Seville’s famous Feria de Abril has come and gone for another year but in case you missed it here are three more upcoming fairs that you can visit from Seville.
Puerto de Santa Maria
Puerto de Santa Maria’s Spring Fair and Festival of Fine Wine got under way yesterday (24 April) and finishes on Monday. This cosy coastal town is at one corner of Andalucia’s “Sherry Triangle”, and although this is a relatively small and local fair, it incorporates a festival to celebrate the first fruits of the new year, as well as the usual horses and carriages, casetas and a funfair.
The Jerez Horse Fair (Feria del Caballo) takes place in the Parque González Hontoria between 6 May and 12 May 2013. Of all the fairs, Jerez has maintained most closely the atmosphere of a “horse fair”, so if you’re really into horses this is the one for you. It’s also a very open fair – almost all the casetas are public, rather than private as they are in Seville, and because it’s in a park, rather than a “fairground”, it’s also surprisingly pretty. There’s a short bullfighting festival from the 9th to 11th, horse shows, a funfair for the kids, and as you would expect, plenty of sherry for the grown-ups.
The Feria de Córdoba runs from May 25 to June 1 on the municipal fairground, near the river to the east of the Mezquita. There is all the usual things to do, with horses and carriages by day, a funfair and impromptu Sevillanas. Although most of the casetas are privately owned the public are allowed in, so it’s less cliquey and exclusive than the Seville fair, and so more fun for visitors. And the larger casetas even have air-conditioning!
All three fairs are easy and comfortable to get to as a day trip by train, but if you want to watch the opening and closing firework displays, or sample the night life into the wee hours of the morning, you’ll need an overnight stay.
“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.” Ernest Hemingway Death in the Afternoon 1932
After flamenco, watching a bullfight is seen as one of the top priorities for getting in touch with the local culture of Spain, and although it’s perhaps less central than it was even 50 years ago, in the south bullfighting is still both popular and big business, as well as a source of many iconic images. So whether you regard it as an inhumane bloodsport or a form of art, like Hemingway did, there remains a fascination with the matador standing alone in the ring in the glare of the late afternoon sun with his cape and sword, pitting his skill against the brute strength of the bull.
Official poster for 2013 featuring famed Sevillano matador Juan Belmonte
Seville’s bullring (La Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla) is located next to the river in the Arenal neighbourhood. It’s the oldest in Spain, the first corrida having been held there in 1765, and the original model on which most later bullrings were based, with its carpet of yellow sand (albero) and circular tiered seating rising to an arched colonnade that protects the most expensive seats from the sun. When there are no bullfights you can still visit the arena and the bullfighting museum and experience its unique atmosphere for yourself.
The main bullfighting season is in April, during the Spring Fair. This year the daily corridas (the standard bullfight) run from April 10 to April 22, followed by a season of novilladas (fights featuring young bulls and novice bullfighters) on Sundays during May. There is also a short season in late September, during the Feria de San Miguel. Prices depend on the type of bullfight and on where you’re sitting relative to the arena and the sun (sol, sombra, or sol y sombra) and for corridas start from 13 euros (if you don’t mind sitting with the sun in your eyes) and go up to 155 euros ‘face value’ for the best seats.
For a great view of the bullring from across the river, stay in one of our apartments on Calle Betis.