The yearly Feria de Abril de Sevilla — April Fair of Seville — is celebrated roughly two weeks after the super-solemn Semana Santa (Holy Week) in the Andalusian city of Seville. In 2015 Easter Sunday, which puts paid to the Semana Santa, fell on 4 April. Sixteen days later, the weeklong feria, which ended on the 26th of the month, kicked off with the dramatic lighting of the 24,000 lightbulbs of the awesome portada (gate) of the fairgrounds.
The heady Feria de Abril, foil to the solemn Semana Santa, is easily the biggest of all the fairs and festivals in Andalusia and embodies Seville’s famed zest for fest. Full-blast parties go on at the fairgrounds and the far bank of the Guadalquivir River. Revelers get high on manzanilla and sevillanas (booze and dancing) and the sheer ambiance of the feria.
GUIDEPOST’s tells tales about the Feria.
Despite the tragedy of the death, the feria continued – as brilliant as the hot summer-like Sevillian sunshine
Sevilla had never looked gayer or more colorful than last Tuesday – the opening day of her annual Feria de Abril. But in the middle of the morning paseo [parade of riders on carriages], flames and an ugly black pall of smoke rose over the center of the fairground in Avenida de Carlos V. For the first time in the history of this traditional event, a serious fire broke out which threatened to destroy the 150 beautifully decorated casetas – or small pavilions. The fire, it seemed, started from a butane gas bottle in one of the casetas and the flames, whipped by a smart breeze, spread rapidly and frighteningly, destroying 67 casetas within ten minutes. The fire brigade, aided by army and air force troops, acted swiftly and with astonishing efficiency. The area of conflagration was promptly limited and in a short time everything was under control.
Fortunately, there were few casualties but among the 27 people injured, 85-year-old José García Suárez received burns from which he subsequently died. His funeral on Wednesday was attended by many high dignitaries. While the fire was still smoldering, Sevilla’s official fire chief stated that within 24 hours all the damage would be repaired. He was right and the next day there was hardly a sign of the damage. So despite the tragedy of the death, the feria continued – as brilliant as the hot summer-like Sevillian sunshine.
Jean also mentions the fire in her “Talk About Spain” column but went on from there to other aspects of the Feria, such as romance a la Andalucia and the glittering international set converging in Seville for the fair.
Madrid moved south this week for Sevilla’s Feria de Abril and, undeterred by Tuesday’s fire which burned some 70 casetas, succeeded in creating some pretty gay and colorful fireworks of their own. In the bar of the Alfonso XIII, the barreras de sombra in the Maestranza, in the palacios and casetas of Andalucía’s capital, we saw more celebrities this year than ever before.
Faithfully attending the bullfights each day, accompanied by his attractive wife and 8-year-old daughter BEATRICE, was dedicated cigar-chewing aficionado ORSON WELLES. His not-so-dedicated daughter said of her first introduction to bullfights, “I think it’s hideous and horrid.” Orson on the other hand told us, “I have been trying my hand as a picador at private tientas and hope to do some pic-ing in public sometime”. . . AVA GARDNER caused quite a stir in the barrera [the first row of seats surrounding the bullring] when she was present for the first big come-back fight of JAIME OSTOS (who thrilled the crowd by cutting two ears). Later, at the Alfonso XIII for the fashionable cocktail hour, she had all heads turning as she sipped cocktails in a yellow ankle-length dress. “Gold Boy” El Cordobes dedicated a bull to the much heralded GERALDINE CHAPLIN who moved into Sevilla society with no trouble at all. Of the sensation-causing matador she said, “ He is the most unassuming and charming person,” and this she backed up by spending one whole day in his company terminating in a romantic dancing date. Incidentally, rejoneador [bullfighter on horseback] and ganadero [rancher-stockbreeder] ANGEL PERALTA gave a magnificent party in her honor in his famous ranch attended by El Cordobes . . . Using his yacht The Black Swan as his riverside headquarters was charmer of the international set, millionaire playboy PORFIRIO RUBIROSA, with his French wife ODILE RODIN of the sculptor Rodin family. The Rubirosas threw many a champagne party from their mooring place below the Puente de Triana on Sevilla’s Guadalquivir River . . .
The list of lavish parties,and their glamorous hosts and guests, goes on and on in Jean’s column.
And as you will have caught on long before now, Sonia’s and Jean’s stories were written quite a while ago. On 1 May 1964 to be exact. That makes it 51 years ago.
Sonia Copeland now lives at her home in Tyler Hill, a lovely unspoiled dormitory village for the City of Canterbury and especially the nearby University of Kent. She’s been writing children’s books, among other activities in her busy life, the most recent being Crystal, the Small Miracle, about a caterpillar, and which her son, actor Orlando Bloom, has sponsored for the Butterfly Conservation which is trying to save endangered butterflies in the UK.
For more on Sonia, please go to
http://www.kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/orlandos-mum-launches-new-child-a72805/ and her own webpage (www.soniacopelandbloom.com).
Jean Allen has passed away last year in her native England. Please see our obit on her: http://www.guidepostdev.startseven.com/2014/11/obituary-jean-allen/
Featured image (gate of fairgrounds, 2015), dancing sevillanas, and night view of the Feria 2014 by http://zerezas-curiosidadesvarias.blogspot.com/ . Attribution permit
Caseta by Frobles (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Frobles) . CC BY-SA 3.0
Carriage by Lobillo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Lobillo , PD