Tips for surviving Feria Season

Feria at night

Feria is a feast for the eyes.  It is an explosion of colors, spring flowers, elegant horses, and beautiful dresses. The rainy season and somber Holy Week are over, and the days turn warm with cool nights. This is a great combination for fiesta.  The south of  Spain celebrates spring with 3 or 4 days, even one week long festival, called Feria. A marathon of dancing, eating and drinking, so like any marathons, you must prepare for it. Here are some tips to prepare for Feria. You will be glad you did.

Got to fit in one of these by April!

Before Feria:

1- Diet. Lets face it, winter was boring and we ate lots of Christmas sweets, all the way to January 6th! Yes you know turrones, polvorones, roscas de reyes, chocolates and all that sweet wine. If you are not buying a dress this season, then you should try on last years dress, some time in February. Probably a bit tight, huh? And Some of us, like to eat the Holy Week treats too, the Torrijas dipped in honey, and the oh so sweet, saints bones. OK, so at least two months before Feria, some time around February, you must start exercising and eating right, because Feria begins as early as the end of April. Do this, and you will still have time to shed those extra pounds and fit in your dress.

2 - Learn to dance. Take sevillana lessons. Don’t want to discourage you, but it takes about three to four months to get the moves, so I recommend an early start. It will also help you shed those unwanted pounds and you will build stamina for the real thing. Bottom line, you will really enjoy Feria.

Learn how to dance. A must to fully enjoy feria

3- Follow SIMOF. Feria is fashionable and there are trends, so follow the fashion shows in late January, early February, We Love Flamenco and SIMOF or Salon Internacional de la MOda Flamenca, are two of the most famous catwalks. Here you will find all the new trends and styles you are looking for in a new Feria dress.

4- Buy a dress soon, or update your current dress. The seamstresses have tons of dresses to make and fix. Sometimes they can take up to a month to fix your dress, so take it early. Let me underline that feria dresses are supposed to be tight, no buts, no excuses, a tight dress is better, it is the style and it actually distributes the weight of the dress all over your body and not just carry it on your shoulders.  So fit it like a glove.

5- Buy accessories. Now that you know the color of your dress, buy flowers, combs, earrings, necklaces, pins and shawl, mantoncillo, to wear with your new dress. I buy extra earrings and flowers, just in case I loose them while dancing.

You can match all your accessories or go wild.
The possibilities are endless

6 - Shoes, consider what shoes you are going to wear with your dress. Shoes should be comfortable, but should also complete the look. Please no flip-flops, sneakers or crocks! Yes, unfortunately I’ve seen them in Feria. I have also seen sky high heels, impossible to walk with, but hey, she looks great. My feet hurt  most of the time (I guess I'm not 20 anymore), but I still want to look descent, so I save my old flamenco shoes and wear those. Sandals and opened toe shoes are not recommended, most Feria grounds have dirt floors, and the sand will act as sandpaper on your feet, just a warning.

7- Think about your hair, it is traditional to wear it up, in a low bun, so practice, practice, practice. If wearing a peineta (comb), practice where you will place it and how you will wear your flower(s). Buy lots of hair pins. Once again, check SIMOF internet images for hair styles and flower placement. 

8 -Practice your make-up, those cat eyes take a little practice, as well as fake eyelashes, if you wear them.

Don't leave home without makeup! This was the last day of feria, 
I was too tired to dress for the occasion. Then I ran into these beauties!
I should at least have used eye liner! :-(

8- Prepare for allergies. If you have mild asthma or seasonal allergies, prepare in advanced your medicines and treatment. You will be glad you did. Feria has horses, lots of dirt and dust, and it is springtime, there is pollen everywhere!
Prepare your camera. You will take tons of photos, make sure you have tons of memory, battery life, flash, etc.

9- Get a manicure. Well groomed hands are important, even if you don't wear polish.

10- Invite friends, go to feria together, it is more fun this way.

So many photo opportunities for you
 and your friends. don't forget your camera
 or you will regret it. 

Everything is more fun when you dance

During Feria:

1- Become familiar with your surroundings. Many ferias have maps of the grounds and the name and location of the “casetas” or tents. That way if someone tells you to meet at such and such caseta, you know where it is. Also it is a good idea to locate the restrooms in advanced. Now with smart phones there are apps where you can download the feria maps and daily events related to Feria.

2- Get a poster, if you haven’t already, some info booths give you a free poster of feria. However you have to carry it around. You can also get it at the tourism office usually downtown.

3- Walk around feria, it is all about seeing and being seen. Check out the casetas with the best music, or the best food and prices.

4- Feria for Children, if you have children, take them to the rides. The call it the street of Hell, you’ll find out why soon enough. I used to take my kids to the bumper cars and fish the duck, which always included a price. Then with price in hand, I returned to the adult side of feria.

5- Make a “vaquita”, a kitty/purse with your friends, you spend less money this way. People put in the vaquita, say €20 a person and someone administers the Feria fund for drinks and food. When it runs out, you add more money.

6- Stay hydrated. Drink as much water as you can. You won’t believe the amount of dirt floating in the air and into your mouth. Drink responsibly, the drink of choice in feria is Rebujito which is fino or manzanilla wine, with lemon soda and with lots of ice. It is cheaper by the pitcher and reduces the alcohol concentration. 

Oh my! Look at this dress.

Rota with friends

Friends at El Puerto de Santa Maria Feria

7- Use public transportation. You will finds lots of taxis and buses at designated areas of your town specifically for feria. It is a treat to sit in a bus full of ladies all dressed in feria dresses. Transportation is usually not a problem, except when everyone decides to leave feria at once, then you will have very long lines for cabs and buses.

Take the bus, don't worry about parking or drinking.

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