The Seville Fair is also known as the Feria de Abril and it’s the most colorful festival of all Spain. In fact, the participants’ costumes, the horses and the exhibition of carriages combined with the regional extravagance remain the symbols of the largest fair of Andalucía.
It’s also one of the best opportunities to see the traditional dresses generally associated to Spanish culture. Many men and a large majority of women wear what’s called a traje de gitana, the Andalusian typical dress. And it’s the only time of the year they do so.
What is the Seville Fair?
The Feria de Abril is, along with the Semana Santa, the most important celebration in the city.
The fair officially lasts for six days, starting at midnight on Sunday when the alumbrado (the lighting inauguration) and el Pescaíto (a dinner only for the casetas‘ members in which they celebrate the beginning of the Feria) take place.
The fiesta (party) is basically divided into two parts:
- Daytime. Afternoon at the Feria is the time to see and be seen – this is when you’ll see people arriving in carriages and on horseback, and see everyone walking around in their Feria finest. One of the most beautiful things you can see is the midday parade of carriages and riders, also called paseo de caballos that is absolutely gorgeous and you can easily enjoy.
- Nighttime. When the sun goes down the real party starts as all-nighters devote their time to socialize while eating, drinking and dancing. The Feria “party all night” philosophy is absolutely extraordinary! So is nighttime made for partying until the wee hours of the morning.
The Seville Fair comes from a popular tradition dating from the mid 19th century as it was originally a livestock fair. When the first casetas appeared, the fair became the social gathering that you can witness today.
What are the Seville April Fair dates?
The Seville Fair begins two weeks after the Semana Santa (Holy Week).
As a matter of fact, the dates of the Feria vary from year to year since the Semana Santa (a Catholic festivity to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus) takes place during the first Sunday after the full moon. Therefore, the Seville Feria may take place between mid-April and the beginning of May.
Where does the Seville Fair take place?
The Feria de Abril takes place in a fairground called Real de la Feria de Sevilla, popularly known as El Real or Recinto Ferial.
The fairground is located in a huge area (250,000 square meters) next to the Guadalquivir river and Los Remedios neighborhood, to the south-west of the city.
This part of city serves the only purpose of hosting the Feria, so there’s nothing interesting going on during the rest of the year, especially because the casetas are not permanent. All of them are dismantled as soon as the Feria is over.
How is the Seville Fair organized?
It’s basically a pop up town with several streets.
The streets of the Real de la Feria are organized perpendicular to Calle Antonio Bienvenida, which is the main street of the venue. From the Portada, the different blocks of the fairgrounds are distributed (in a total of 25), which are delimited by streets and squares.
Each block of the Real de la Feria has a number of casetas that varies between 20 and 50, depending on their size, resulting in a total of 1,050 casetas approximately.
I’ve marked the Recinto Ferial area in the map below:
- Yellow area. Here is where the casetas are. It encompasses 15 streets, which are all named after famous bullfighters.
- Red area. Here is where La Calle del Infierno is, and where you’ll find all the attractions such as fairground rides and games.
There you also have tons of practical information (public casetas, public transportation, public toilets, information, police station).
What are the casetas?
The casetas are individual decorated marquee tents and are designed to house the socios and their guests during the fair. These are built temporarily on the fairground while the Seville Fair takes place and are removed once it’s over, until next year.
There are currently around 1,050 casetas registered. This gives you an idea of how big and important the Feria de Abril is to Sevillanos.
They generally belong to local families, groups of friends, companies, clubs, political parties and trade associations. Most of them belong to a group of anywhere from 10 to 50 members, usually both friends and family.
The only inconvenience is that most of the casetas are private – they are only open to members and their guests… So it’s mandatory to go with Sevillanos who will invite you to their caseta and to their friends’ ones. If not, you won’t be allowed to enter any of the private casetas!
However, it doesn’t mean you can’t go to the Feria or enjoy it. There’s an alternative in case you don’t know any locals: you can still go to one of the 17 public casetas. These are larger tents open to everyone!
- The most important one is the caseta municipal, owned by the City Council.
- Another 7 belong to the different districts of Seville.
- The rest represent a political party, union or a public institution.
Public casetas are obviously larger and hence, more crowded than private ones. But it’s still a very good chance to participate to the fiesta, enjoy the music and the incredible atmosphere.
If you want to know where the public casetas are, have a look at the map above. Each public caseta is marked with a green house icon, click on it and you’ll see the exact address.
What goes on in a private caseta?
Even though you’ll see people everywhere in the facilities walking from one caseta to another while meeting friends, the real party takes place inside each caseta. The main point is socializing (it’s an activity we Spaniards love to do!) while eating and drinking…
So here’s what’s really going on. Around 13:00 or 13:30 tapas and drinks begin to get served until the early hours of the next day, let’s say 6:00 or even 7:00! At the same time, sevillanas are played regularly and it’s the only musical genre you’ll listen to.
This is possible because each caseta is equipped with a bar, a kitchen and there’s either a sound system or a group of people performing live.
What are the origins of the Seville Fair?
Just like the vast majority of fairs in Andalucía, the April Fair is the evolution of the old cattle markets. These used to take place in almost every city in southern Spain, and Seville wasn’t lagging behind.
The first fair as we know it nowadays saw the light in April 1847, when the Town Hall approved its celebration as a cattle fair in an area calle Prado de San Sebastián, located between the University and the Plaza de España. The first stalls were open almost ten years after the inauguration, to provide some refreshment to those who came to Seville to sell their cattle.
In 1896 the Portada was built for the first time, and the magical electric lighting that makes it so special was added in 1906.
Little by little the commercial aspect began to lose importance and the festive and leisure air became more relevant. Around the mid-20th century, the fair converted into simple celebration.
By 1973 the Feria had outgrown its original site, and transferred to its current site.
This article is part of a complete tutorial about the Feria de Abril (Seville’s festival) where you can read all the information you need to make the most out of your experience.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. What is the Seville fair (Feria de Abril)?
2. Seville April Fair dates and calendar of events (2023)
3. Live the Seville Feria de Abril as locals do
4. 9 insider’s tips to enjoy la Feria de Abril, Seville’s colorful fair
5. Fair of Seville’s amusement park: la Calle del Infierno
6. Seville Spring Fair: glossary of terms