Way to Go

Party Cities

by Pavia Rosati
Feria Photo by Ben Schott.
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Our heads have been in the clouds and at the beach. This week, we’re heading to cities in celebration mode:

  • Seville for Feria de Abril
  • Austin to feed on SXSW
  • Sydney for the lights and sounds of Vivid.

The Fairest of Them All

It’s one of the greatest parties in the world, and I bet you’ve never heard of it.

You’re not the only one. Until I was invited to attend last year, I didn’t know a thing about Feria de Abril, the spring festival that sees the gorgeous city of Seville explode into a giant, weeklong celebration of dancing, drinking, and horses.

What began as a three-day livestock fair (“feria”) in 1846 occurs one or two weeks after Easter — this year fromApril 14-20 — in several cities in Spain, primarily in Andalusia and most famously in Seville.
Feria begins and ends in an explosion of light, starting on Saturday at midnight with the alumbrao, when thousands of overhead string lights are switched on to the happy cheers of the crowds, and ending with los fuegos, a riot of fireworks the following Saturday, also at midnight.  

While the whole town gets in on the action, the main event is concentrated in Los Remedios, the neighborhood on the southern end of the city near Parque de los Príncipes, in a fairground-sized area that sits empty the rest of the year. The streets, four blocks by seven blocks named after famous bullfighters, are lined with more than a thousand casetas (“little houses”), most of them privately owned by families and organizations, a few open to the public, like Caseta del Turista.

Casetas have a similar style — red or green striped awnings and a marquee on the outside; tables, chairs, and dance floor within. Prizes are given to the best-looking caseta, and competition is fierce. It’s easy to peek into the casetas because they open onto the street, though entry is limited to invited guests who are there to eat pescaíto frito (fried fish), drink rebujito (manzanilla or fino and 7Up), sing along with the band, and dance the elaborately choreographed sevillana.

But this being Spain and the participants being Spanish, the eating, drinking, singing, and dancing aren’t confined to the casetas. The action spill onto the streets in a giant, rambunctious, infectious, day-into-night block party filled with people of all ages, from babies to great-grandparents. The crowd is mostly local, but as a visitor I felt totally welcome. I went to Feria three days in a row — twice as a caseta guest, once to soak up more of the atmosphere. I couldn’t get enough. (These photos will show you why.)

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We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.