Spanish ferias – Everything you need to know

Feria del Caballo - Jerez, Spain
Feria del Caballo – Jerez, Spain

In the previous article, we selected 3 Spanish ferias everyone should visit this year, but if you don’t yet know much about ferias in general, maybe read this first.

We decided to answer the most common questions, like “what is a feria?” or “why are ferias organized?”.

When you get these answers, you will 100% want to visit one. For inspiration on where to go, check the previous article, and read more about the largest ferias in Spain.

What is a feria?

A feria is a social, cultural, and industrial event that takes place in the open air. It usually has a previously determined date. It can be a festival, a carnival, but also a “farmer’s market-like” event, but with music, drinks and food.

Feria San Fermin
San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain

Spanish ferias are a very popular holiday concept and are heavily respected in Spain. Most Spanish cities have their local city ferias They are considered holidays, so people usually have free days at schools and jobs in the time of a feria.

A feria is a place to meet with people, celebrate and enjoy music, but also to sell handcrafts, promote local businesses, and sell agricultural products.

Why are Spanish ferias organized?

The main goals of a feria are:

  • supporting local business
  • the economic growth of a city or a region
  • touristic and cultural promotion of the region

Spanish ferias and fiestas

When we say traditional feria, we often imagine the typical Andalusian feria.

The whole country has all sorts of fiestas and events that have the same vibe and goals as ferias. But, in central and Northern Spain a feria can more often stand for a classical fair (as a book fair or job fair in a closed space) or a festival (like Las Fallas in Valencia).

Las Fallas is a carnival that includes the whole city, while typical Andalusian feria is held in a specific place like a market or an amusement park.

So, to break the confusion, we will refer to ferias here as events and fiestas in Spain that can be all the forms listed above.

Elements of an Andalusian feria

A typical Andalusian feria is held in the open-air ferial area with a lot of different elements.

Spanish feria in Andalusia
Spanish feria in Andalusia

Some of the distinctive elements of a feria in Spain are:

  • Big, colorful decoration with various lights and ornaments
  • Little stands of artisanal and handcrafted products
  • Stands of souvenirs, shirts, bags, etc. (like an on a flea market)
  • Casetas (tents decorated as rooms with food, drinks, and music)
  • An amusement park area
  • Traditional symbols of the region (horses in Andalusia, fallas in Valencia)
  • People wearing traditional clothes
  • Lots of people drinking and mingling around the ferial area

What does feria mean in Spanish?

In Spanish, feria can mean an open-air market with a determined date. It can also mean a fair – educational fair, fair of agriculture, fair held by companies, etc. It can also be referred to as a carnival, festival, amusement park, etc.

In conclusion, a feria in Spain represents an event with cultural, entertainment, and business elements. The goal and the type of feria will set the ferias spirit and direct the focus on one or two of these things.

Ferias in Spain

There are a hundred of ferias and fiestas held in Spain every year. The largest ferias in Spain have a huge tourist impact and bring hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Feria in Es Mercadal, Spain
Feria in Es Mercadal, Spain

Spanish ferias are not your typical fairs, nor a typical musical festival, more like a big celebration or carnival-like event that will spin your head around. To illustrate, when the fiesta is in the city, it becomes the most important thing for everybody.

Some of the best ferias in Spain don’t even have a character of what you would call a fair, but rather a festival. The largest ferias in Spain and the most popular ones are:

  • Semana Santa – the most important religious celebration
  • Las Fallas – a festival of fire and spring in Valencia
  • Feria de Abril – the best feria in Southern Spain, and the one you could take as an example of typical Spanish feria that we are talking about
  • San Fermin in Pamplona – a bull running event
  • Saint Joan’s day – Barcelona’s beach party for everybody

Spanish feria dresses

People often ask what traditional Spanish feria dresses are. The truth is that when they ask that question, they once again think of Andalusian ferias or Feria de Seville and typical Flamenco dresses.

Spanish feria dresses - Andalusia
Spanish feria dresses – Andalusia

However, Spain is a traditional country, and it likes to celebrate its customs, so we see the traditional clothing of different regions in events all over the country.

Flamenco dresses and suits

Flamenco dresses are typical to Southern Spain and they are what we often call a traditional Spanish dress. Even though Flamenco is native to Andalusia, it is practiced and respected throughout the whole country. In Andalusia, women wear these dresses to all kinds of celebrations, and it’s not unusual to see them dress up.

We can say that Flamenco dresses are traditional Spanish feria dresses because all the women dress in them when going to a feria in Andalusia.

A typical flamenco dress is a combination of three different cultures – Gypsy, Muslim, and Spanish. They are made from different materials, thus are vibrant and colorful. The bottom and the sleeves have big flounces.

The men wear typical suits that resemble bullfighters’ uniforms.

Clothes for San Fermin (running with bulls)

Feria San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain
Feria San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain

For this event in Pamplona, the typical dress code for men is a white shirt, with a pair of wide white pants and red shawls that go around the neck and waist. Since running with bulls is not popular amongst women, there this is not traditional clothing for them.

Vestido fallera (clothing for Las Fallas)

A typical dress for the festival of Las Fallas in Valencia consists of numerous elements, like princess dresses from centuries ago.

The interior clothes consist of a sleeveless shirt, a traditional corset-blouse (chambra), white stockings, traditional interior trousers (pololos), and an interior skirt that give volume.

The exterior part consists of a vest, a colorful skirt, a traditional doublet, and a decorative apron over the skirt, and a traditional lace cloak.

Accessories include earrings, peinatas, needle pins, and shawls. The shoes are made from the same material as the dress, so they would go together nicely.

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