One week after the Feria de Abril in Seville, Jerez holds its spring festival, the Feria del Caballo. Though often overlooked in favour of its more famous Sevillano counterpart, this centuries-old celebration has a charm all of its own. Read on for why you should opt for the Feria del Caballo rather than the Feria de Abril if you’re visiting Andalusia in spring.
Andalusian horses are one of the finest equestrian breeds in the world and are the centrepiece of the annual feria of Jerez (it is called the ‘Feria del Caballo’, or ‘Horse Fair’). They have always been at the heart of this week-long celebration, the history of which stretches back some 700 years. During the reign of Alfonso X ‘El Sabio’ (‘The Wise’) in the latter half of the 13th century, farmers would come to the fair to trade livestock, in particular horses, with local sherry and wine producers setting up little stands from which to lubricate their trading. Nowadays, riders parade up and down the fairground in Jerez showing off these magnificent animals, stopping off at the various refreshment marquees – casetas – for a glass of sherry-on-horseback. This is the most distinctive and charming sight of a feria that is often overlooked in favour of the more famous annual blowout in Seville, the Feria de Abril.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Indeed, Seville’s Feria de Abril – held precisely two weeks after Easter every year – is Andalusia’s biggest feria and now consists of around 1,000 casetas. Undeniably beautiful and fun as this celebration is, the fact that the majority of these party marquees require a personal invitation for entry can make the Feria de Abril difficult for the casual visitor to penetrate. In Jerez, on the other hand, inclusivity is part of the Feria del Caballo’s identity: it was only in 1903 – when the fair moved to its present location – that individuals and organisations were allowed to set up private casetas for its duration. Yet exclusive marquees never really caught on in Jerez, and today all the castetas are open to anyone who wants to drink and dance, creating an openness that distinguishes the Feria del Caballo from the somewhat snobbish Feria de Abril.
Along with horses, the other cultural emblem of Jerez is sherry – in particular the world-famous Tio Pepe – which is made from the white Palomino grapes grown just outside the city. These fruits are used to produce light, dry sherries such as Manzanilla and Fino as well as darker and more sweet variants such as Oloroso, and their fecundity is celebrated every autumn during Vendimia, Jerez’s grape harvest festival. Both the Vendimia and the Feria del Caballo are fuelled with an ample supply of this locally-produced tipple, the Manzanilla version of which is blended with 7Up to make the fairs’ signature drink, rebujito. A light, refreshing cocktail served over ice and garnished with fresh mint, rebujito is the perfect accompaniment to caseta-hopping in temperatures that are normally around 25 degreees celsius in early May.
If you need a break from the partying at the Feria del Caballo, take some time out to explore one of the most elegant cities in southern Spain. It’s always risky claiming that one great Andalusian city is more attractive than another, especially when one half of the comparison is Seville; but Jerez’s underdog status in the region means that its stately beauty comes as a wonderful surprise, and can be enjoyed in a far less crowded atmosphere than in the Andalusian capital. Catch an equestrian ballet at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and take a tour around the cellars of Tio Pepe or Gonzalez Byass, Jerez’s two most famous sherry makers, to immerse yourself in all that’s great about this lovely city.
One of the most conspicuous aspects of the Feria del Caballo is how smart everyone looks. Mounted party-goers (of both sexes) wear the traditional riding costume of dark blue trousers and jackets and the distinctive broad-rimmed hats that look like flattened out bowlers. Women who prefer to attend on foot rather than on horseback wear the beautiful flamenco dresses – trajes gitanas, ‘gypsy dresses’ – which transform caseta dancefloors into impressionists’ canvases during the feria’s energetic dancing. Indeed, the joyful, rebujito-fuelled dancing is a spectacle that can be enjoyed (and participated in) in Seville too – but the sight of elegantly-attired riders pulled up outside the marquees, enjoying a sherry on their saddles as colourful mayhem unfolds before them, is distinctive of the Feria del Caballo.
As soon as you set foot on the recinto ferial (the sanded fairground on which the casetas are located) during Seville’s Feria de April, you’re left in no doubt that it’s southern Spain’s biggest fair. The fairground is a mini-city of casetas, which line streets that can be just as crowded as those in the Andalusian capital’s centre. During the Feria del Caballo, on the other hand, you can wander from marquee to marquee on wide boulevards of bright yellow sand, with enormous palm trees swaying gently above you and the fair’s equine stars trotting past bearing finely-dressed riders. The ample amount of space means the recinto in Jerez is less crowded than Seville’s, and the colours – green palm trees, clear blue sky, yellow sand, multi-coloured flamenco dresses and jet-black horses – are simply wonderful.
Go somewhere different
Every adventurer loves the feeling of exploring somewhere off the tourist carousel, immersing themselves in a place overlooked in favour of more famous and familiar locations. Attending the Feria del Caballo in Jerez gives you that experience, because the majority of visitors to Andalusia in the spring head to the the region’s capital for the Feria de Abril. As a result, you hear few foreign tongues as you wander among the colourful, noisy casetas at the Horse Fair – a truly local feria celebrated with all the joy, energy and warmth for which southern Spain is known and loved throughout the world.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.