In Spanish the word actually means year market and fun fair, but nowadays it is THE large local feast in Spanish towns, which is celebrated each year on a certain day or in a certain period. It mostly used to be the year market that has grown into a large festival, often celebrating the patron saint of the town or city.
The most glorious feria is that of Sevilla (Andalucía), but in fact each feria is a lot of fun. In a village, the feria will normally last for a day, but in the larger cities, the festivities will go on for more than a week, during which it's party time 24 hours a day.
A typical feria has three stages:
- a parade of girls in gypsy dresses and horsemen in traditional costumes
- a fair
- a festival terrain where all possible societies, clubs, political parties and other circles have their own little houses (casetas). In the early days, only members were welcome to drink some wine and watch dancing contests, but now these societies are much more open.
Apart from these stages, ferias often also include Solemn Masses and matches in all kinds of sports and other game events. If there is a Plaza de Toros in town, the highlight of the bullfighting season is commonly celebrated during the feria as well.
The feria of Sevilla has been celebrated in April for over one and a half century. It was born from a cattle market where buyers and sellers set up their tents and the women accompanied the men to see if they would behave themselves. This market developed into a little temporary city of tent houses, eventually becoming a feria to the fullest extent, as described above.