Thursday, February 16, 2017

Planning a Trip to Seville during the Spring Festivities (PT. 2 of 2)

Everyone thinks about bull fights and flamenco dresses when they think about Spain, and Seville during Feria resembles just that. Unlike Semana Santa, which is somewhat a somber festivity, Feria is an alegre (happy), bright, and fun festival pretty every Sevillano looks forward to each spring. Feria, which is celebrated on the Triana area of Seville called "Los Remedios," begins two weeks after the end of Semana Santa.
The feria week starts on Monday night, also known as la Noche del Pescaito or el Alumbrado (or alumrao if you wanna say it in a sevillano accent), where the feria grounds light up and members of caseta have dinner and dance the night away. Families typically eat fried fish and manzanilla on this night and don't usually wear flamenco dresses but instead dress up in their best outfits. 

What can I do on La Noche del Alumbrado as a tourist? Although most Sevillanos can be found in the casetas having a formal dinner with family and friends, tourists can have a taste of the feria experience by standing outside of the portal waiting for midnight for the lighting ceremony. 

What are Casetas? Am I allowed in? Casetas in Seville are owned and hosted by clubs, organizations, families, and/or businesses. Except for ones affiliated with political parties, most casetas are private, which means only those who are members and invited are allowed to go in. Casetas, depending on who owns them or what organization it belongs to, come in all different shapes and sizes and offer the classic food served in feria- including jamón, spanish tortilla, fried fish, and plenty of manzanilla to flow around. Although the public casetas are completely open to anyone wanting to go in, getting into private ones as a tourist is a little more complicated since you would need to get an invitation from a member of the caseta. 

Am I allowed into the Fair Grounds in Los Remedios? What's it like? Yes, everyone is allowed to go into the Fair grounds- if you're in Seville during this time, I would highly recommend going there and checking it out. It's a pretty beautiful scene- women dressed in beautiful flamenco dresses, men in their swankiest suits, and carriages carrying groups of friends or families to and from Feria. Also, the street called Calle del Infierno is a mini attraction park with somewhat questionable roller coasters and a super fast-spinning ferris wheel....what more could you want after a few rebujitos? 

What is a rebujito? Rebujitos might be the best (or worst) part Feria- it's mixed sherry wine, manzanilla, with 7UP or Spirte. They sell this everywhere on the fair grounds and I kid you not, you can literally buy a liter worth of rebujito (been there, done that), which will have you thinking you’re a professional flamenco dancer. Be careful, this spritzer taste like juice but it definitely can be deadly, especially on hot spring feria days! 

Where can I purchase a Flamenco dress? This was the topic of conversation when I was studying abroad. For my first year in feria, Carlos’ family was nice enough to lend me a dress which I wore on the Tuesday of Feria, one of the most popular day to dress up. Depending on how much cash you want to drop, a feria dress can range from 50 euros at the flee market to over 1000 euros for a designer one. Last year I decided to go ahead and buy one of my own and ended up spending 250 bucks on a beautiful red dress at the Corte Inglés. I found it to be quite reasonable, since it was new, good quality, and the style was up to date. For those who are looking for a cheap deal, I recommend going to either El Mercadillo de los Jueves on Calle Feria or El Mercadillo del Duque de Magdalena, where they have dresses ranging from 20-70 euros. 

How can I get into a private caseta? Like mentioned before, private casetas are by invitation only, so unless you're invited, I would strongly discourage bribing to the bouncer to get in. Also, if you know someone who can possibly get you in and your close enough to them to ask, don't get mad or bitter if they say no. It's most likely that the person who does have connection is too far down the "connection line" to invite others. I know, it's annoyingly exclusive in a way, but there are other ferias in Andalusia like Jerez and Córdoba where casetas are all entirely public and for everyone to enjoy. 

Bottomline, should I go to Seville during Feria? If you have the option of going this week, I would say yes. If you're not expecting to have the same experience that locals have and just want to see a huge part of the sevillano culture, definitely go. Unlike Semana Santa, feria is celebrated outside of the old historic center in an area that is exclusively used just for that, so you won't have to worry about the streets in the center being closed off. The center is a little more empty during this time but you can still do touristy things like going to la Catedral, have tapas, and of course, see people dressed up for feria. I actually had tourists come up to me in La Plaza de España asking me to take pictures with them which was hilarious! It's all about how you view your time in Seville and whether or not you personally think going during feria is worth it. 

Have you been to Seville during feria as a tourist? What was your experience like? 

PS- See part one of this post series here!

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