(Flamenco) Dress Envy in Sevilla: La Feria de Abril
The charade of Seville’s Feria is most likely the best people-watching I’ve ever done. Better yet, it’s a spectacle of BEAUTIFUL flamenco dresses. The official outfit of the festivities, I’d ballpark that 95% of guests are adorned with these glamorous duds.
In a nutshell, La Feria de Abril is a one week party that by day is a place for families: horse carriage rides, traditional events and a huge amusement park filled with rickety rides. By night, it’s the site for serious partying. Often times, party goers don’t arrive until midnight or later after an evening of drinking elsewhere in town.
For two solid hours I did nothing but take pictures and mumble comments to my male coworker about how beautiful all the flamenco dresses were (I’m quite sure he could’ve cared less). I had serious case of dress envy while I milled about in my preppy seersucker shorts and cotton tank. #tourist
The festival grounds consist of a huge grid of streets lined with hundreds of casetas, small invite-only covered rooms owned by prominent families, groups of friends, trade associations and political parties all wanting to show their guests a great time (and their wealth). Inside the casetas food is served, drinks are poured, art hangs on the walls, and flamenco bands play happily.
While I enviously peered in, I couldn’t help but be happy to witness the action. The history of La Feria de Abril dates back to 1847 when it was a simple livestock fair. Later, a handful of casetas helped transform the fair into what it is today. Unlike some public celebrations, this one is steeped in tradition, beyond just the clothing. Bull fighting, specialty foods and drinks and traditional flamenco dancing collaborate to make this a truly Andalusian event.
Aside from the brightly colored dresses, ruffles, jumbo earrings, tassels and heels, the ladies also adorn their hair with maravilla flowers. Maravilla flowers are any large colorful flower like a carnation, rose or hibiscus. The flowers are chosen specifically to match their flowing dresses or blouses, drawing attention to the face.
I wanted one of my own, badly.
Initially this picture was going to just be me and the two gals in the pink, but just like my friends and I, as soon as someone spotted a group shot, everyone jumped in.
After strolling around the caseta’s for awhile we popped over to the adjacent fair grounds. From everything I read, these rides are put together in a hurry so I wasn’t keen to partake but the setting sun sure added some nice light for pictures!
With the sunset at 9:30PM it was just about dinner time and our bellies were getting hungry. Many restaurants don’t even open until 9PM so I had to adapt my eating schedule a little lot on this trip. Strolling back into Sevilla’s historic city center, we grabbed dinner around 11PM and made our way home. That night I slept soundly as I dreamed of dancing flamenco dresses. Sigh.
Here’s the good news, if you don’t know anyone in Sevilla there’s multiple public casetas that are similarly filled with music and food. All you need is a flamenco dress and you’re on your way!
The schedule for the next few years, pencil it in!
April 21 – 26, 2015
April 12 – 17, 2016
May 2 – 7, 2017