Sevilla Feria 2016

feria sevilla 2016 (1)

Some scenes from the Feria de Abril in Sevilla. The portada this year was a “Homage to Dance” and the winning design, by Eduardo Morón Espinosa, was inspired by the Argentinian Pavilion for the 1929 Spanish American Exhibition, now the Antonio Ruiz Soler Conservatory of Professional Dance.

I was invited to have lunch one afternoon at the private (and massive) City Hall caseta, so I went along with my friend and colleague Aldara Arias de Saavedra from We Love Tapas and we were shown a fabulous time by Diego Torres, editor of Sevilla Selecta magazine, who was in charge of coordinating all the food for the event. Afterwards we took a stroll around the grounds. It was a lovely sunny afternoon but heavy rains earlier in the week had taken its toll and the thousands of colourful paper lanterns that typically cover the lights had literally been washed away. There are rumours that next year the feria may start on Saturday (instead of the traditional Monday at midnight opening) and last for ten days. We shall see…

feria sevilla 2016 (4)arriving at the feria

feria sevilla 2016 (6)flamenco in the Ayuntamiento caseta

feria sevilla 2016 (9)cold manzanilla served in a chilled metal teapot

feria sevilla 2016 (10)this year’s spring fiestas poster

feria sevilla 2016 (8)Andalusian products

feria sevilla 2016 (7)Inés Rosales for dessert

feria sevilla 2016 (22)Aldara

feria sevilla 2016 (5)Diego and Aldara

feria sevilla 2016 (19)lovely head scarf on this lovely amazona

feria sevilla 2016 (18)chatting each other up

feria sevilla 2016 (23)We Love Tapas chicas Ania and Aldara

feria sevilla 2016 (15)washed away paper lanterns

feria sevilla 2016 (24)feria shoes…

feria sevilla 2016 (29)kids playing outside a caseta

feria sevilla 2016 (17)two young girls singing sevillanas

feria sevilla 2016 (21)beautiful colours

feria sevilla 2016 (14)horse whisperer

feria sevilla 2016 (13)carriage ride

feria sevilla 2016 (12)hombres

feria sevilla 2016 (11)taking a break

feria sevilla 2016 (28)big and little

feria sevilla 2016 (27)amazona

feria sevilla 2016 (26)chicas!

feria sevilla 2016 (20)inside a public caseta

feria sevilla 2016 (16)late afternoon shadows

feria sevilla 2016 (25)the wheel – would’ve gone up but it was way too speedy

Feria de Abril Sevilla

Feria Portada 2016

portada 2016
La Feria de Abril, or April Fair, is Sevilla’s annual party to welcome the spring. This year it runs from April 12 to 17 (the alumbrao, or switching on of the lights, is at midnight on April 11), and for a week the fairground will be abuzz with people, horses and carriages, and the sound of flamenco.

Entrance to the fairground is through a specially constructed gateway, called the Portada, which is rebuilt every year with a different theme. This year’s theme is “Homage to Dance” and the winning design, by Eduardo Morón Espinosa, was inspired by the Argentinian Pavilion for the 1929 Spanish American Exhibition, which is now the Antonio Ruiz Soler Conservatory of Professional Dance, and can be found in the Paseo de las Delicias.

The design also includes two commemorative plaques, one to each side of the central gateway. To the left is one for the 4th centenary of the death of Miguel Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote. To the right is celebrated the 750th anniversary of the parish church of Santa Ana in Triana.

Feria de Abril 2016
April 12 – 17

Pre-Feria at Taberna del Alabardero

pre feria 2016

If you can’t wait for the Feria de Abril to start (this year it runs from the 12-17th) you can whet your appetite at Taberna del Alabardero, which is hosting is first ever Pre-Feria event. The gorgeous Salón del Magnolio has been decked out with colourful paper lanterns and banners and will be offering feria-style lunches (13.00 – 16.30) and dinners (20.00 – 23.30) until next Sunday the 10th. There will be live music and typical feria food (tortillas, fried fish, Ibérico meats) will be freshly made-to-order in the “caseta’s” pop-up kitchen, which will also be preparing various paellas during mealtimes. To encourage a proper feria “ambiente” a dinner for two will be awarded to one of the couples that come dressed in vestido de gitana and traje corte.

pre feria

Pre-Feria en el Magnolio
April 6 – 10
Taberna del Alabardero
Zaragoza 20
Tel. 954 50 27 21

Velá de Santa Ana 2015

vela-triana-2015Triana’s biggest annual street party – the Velá de Santiago y Santa Ana – will be held next week July 21st – 26th with dozens of activities and concerts planned.

Dating from the thirteenth century, the Velá is celebrated every year in late July and Sevillianos flock to the “other side” of the river to enjoy this traditional week-long summer festival.

Plaza Altozano and the surrounding streets are at the center of the fiesta, particularly Betis street, where there are food and craft booths and a small fun fair for children. It’s a great place to stroll, have a beer or a glass of fino with some “pescaito frito” and sample the traditional green hazelnuts.

A Day at the Fair

feria 2015 (1)portada

feria 2015 (10)bubbles

feria 2015 (9)striking a pose

feria 2015 (6)elegant amazonas

feria 2015 (5)amazonas sharing lipstick

feria 2015 (4)thirsty work being an amazona

feria 2015 (3)mutual respect

feria 2015 (8)standing having a cold beer (while others had VIP seating)

feria 2015 (7)deceptively benign looking ride

feria 2015 (2)la noria

photos from my azahar Instagram account

It’s Sevilla’s Biggest Party…

feria 2015 (1)… and you’re not invited.  😉

Okay, not quite. You are very welcome to go to the Feria but unless you know someone with a caseta (the little stripy marquees) then you will end up crushed into one of the 19 large public ones. With over 1,000 private casetas that’s a lot of exclusion, which seems not very in keeping with what is meant to be a festive local event. Sound like sour grapes? Well, it isn’t. When I first moved to Sevilla over 22 years ago I found myself invited to Feria all the time, including the “noche del pescaíto“, followed by the “alumbrao” (lighting up of the gate and grounds at midnight on the Monday) and all-night partying. There would also be (private) lunches and long evenings going from (private) caseta to (private) caseta. I don’t know when it got tedious for me, but after a few years of this I would make my excuses when the invations came in, and limited my feria-going to one afternoon of taking photos of the splendid horses and colourful flamenco dresses.

feria 2015 (2)

This year I did something a bit different, which was to take in the “pre-feria” on the weekend before the official opening. To be honest, I didn’t know you could just walk in or that the casetas would be open for business. But I was there with a friend taking some photos of the portada and we saw people wandering in, so we did too. Many of the casetas were still having finishing touches done, but we saw several (private) ones full of people and then came across the large Distrito Casca Antiguo and, since it was open, decided to stop in for a beer. The calm before the storm.

feria 2015 (3)As I sit here writing this a few invitations to meet at the Feria have come in by email or text message.  And the other day I was even asked to do a radio interview about Feria (!!) which I turned down for obvious reasons (I don’t think it would have been the interview they were looking for). But you never know. I may end up popping over to people and horse watch for awhile. And before you write me off as a grumpy anti-feriante, I’ve already booked some time off to spend a couple of days at the feria in Jerez, where the casetas are open to everyone and the horses are especially beautiful. Just feels friendlier there somehow.

Feria de Abril
April 21 – 26th


Nazareno Nonsense

nazarenos de verdadHere are some nazarenos doing what nazarenos are supposed to do. Which is basically to don the robes of a penitent and, well, do penance. The number of nazarenos varies from brotherhood to brotherhood, sometimes they can be as many as 2000 or more, and a procession of that size, depending on where it starts from, can last up to 14 hours. That’s a lot of penance.

el silencioLast night I went out for the Madrugá to see my absolute favourite procession here, El Silencio. I’ve only seen it a few times in my 23 years in Sevilla, mostly because it runs from 1 to 6 am. A relatively short five hours, but also during the hours I am usually attempting to sleep. What I love about this procession is that, instead of a big marching band, the musical accompaniment for each paso is an oboe, clarinet and bassoon, which creates an eerily beautiful ambiance. The other thing I love is that the paso of the Virgin (Santa María de la Concepción) is all silver and white, and that her flowers are simple bouquets of orange blossom.

Anyhoodle, last night I actually got to watch her pass by twice, by deftly winding through back streets in the wee hours, and I felt that had been reason enough to haul myself out of bed at 4 am. But on the way home we literally ran into Los Gitanos – I turned a corner thinking the coast was clear and THERE THEY WERE…

los gitanosSeriously, I almost got run over by those guys leading the way, though I still managed a quick blurry pic before scrambling onto the pavement. So we decided to stick around and at least watch the Jesús de la Salud pass by, especially as we were standing on the edge of the pavement and got a really good close-up view.

el senor los gitanosWhile waiting for the Christ paso to arrive the temperature took a sudden nose-dive and so once it had passed we decided to make our way home, and as luck would have it, this meant we walked straight into the Los Gitano virgin, Santa María de las Angustias Coronada, passing below the Setas.

virgen los gitanos

But on our way there we had passed behind the Encarnación Market and I was surprised to see it all lit up inside (this was 6.30 am) and also that a length of paper had been put up along the windows, almost but not quite blocking a view inside. What I could see were lots of feet and long robes, so of course my interest was piqued. And then I saw a spot where the paper had been torn away, so I had a look and there were a lot – and I mean a LOT – of very tired looking nazarenos and “centurians” taking a rest, eating and drinking (whether breakfast or something else I don’t know) and so I snapped a pic of a group of rather interesting looking guys standing at the market bar. And I put it up on my Instagram with the rest of my photos taken that night.

Well, suddenly my @azaharSevilla Twitter account started pinging like mad, with people either RTing or otherwise mentioning me. And it turned out it was all about this photo of some nazarenos having a break. Some people thought it was a disturbing sight, others called it Dantesque (huh?) and other criticized me for having uploaded the photo, saying I was being imprudent and could be reported and even sued. Hell, for a brief while I was actually TRENDING on Twitter (a first, and no doubt a last). All over one photo of some guys relaxing at a bar. Which I am not going to post here again, but here is a different one of another group of nazarenos I spotted on my way home, clearly all tuckered out. I’m assuming this one is okay because nobody is taking any refreshment.

nazarenso tuckered outNow, I do understand the concept that while the penitent is still wearing the garb they should respect what it stands for and should probably not be seen in public swigging a cold one. As many pointed out on Twitter, what sort of penance is that? And well, okay. But, as I mentioned earlier, I wonder why some penitents get off easier than others, simply because of the numbers. While watching Los Gitanos (one of the biggies) I saw several nazarenos stagger over to a nearby bar, clearly exhausted, for a cold drink. Is it really such a big deal that they maintain their piety and anonymity to the point of possible dehydration? And what about bathroom breaks, especially for those processions that last for up to 14 hours? How much penance is enough for one night?

I took the photo of the guys inside the market as a curiosity, because it showed nazarenos as people, and out of their usual situation. I wasn’t trying to show them as doing something wrong – that hadn’t even occurred to me. In fact, some of my favourite photos of nazarenos are shots of random pointy-hooded penitents casually wandering up a street, walking with friends, having a ciggie break, whatever. So I really hadn’t expected the Twitter shitstorm that happened over my Instagram pic. All I can say is, it’s a good thing I didn’t post the one of the nazareno wearing earphones plugged into their mobile device…

Sevilla Feria 2014

feria sevilla 2014 (1)Looks like this is as close as I’m going to get to Feria this year. Slow-healing feet and ankles from my spectacular fall during Semana Santa has kept me less than mobile, including not being able to do all of my Sevilla Tapas Tours. But I did take out a tour last night and on the way home spotted the usual parked horses in the centre of town. It’s kind of a tradition that people trot over from the fair grounds and have tapas and drinks at Las Columnas in Barrio Santa Cruz – I used to live across the street and saw this every year. I also saw a group parked outside a bar in Cuesta del Rosario. Really it’s a long way to go just to show off, when you think about it…

feria sevilla 2014 (2)cold beer on a hot night… with horses

feria sevilla 2014 (3)parking Sevillano style

feria sevilla 2014 (4)

iPhone photos from my Instagram account