Midnight fireworks marking the end of Feria 2018 in Sevilla.
The April Feria in Sevilla is not my favourite thing – in fact it’s not even my favourite feria – but I do like stopping by for at least one afternoon to see the splendid horses and the lovely flamenco dresses. By chance this year it has also coincided with the azahar, which is still (just barely) on the trees. It also suddenly became summer yesterday, with beautiful blue skies and temps of around 32º or more.
So here are a few pics from yesterday, with possibly some “feria by night” ones to come. It’s been years since I’ve been to Feria in the evening, but I have an invitation to go tomorrow, so we shall see.
The noche de pescaíto (night of the fried fish) is a time-honoured tradition, taking place on Monday evening before the lighting up (the alumbrao) of the April fair grounds at midnight. Until now. When the powers that be decided last year that Feria should be extended to include two weekends – the more money to make, my dears – this meant that the alumbrao would now take place on Saturday night. Along with the pescaíto. Except at one special location in Sevilla that will not give up the traditional Monday evening custom.
The Antigua Abacería de San Lorenzo is host to all manner of weird and wonderful special events that celebrate various Sevillano traditions. And nobody does seasonal window dressing quite like husband & wife owners Ramón and María Carmen. It’s always a bit chaotic there and always a lot of fun.
I actually learned a couple of things tonight. First that THE sherry drink of the Sevilla feria (manzanilla) is a relatively recent thing – 30 years ago it used to be fino. ALSO… this whole noche de pescaíto thing is also only about 30 years old, and nobody seems to know how it started. Other than the evening before the alumbrao there were obviously people still setting up their casetas and having a casual meal before it all got lit up. Why it ended up being a fried fish meal remains a mystery (since you can actually have fried fish all week long at Feria). But whatever. The pescaíto and manzanilla at the Abacería tonight were great!
The plan had been to pop over to Jerez for the day, take in the feria during the afternoon, and then return to Sevilla in the evening. Then my friend Tomoko @TomokoTours told me about the Tío Pepe Challenge finals happening that evening and I scored an invitation for me and Peter. In theory we could have still come home on the last train while buying the tickets online I thought I’d just check to see if there were any hotels available at a reasonable rate – and there was!
An hour later, with a hastily packed bag and after last-minute “leaving cats overnight prep”, we were in a taxi to the train station. First stop (after checking into our hotel) was meeting up with Tomoko for a pre-feria lunch. Experience has taught me that it’s best not to try and eat at any ferias, so we had a bite at Tabanco Las Bandarillas before catching a bus up to the fair grounds. I was all ready to spend a happy hour or so taking photos of all the beautiful horses but… there weren’t any. I mean, there were the commercial horse carriages that you can hire for a ride around the grounds, but I didn’t see any individual riders other than a small group of them as we were leaving. I first noticed this dearth of horses a couple of years ago, and was told it was due to the heat wave that was going on at the time, and that the horse owners didn’t want to risk the health of their magnificent beasts. But this time, and also last year, were practically horseless, without the excuse of a heat wave. Has anyone else noticed this?
One of these could come in handy for taking in all the nearby ferias in May. Unusually, Sevilla’s famous Feria de Abril mostly took place in May too this year as it traditionally begins two weeks after Easter Sunday. I tend to prefer the smaller ferias and will try to get to at least a couple of these ones. Maybe see you there?
- Jerez de la Frontera May 13 – 20
- Dos Hermanas May 18 – 21
- Córdoba May 20 – 27
- Sanlúcar de Barrameda May 23 – 28
- El Puerto de Santa María May 24 – 29
This year’s Feria de Abril portada commemorates the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Expo and, imho, really couldn’t be uglier. This year there are two notable firsts. The Alumbrao (turning on of the lights and official opening) has been moved ahead to Saturday midnight, instead of the traditional Monday, in order to pack another weekend into the festivities. And there will be a Tourist Tent (caseta) for visitors, which will hopefully help them feel more welcome. A third possible first remains to be seen… whether my friend Cinta will be able to turn me into a Sevilla feria lover. She thinks she can. Game on! 😉
The Tío Pepe tram is back in town. A harbinger of the famous Feria de Abril, even though this year the annual presentation of Tío Pepe en Rama was moved to Madrid… so, you know, wtf?
Another big change this year is that the feria is starting on Saturday night instead of the usual Monday midnight to Sunday midnight. And Monday will be a local holiday. Hey, all the better to milk this whole deal for all it’s worth by throwing in an extra weekend. Olé!
Ania la Cordobesa
This is probably as close as I’m going to get to the Feria de Abril this year. Well, other than to maybe stop by one afternoon to take horse photos. Ania and I were invited to a pre-feria event at the Taberna del Alabardero and both of us agreed that it was a much more pleasant experience than the actual feria here.