Springtime in Andalusia is rife with festivals, known as ferias or fiestas locales. Often happening in the spring and summer, Seville’s renowned Feria de Sevilla or the Feria de Abril kicks off a never-ending stream of local spring fairs in Spain.
Though the fairs each have their own vibe, there are overarching similarities: all started as livestock fairs, some stretching back to medieval times, entrepreneurial-minded vendors began erecting tents to provide food and drink, as well as shade, for traders. These ferias de ganado morphed into all-out parties and are some of the most beloved spring festivals in Spain.
Attendees eat typical fare from the region and drink beer and sherry, often mixed with 7Up as a refreshing spritzer called rebujito in striped marquees known as casetas. Flamenco music, called sevillanas, with its four-part accompanying dance, fills the air and horses and carriage choke the streets during the daytime hours; bullfights and carnival rides are alternative forms of entertainment for some.
Though Seville’s is the first and largest, it’s also the most exclusive. Over 90% of the tents are privately owned and require an invitation, but other local fairs boast inclusion with just as much character. Here are alternatives to the Seville fair to celebrate Andalusian culture.
Feria del Caballo - Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz)
Celebrating horses and sherry wine - the city’s most famous exports - the Horse Festival of Jerez de la Frontera is a local’s favorite. Colorful, festive and more importantly accessible to the general public, the fete (typically) happens one week after Seville’s April Fair’s lights have been shut off. All of the parts of the Seville fair that make it so exclusive disappear in Jerez, as local businesses and organizations open the casetas to the general public and it’s on a smaller scale. You’ll still get the local feria feel with the horse carriages, lights canopy, carnival rides and buckets of rebujito (a sherry and 7Up spritzer), so consider the hour train ride from Seville to hit this one.
If you’re not into the drinking and dancing, there’s also a horse auction and bullfights.
Feria del Caballo 2019 dates: May 11-18, 2019
Feria de Córdoba
May is a big month in Córdoba. Flowers abound from private patios, a popular fiesta known as Patios, and the Cruces de Mayo at the beginning of the month bring cordobeses to the streets. The festivities culminate in the Feria de Córdoba, which is held at the end of May to coincide with Our Lady of Health’s feast month. Characterized by its impressive portada (main gate) and wide avenues, the flamenco gets swapped out for dance music at night, giving the festival a completely different feel from some of the more traditional fairs.
Feria de Córdoba 2019 dates: May 25 - June 1, 2019
Feria de Privavera y Fiesta del Vino Fino, El Puerto de Santa Maria (Cádiz)
El Puerto, along with Jerez and Sanlúcar de Barrameda make up the sherry triangle, where palomino grapes are grown for sherry wines, also hosts a raucous spring festival. In fact, the full name is a nod to vino fino, the dry sherry popular in this seaside city and whose grapes begin to blossom at this time of year. The city also welcome big-name bullfighters during this week and has a fairgrounds full of tents, music and lights.
Feria de El Puerto 2019 dates: May 29 - June 3, 2019
Fiesta Colombinas (Huelva)
Huelva’s big party doesn’t have its roots in livestock markets, but rather commemorates the day that Columbus set sail for the Americas. Leaving from the shores of Palos de la Frontera on August 3, 1492, the Fiestas Colombinas are always held at the beginning of August. You’ll still find the typical hallmarks of an Andalusian feria, like the tents and dancing, but the local government also sponsors concerts and cultural programming, including parades and fireworks. Be sure to try typical seafood from the area, particularly a plate of gambas blancas washed down with sherry.
Fiestas Colombinas 2019 dates: July 30 - August 4, 2019
Feria de Málaga
Coinciding annually with the religious celebration of the Assumption of Mary and the 19th of August, the day that marked the first Feria de Málaga in 1491, this event is a popular attraction on the Costa del Sol that is as presumptiousous as it is casual, as local as it is international. Holidaymakers in sandals mingle with locals in typical garb, and the city fairgrounds are close to both the city center and the beach, where the daytime fair is celebrated. At night, the feria de noche lights up with dancing and carnival attractions.
Feria de Malaga 2019 dates: August 15-24, 2019
But the fun and the fino don’t stop there - virtually every town in Andalusia will celebrate a party or two in the summer, so check local tourism pages to see what’s on. The free guide below offers information on the most famous Andalusian ferias, as well as information on the customs, traditions, and clothes of each feria. As the old saying goes: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, so grab your fan and a glass of sherry and enjoy!