La Puerta at La Feria de AbrilCredit: valerieviolet

          La Feria de Abril de Sevilla, or the April Fair in Sevilla (the capital of the Andalusia region of southern Spain) is an annual, wildly popular festival of family, food, and fun. What started as a livestock fair in 1847 quickly grew into the lavish, highly anticipated festival celebrated today. The fair is considered a way to recover from and relax after the intensity of Semana Santa (Holy Week leading up to Easter in Christianity). La Feria de Abril is held two weeks after Easter with activities spanning from noon through 7 am over six days.

          The days are welcomed with horse and carriage parades, called Paseo de Caballos, with highly decorated carriages toting influential locals, men and women clad in traditional Spanish garb, and anyone else who rents a horse and carriage that wants to participate (though it is quite expensive). There are many activities available for families during the day on Calle de Infierno, a street adjacent to the fairgrounds that, despite its name (meaning Hell's Street or Road from Hell), caters to attractions for children. Here you will find carnival games and rides and even cotton candy, much like a carnival in the US.

           After the daytime entertainment, festival-goers flock to the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, the oldest bullring in Spain, to witness a bullfight. Bullfighting is a glorified Spanish tradition rife with history, but note that witnessing one is not for the faint of heart.

          By 9 pm, the city is ready to party. La Feria de Abril fairgrounds are set up on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River. The entrance way to the fair is marked with an enormous gateway called the puerta, standing over 160 feet tall, covered in thousands of lights and built specifically each year for the event. With the puerta lit, the city pours into the numerous casetas (large, square,

Casetas at La Feria de Abril de SevillaCredit: valerievioletdecorated tents built for temporary use during the fair) that line the fairgrounds. Above the casetas, strings of thousands of lights are hung to illuminate the grounds at night. Casetas can belong to prominent families, political parties, clubs, associations, groups of friends, etc. Some of them are private and an invitation is needed to enter, but many are open to the public. Within each tent, crowds party to the sevillanas, a variation of flamenco music, through the night. Popular in southern Spain, Baile por Sevillanas is a flamenco-style dance in 6/8 time that accompanies the sevillanas and is danced by many throughout the festival. Food and drink are also served and shared within the casetas. Tapas and manzanilla wine (both indulgences native to Andalusia) will almost certainly be on the menu. There are also larger areas on the fairgrounds that serve food, where cured ham, lamb, sausage, and seafood can be found.Sevillanas DancingCredit: valerieviolet

          Many participants of La Feria de Abril dress traditionally for the festival, especially women, countless of which preferring to wear 'faralaes' or 'trajes de flamenca', traditional flamenco-style dresses. These dresses can be seen in an incredibly wide array of designs favoring bright, bold colors and patterns. Their brightness and energy directly reflect the loud, beautiful current of excitement and energy flowing through the streets of Sevilla during the fair. The brilliant colors of the fabrics and the sweet citrus scent of the orange trees that line the streets of Sevilla awaken the senses and never fail to make a visitor feel more alive.

          La Feria de Abril ends with a bang; a grandiose fireworks display concludes the week of partying and enthusiastically sends festival-goers off to await next year's fair.