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Spanish Traditions: Feria De Jerez

April 2016

Springtime in the south of Spain is festival season. The city of Seville is well-known for its joyous, flamenco-filled Feria de abril de Sevilla, or April Fair, where fair-goers feast and dance into the wee hours. But the city of Jerez de la Frontera, at the epicenter of Spain’s sherry-making region, has its own annual revelry— April and May’s Feria del Caballo, or Horse Fair.

Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that grow in the Jerez region— the same grapes at the heart of José Andrés’s Reserva Sherry Vinegar. But Jerez is so much more than sherry. The city is also renowned for its horse breeding and its riding school. The annual Horse Fair celebrates this tradition with a horse parade and a carnival, all situated among rows of casetas, which are temporary structures built on the fairground.

Unlike some other festivals, where many casetas are private, in Jerez all the casetas are open to the public, so anyone may go inside them to dance a raucous flamenco, or to sip sherries from local bodegas. Prepare to fall under this festival’s spell— and to party until the first train leaves Jerez the next morning.