If you’re planning on visiting the Seville Feria for the first time you’re going to need my help. I went in 2010 and had a crazy 24 hours getting to grips with the annual festival. In 2012 it runs from 24-29 April so you haven’t got long to get planning.
We’d had a hot tip off from our workaway host that the festival was going on – I’d actually never even heard of the Seville Feria before. The 10-day festival in the centre of Seville celebrates traditional Spain and steps back in history to a time when men, women and children rode horses into town and dances would break out on the street without warning or organisation.
What is the Seville Feria?
It’s a strange festival to explain. There are hundreds of specially erected booths, which are just like small tents that have been dressed up to create a bar. Some of these booths are for the general public – the skankier ones – but most of them are privately owned by anyone who’s anyone in Seville. They have security guards on the doors and beyond them you can see the Seville elite drinking wine, playing cards and gossiping. These tents are a status symbol. Thousands of euros are spent on decorations to be the best.
As well as these booths where you can buy food and drink, unless you’re in a private one and it’s free, there’s loads more to the festival. You can enjoy a whole range of local foods, the permanent bars will all be having some sort of celebration and there’s a huge fairground to enjoy too. Temporary shops are set up, animals are paraded around and there’s a showground area for the locals kids to show off their dance and gymnastic routines.
Exploring the tents
After walking around for a while in a fascinated daze we found a tent that would let us in and ended up with a Spanish tortilla and a few glasses of red wine for about €2 each. We sat at the bar looking out and watched the families going by having a great time.
We went from tent to tent trying to blag our way into the private ones now and again. We found one where everyone was going insane and dancing – the men and the women were spinning me round and I was having a brilliant time. We ordered more drinks and tapas and sat down to rest – the Spanish sure know how to party.
After a bit more tent hopping it was getting dark and you could tell everyone was getting worse for wear. All the dancing, drinking, eating and good spirits was taking its toll.
We sat in another tent watching this group of really drunk girls dancing together in the traditional Spanish way – it was brilliant. Afterwards I told the girl she was a great dancer and she thanked me loads and bought both me and Waiel a drink – jackpot! We didn’t sleep until 5am when we were pretty much forced to.
What to wear
I’d decided not to book any accommodation as it was mostly full and what was left was hyper expensive. I was planning on partying for 24 hour so wore jeans and a top and a jacket – I was hugely underdressed. Locals wore flamenco dresses, matador jackets and were perfectly styled; at least for the first few hours anyway.
What to take
I’d suggest taking some booze if you’re on a budget. It’s the one time of the year when the police don’t bat an eyelid at you boozing on the streets. We bought a few bottles of wine from the Almenticado and sat in the park to finish them off.
Where to sleep
There are loads of place to stay in Seville, but like I said it was a last minute decision for us to go so we actually ended up sleeping in a roundabout bush. For some reason in our drunken state we decided that would be safest place. We were safe enough, although I woke up covered in insect bites. Originally we’d tried to sneak into one of the closed up tents and sleep in there, but the security guards booted us out so we tried to hide in the bush.
Just take the Seville Feria slow and pace yourself and you’ll have a brilliant time! I can’t recommend sleeping in a motorway island bush though – book some accommodation!