The Feria de Abril in Seville is one of the most popular celebrations in Spain where you can enjoy sevillanas, bullfights, flamenco music & dancers.
Every spring, the city of Sevilla throws a week-long party known as La Feria de Sevilla in which over a million people attend. La feria originally started as a cattle trading fair in 1847 and evolved throughout the years into an amazing round-the-clock spectacle of all that is Spanish. Sevilla is considered the center of flamenco music and culture, mostly known as "Sevillanas" because many of the composers and songs come from this Andalusian city.
The fair festivities take place in temporary tarp city set up near the Rio Guadalquivir. This rectangular piece of land called Real de la Feria is about a mile long and 700 yards wide. The individual tents or casetas, are made of brightly-colored canvas and are decorated with thousands of paper lanterns. While this set-up was originally created for the cattle market, today's casetas are impromptu dance halls in which every night you can catch flamenco music and dancing starting around 9pm and lasting to 6 or 7 in the morning! The women all wear spectacularly colored Gypsy-inspired flamenco dresses, and everyone--young and old - takes in a glass or two of sherry and get on the dance floor.
The casetas are hosted by various groups of aristocratic Sevillan families, clubs, trade unions and political parties. Each individual tent has its own atmosphere and tradition. Some provide “invitation-only” affairs, while others are "free" with bars open to the public. Part of the fun of attending la feria is to wander around searching for the right-vibe caseta that works for you. A notorious and fun caseta is "Er 77," where the wine is drawn from a well or poured from buckets and beds are provided in the back area to sleep off the wine! Another famous tent is "Los Duendes de Sevilla" (The Goblins of Seville) named after a play by Alvarez Quintero.
Even though you'll probably spend most of the night stomping and clapping your way through the casetas, keep in mind that la feria has a full program of daytime events such as checking out the daily parades of horses and decorated carriages that make their way through the city and fairgrounds. This equestrian event is accompanied by strolling singers who play traditional Sevillana ballads on their guitars. Many of the parade participants are members of Sevilla's high aristocracy, and can often be seen exquisitely dressed with the wide-brimmed "bolero" hats and short-cropped jackets that are very closely associated with Andalusia.
Afternoons can give you glimpses of another Spanish staple -- Las corridas or bullfights. La Feria attracts top-notch matadors from all over Spain and the bullfighting of this fair are considered to be the best ones of the season. The action takes place at 5:30pm every afternoon in the infamous Plaza de Toros de Maestranza, popularly known to the locals as "the Cathedral" because it is considered one of the most beautiful bullrings in the country. Tickets can be purchased at the bullring entrance, and can be quite expensive.
You'll find the atmosphere of La Feria typically of the region of Andalusia -- relaxed yet intense. The Sevillanos are very outgoing people, making it easy for a foreigner to strike up conversations and make new friends.