This is the most celebrated week of revelry in all of Spain. You'll need to reserve a hotel early for this one! For general information and exact festival dates, contact the Office of Tourism in Seville (tel. 95-422-14-04).
The Feria de Sevilla, or Feria de Abril (April Fair), was originally just a regional cattle-market, but through the years it turned out to be one of the greatest popular festivities in Spain. You will have the opportunity to see the typical flamenco dresses which almost all women wear. Innumerable casetas - provisional houses - are built on the terrain and decorated with colorful lamps. In the morning the landowners arrive, on horses or in horse-coaches. In the afternoon a great party commences, with all-night flamenco dancing, entertainment booths, bullfights, horseback riding, flower-decked coaches, and dancing in the streets. This is repeated day by day over the course of an entire week. In the following weeks there are similar but of course much smaller Ferias in many of the villages and towns around, to celebrate the coming of Spring.
Details of the Feria. The Fair is a huge ephemeral city of red and white, or green and white, canvas tents illuminated at night by hundreds of thousands of light bulbs. The main entrance gate is a huge monument that each year resembles one of the city's prominent buildings or sites. La Feria de Abril begins every year with the official lighting of the lanterns where half a million little lights are turned on at once, especially at the main gate. Normally this celebration begins Monday at midnight and ends with a fireworks display the following Sunday. There are more than a thousand casetas, but still there are many petitions for casetas that must be rejected due to space considerations. The Feria, where the natural beauty of the Sevillana girls and women is enhanced by the typical flamenca dresses, is an ideal place for cordiality and friendship amongst glasses of manzanilla wine or Jerez (sherry) and tapas, with singing and couples dancing Sevillanas (a local version of the flamenco dance) both inside and outside the tents.
The casetas are made of a metal base and then covered with a green or red pin-striped canvas, each stripe about 10 cm. wide. At the outside of the tent you will find banisters and little triangle-shaped flags. The flags crown the facade of the tent in medieval style, and sometimes show the casetas' name or logo. Also required are striped curtains at the entrance with a small canvas roof. The inside of the tents are divided into three parts, usually separated by curtains. The first is the noble part, which cannot have advertising and is usually decorated by the tenants. The decoration should camouflage the second part. The floor is generally made of wooden planks, although some not. In the noble section a floor is set up suited for dancing.
Next to the Feria you can find a huge amusement park, called "Calle del Infierno" - "Hell's Street." When you walk around there you understand why it got this name, for all its noisy spectacle and brain-addling rides!