Oh, friends. There is SO much I want to tell you about the past ten days I spent in Spain. Rest assured, a full itinerary and recap is coming soon, but while it’s fresh on my mind I wanted to tell you all about one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced. The Seville Fair! Or as the locals call it, Fería de Abril. (Don’t you just love the sound of that?)
To be quite honest, I knew very little about Spain, much less Seville, before departing for this trip, and when I learned we would be in Seville for this festival, I didn’t give it much thought. A quick google image search revealed that people dressed in traditional flamenco gowns for the occasion, but in my head I pictured at most a couple hundred fair-goers drinking sangria in a little side street. White tents, a smattering of dresses, not much else.
Classy, I know.
And I could not have been more wrong.
The second my friends and I pulled into Seville in our taxi from the train station, it felt like we were in a different world. To start with, the buildings alone were utterly charming. Picture whites, yellows, narrow streets… it felt like a scene from a movie.
Then we saw it. A woman in full-on flamenco turning the corner with her three similarly dressed friends. Deep purple ruffles, a flower right on top of her head… it was a brief, magical moment, and one that took my breath away! I mean really, how many times do you see that around Dallas?
A few more minutes of driving revealed not only more and more fair-goers (we passed a little girl with her parents in this most darling polka-dotted ensemble complete with red lipstick) but that I had completely underestimated Fería de Abril. Little did I know it would be one of the most magical things I’ll ever experience!
My friends and I had planned our outing to the fair that evening, and I had decided one thing was for certain. I was going to go all out and would arrive in nothing less than a full flamenco ensemble. At this point, I can’t even tell you how many women we’d passed in these gorgeous getups! I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience something so culturally different from everything I’ve known, and wanted to make the most out of it.
So while the group stopped for a quick lunch, my friend Amanda and I darted off to the closest flamenco dress store we could find. Imagine a boutique about half the width of your every-day Starbucks establishment packed to the brim with gorgeous ruffles in every color imaginable. Floor to ceiling, it was a sight to be seen! We were on the clock, as we needed to make it back to our friends before they finished eating, so we grabbed three dresses in what I hoped would be my size and raced to the dressing room.
I didn’t even have to try on all three dresses… the first one I put on fit like a glove. Amanda and I were so giddily shocked! The stunning polka dot fabric, bell sleeve detailing and emoji-worthy skirt created a gown that felt like it had been made for me. I handed it over to the sales woman (who amusedly exclaimed “Muy rapido!” at my whirlwind of a decision) and in less than five minutes, was out of the store with my newest purchase.
Before I knew it, all five of us were on our way to the fair. (And yes… I was the only one dressed up, which made for a few comical pictures.) A 40 minute walk from our Airbnb brought us to the most amazing sight I’d ever seen.
Tents were lined up for what seemed like miles in every direction, each brimming with music, wine, flamenco outfits and dancing. My friends and I must have looked like zombies as we stumbled around with eyes full of wonder and mouths gaping open in surprise. We kept looking at each other and asking “How is this real?!”
I wish I could explain just how massive the fair was. While I had pictured a couple hundred people, the reality was that there were thousands all dressed up in festival attire. And I’m telling you… each woman was dressed to the nines. They all wore their hair in a low bun with a huge, gorgeous flower piece right on top of their head. (I’m sure I looked like a foreigner with my hair down and flower on the side of my head.) Their dresses were tailored to perfection, each completely unique in color and fabric but all with the fitted bodice and huge, ruffled hemline.
The men were a whole different story! While most in the tents wore suits, we watched hundreds riding down the streets on horseback in wide-brimmed hats. (Some women even sat sideways on the back of the horses! Magical!) And speaking of riding horseback down the streets…. that was the most chaotic thing I’ve ever seen. Carriages and horses all over the place with people darting all around. No traffic control, no “assigned horse area,” it was a definite every man for himself type of feel. (And looking back, my friends and I were shocked we made it around without getting trampled!)
Each of the tents held a private party, but after a bit of wandering and a few conversations with kind strangers, we found a public one. It was certainly not as glamorous as private parties, but it allowed us to get a feel for the event all the same. We had a fabulous time sipping sangria and watching the tent dance to amazingly synchronized flamenco songs! From older couples to young children, it seemed like everyone knew exactly how to move. It put Texas line-dancing to shame, I’ll tell you what.
While we were only at the fair for a few hours, it truly felt like a lifetime. I’ll never forget walking away in my swishy red flamenco dress to the sound of music and merriment behind me. Oh friends… such magic! And an evening I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Below you’ll find a few iPhone photos of the fair, and while they do no justice to the actual grandeur of it all, I hope they give you a feel for what I saw and experienced! I’m working on putting together a video from my time in Spain, and can’t wait for you to see the footage from the fair.
Thank you for walking down this magical memory lane with me! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!
Love from Texas,