feria:
- It’s better to experience it during the day, by the night as you can imagine people are pretty drunk and at that point it might get a bit messy
- Try to get into a local caseta, you can potentially charm your way into one where you don’t know the person
- In support of the above, some tour companies to have their own casetas, so it’s worth asking if you have used an operator for your trip
- Your Feria dress is long, feel free to wear comfortable shoes, pretty heels are not necessary
- Make sure your dress floats a little bit off the ground as the floor will have drink and horse poo lol
- It’s quite expensive, so perhaps bear that in mind if you are on a budget! Eat or drink before etc
- Try to learn how to dance Sevillanos, there are classes offered in Facebook expat groups like Expats Sevilla
- Wednesday is a good day to catch the Feria as it is when the locals are off work and will go, be weary of the last weekend as it will be full of tourists, like yourself
Between 6-10 euros for a jug of the official feria drink
8 euros for me to get a cab home from feria to the centre of Seville
3/4 euros for a small sandwich, plates of food are 7 euros upwards
Would I go again? Definitely. But mostly if I could tap more into the local experience. I would probably wear the same dress though and not invest too much in the outfit have you been to Sevilla’s Feria before? I’d genuinely love to get your thoughts below. And for sure if you are heading to Feria when you read this please do feel free to leave a comment or ask me any questions on my social media channels.
Hasta luego amigos!
Still reading? Well alright! Read about my move to Seville, and my thoughts on suffering from ‘Superwoman Syndrome’ in this article. Also, visit the useful websites page for your next travel plans!
The post The Traveller’s Guide to the Feria of Seville (Feria De Abril) appeared first on Wading Wade.