The April Fair (Sevilla)

Andalusia, Spanish culture, Spanish traditions | April 26, 2012 | No comments

These days takes place in Sevilla the very famous April Fair: one of the most renowned and recognizable festive celebrations of the Andalusian and Spanish folklore. Colorful, lively and “authentic”, it has become the expression of the way of life in the south of Spain.

The fair wasn’t meant to be a fun-oriented event in its origins, but a cattle fair promoted in 1846 by the stockbreeders Narciso Bonaplata, Catalan of origin, and José María de Ybarra, born in the Basque Country. The bureaucracy wanted it so that they received the permit for the fair to take place in March 1847, and a month later its history began.

April's Fair in Sevilla

Shortly after, the Fair established itself as an event oriented towards fun and enjoyment. Around 1850 the first marquees were built, for the purpose of giving shelter and relax to the visitors that came to buy the cattle, and soon it was necessary to separate the recreational area from the animals, due to the growing crowds.

The place where the fair is set has also changed through the years: until 1972 the Fair took place at the San Sebastian prairie, but due to the fact that there were more and more visitors and marquees each year, it was decided to move the fair to the Barrio de los Remedios. It is funny that the first fair that was celebrated there (in 1973) had to be programmed for the first days of May. In a resolution that perfectly fits the picaresque and wit of the Andalusian nature, the problem was solved by inaugurating the Fair on the night of the 30th of April.

Apart from its location, you can’t miss the April Fair: locating the spectacular façade at its entrance, illuminated with thousands of light bulbs, is enough to find its whereabouts. The façade is a temporal construction (it is pulled down when the festivities end), and its design is never repeated twice. This custom started in 1922, when the monumental gate to the San Sebastian prairie was demolished and the organizers “substituted” it with a small structure: it wasn’t until 1949 that the gigantic façades we can see today started being built.

Once inside, it is recommendable to have some Sevillian friends. Aside from serving as a guide, they can explain to us which marquees are public and which are private. Furthermore, it is very possible that these friends know someone who, with great hospitality, might sneak us inside one of those private marquees, which are less crowded and more tranquil.

Classic and modern "flamencas"

Classic and modern flamencas

By the way, some people have asked us if it is compulsory to wear the flamenca dress (also called “de faralaes”) to attend the festivity. We want to make clear that it is perfectly possible to attend it on our daily clothes, but if one has enough resources, it can be nice tailoring (or renting) one of these dresses. Just to have the whole April Fair experience.

This being said, we just want to remind the visitor to be quick: the Fair lasts only six days and, for what we know, it is never the same. It is always incomparable.


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