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The best feria in Spain?

If you are a dyed-in-wool Sevillano, meaning nothing more than you had the alleged good fortune to be born in the city, you will of course not need convincing that the April Feria is the best in Spain. What started as a cattle fair in 1847, with 19 ‘casetas’ that were really nothing more than bars, is now a monstrous township of more than a thousand.

There are several reasons why you should not go there. The first is that you need to dress up. Women should wear a flamenco dress (traje de gitana), and for men traje corto or traje de caballista, otherwise they will have to sweat it out in a suit and tie. You must also love horses. This is the main form of transport, and it is normal for a horse carriage to arrive at wherever you’re staying to transport you to the feria ground. Once there you will witness what is possibly the greatest display of horseflesh outside the Newmarket sales.

And don’t think you will be able to just walk into any caseta as you may do in the other great ferias of Andalucía like Jerez, El Puerto, Córdoba, etc. No, in Sevilla nearly all the ‘little houses’ are considered as extensions of a person’s home and you only invite your friends to your home. In fact don’t even bother going to the Feria unless you have a few invitations to private casetas tucked away in your pocket, otherwise you will be wandering around like a lost dog.

Nor is the food that great either, even in the casetas, or certainly not worthy of the greatest feria in Spain. The usual jamón, tortilla, croquetas, cheese, gambas from Huelva, gazpacho, stews of the day, etc. In fact nothing to set the gastronomic routine apart from any small Spanish town at midday. Ask for a typical Seville dish and you get a blank stare. There is no such thing.

And having got there, you will need to get back to your home or hotel later. This is the hardest part. The taxi drivers ensure that they control the streets and literally incinerate any competition, as they did this year, and the municipal buses slide by all night showing ‘Completo’ signs.