Every year, the Andalusian city of Seville gets turned upside down with one of the largest and internationally known fairs in Spain. April Fair or Feria de Abril, in Spanish, usually begins two weeks after Holy Week is celebrated, with dates ranging anywhere from the lasts weeks of April until the first weeks of May. The fair lasts about one week, but residents of Seville, known as Sevillanos, are awaiting this magical fiesta all year long. During the festivities a huge area in Los Remedios, next to the city’s Guadalquivir River, fills with music, food, dance and hundreds of casetas where typical Andalusian cuisine is served. Throughout the fair you will see the Sevillanos dressed in typical garb: women in vibrant polka-dotted flamenco or gypsy dresses and men as traditional field workers.
Today we introduce you to Emilio Suero, Food & Beverage Corporate Director for Spain, Portugal, Andorra and NH Resorts, who’ll explain to us his passion and excitement behind the spectacular April Fair and why it’s considered one of the most important weeks of the year for Sevillanos.
When did your passion for the April Fair begin?
For most people from Seville, the love of the fair begins when we are very young. It’s a meeting place for families, friends and colleagues.
Most of us have taken our first steps or have played in the stands at the fair. Even from an early age we awaited the arrival of the Fair to be able to go to the famous Calle del Infierno (amusement park inside the fairgrounds), all of these things create fond memories and excitement for this festival from a very young age.
They say that Seville has a special color. What does April Fair have that others don’t?
In my profession I have had the opportunity to travel a lot and meet many regional festivals, many of which are extraordinary. Perhaps Seville’s April Fair is special to me mainly for its range of possibilities, the extraordinary image it portrays and the ability to live different experiences within one single environment.
The April Fair combines day fair, the horse parade, bullfighting, the carriages, colorful outfits with flamenco dancing, local cuisine. The night fair includes, live flamenco groups, the Calle del Infierno for children….
Tell us the main difference of the Fair by day and the night Fair?
The Day Fair is known for being the best time for lunches with family and friends, but it is also used as business meals as many companies have their own casetas and take the opportunity to entertain their clients, partners or staff.
During this part of the day, there is an abundance of color with most women dressed in Flamenco dresses…. it’s a time to ride horses and carriages (From 12:00 to 20:00 h) and of course attend the bullfights at La Maestranza.
At night, the horses leave and the fairgrounds become a much more festive area with where we go from caseta to caseta eating tapas paired with Sherry wine. We listen to live Flamenco groups and dance long into the night.
What is the dress code for each moment of the Fair?
The Fair allows any outfit but is traditional for women to wear typical Sevillan flamenco dresses and for men to wear a suit coat and tie (or scarf adorned with a flower).
In the case of the riders, they must wear a short costume or Amazon style suit (you can not enter the premises without complying with this riding code).
Do you think the importance Sevillanos give to the April Fair is the key to its internationality?
Absolutely, the intensity in which the Sevillanos live their festivals, the affection with which they decorate the casetas, the cordiality with which they treat the visitors…. Its a combination of things that makes you realize they really immerse themselves into the festival.
How does a Sevillano live the Fair? Is it possible to juggle work while also attending the Fair?
We usually try to regulate the visits during the week, starting with the famous “Noche del Pescaito” and the lighting ceremony on the first Monday and then we try to visit the Fair during the day or night depending on our work schedule. It really is a week of “sacrifice” for us Sevillanos as the city does not stop and it is very common to have to go to work after having gone out the prior night or leaving work to go directly to the fairgrounds.
The casetas are the heart and soul of the Fair. How would you describe it to an outsider that wants to visit fairgrounds?
The casetas are a meeting place and considered a second home during the week of April Fair, and business owners try to strive to give their best to add a touch of personality and distinction specific to each family.
In terms of size there are various types of casetas (small, medium and large) Although from the more than 1,000 existing casetas, the most abundant are small ones in which physical space is separated into 2 areas, the stable area where the horses are kept. There is also an area for the bar, kitchen, toilets and also a tablao area used for dancing the typical Sevillanas dance.
What NH hotel would you recommend to tourists to enjoy the April Fair?
Really any of the NH Hoteles in the city are very well located. The NH Plaza de Armas has superb location next to the river Guadalquivir River.
The NH Viapol and NH Central Convention are the shortest distance from all the action. Just 10 minutes walking for the fairgrounds and also close to monumental areas of the extraordinary city such as Parque de Mª Luisa and the Plaza de España. Finally, the Hesperia Sevilla is also a must because it’s the only one which has its own caseta.
Would you like to continue the tradition with your children and grandchildren?
Of course, for us it’s a tradition to be proud of and therefore we do everything possible to continue the festivities year after year. Whatever we can do to continue such a cheerful and positive tradition in the city is always welcome.
Photo Credit: Rafael Gomez-http://micamara.es/