My first few days in Sevilla, Spain truly felt like a dream. Part of this was due to severe jet lag. Prior to my arrival, I managed to live on flights and airport floors for approximately 3 days straight in order to get from LAX to Spain, leaving me in a dazed state. The other reason for this dream like sensation derived from the energy and appearance of the city itself. Unknowingly, I had arrived to Sevilla in the middle of a cherished cultural holiday known as La Feria (essentially translated as the town fair).
Imagine horse drawn carriages wobbling over cobblestoned alleyways. The streets filled with women, men, children, and elderly all walking arm in arm headed towards the fairgrounds. Flamenco dresses left and right displaying every colorful and playful pattern possible. Men donned in tuxedos and top hats riding on horseback with their significant other sitting saddle-side behind them. The sun is bright and glorious making the Andalusian spring even more appealing and the sweet smell of rebujito (wine beverage) fills the air.
By means of an introduction to Spain, arriving in the midst of La Feria is a warm welcome hard to outdo.
The festive event lasts approximately one week, and there is extremely limited downtime, as Andalusians know how to start a party in the morning that lasts until breakfast the next day! The fair has a vibrant energy during both the night and day, I would highly encourage visiting the fair at several times of day to get a more complete experience.
The grounds of the fair are largely divided into two different segments: a juxtaposition of new entertainment beside old traditions. The traditional side hosts strips of casetas. The casetas resemble fair booths that are constructed to hold 30, 40, sometimes even 50 people. Groups of Spaniards, whether it be family or friends, will rent out a caseta for the duration of La Feria as the primary point of celebration, meeting, eating, and dancing. The casetas can be either private or public, allowing guiri’s como yo (foreigners like me) to practice Sevillana dance moves. Casetas are placed side by side to one another, essentially forming a miniature town of small houses with streets in between. Walking amongst the casetas is similar to viewing a rapid slide show of festive, traditional, private parties with endless dancing, singing and clapping.
Beside this scene, resides the more urbanized side of the fair. Amusement rides with screaming children and all the different types of fair food you can imagine take up the remaining space of the fair. Walking between the two sides of the fair is like taking a cultural passage through time.
Hasta la proxima feria!