JEREZ FAIR. PAST AND PRESENT OF THE HORSE FAIR.
The Jerez Fair is one of this city’s largest international tourist attractions, and not surprisingly an International Tourist Interest Festival. The Horse Fair offers visitors the chance to enjoy the best locals wines, the bewitching spectacle of flamenco, the amazing and beautiful parade of horses and the abundant joy that transforms Jerez during this festival, leaving them with the clear impression of the uniqueness of this impressive city and its enormous tourist attraction. But this festival’s main protagonist is the horses, since they are the central feature of the Jerez Horse Fair, one of the most representative tourist festivals in Jerez de la Frontera.
During the Jerez Horse Fair, the Real, or fair grounds, is the central hub of the festival. It is located at González Hontoria Park. Locals and the many visitors experience the festival at its booths from midday until almost sunset. You will see the most beautiful Andalusian horses in the Horse and Carriage Parade, an unbeatable show of elegance, grace and majesty that is admired by all who watch it.
Curiosities about the Jerez Horse Fair
- The fair has been held since 1284, making it one of the oldest fairs in Spain.
- One of the most popular traditions during the fair is the “alumbrao”, when all the lights of the fair are turned on at once, marking the official start of the celebration.
- The fair is called the “Horse Fair” because it was originally created as an equestrian livestock fair. Nowadays, the fair has expanded and is celebrated in honor of wine, gastronomy, and the culture of the region.
- The Jerez Horse Fair is known for its festive and cheerful atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy music, dance, and local cuisine in the numerous booths that are built in the fairground.
- During the fair, a horse competition called “Paseo de Caballos” is held. It is a parade in which riders and their horses parade through the fairground and is one of the most popular events of the fair.
- The fair is also known for its fino and sherry wine, which are wines produced in the region. Many booths offer tastings of these wines during the fair. It is estimated that over 100,000 bottles of fino wine are consumed during the week-long celebration.
- In the fair, flamenco dresses are an important part of local fashion. Women wear very elegant and colorful flamenco dresses, and men usually wear suits and hats.
- The fair takes place in May and lasts for a week. During this time, Jerez becomes a very lively and attractive place for visitors from all over the world.
Origins of the Jerez Fair
According to historians, the origins of Jerez Fair date back to the livestock fairs held by Alfonso X the Wise at the city, during the thirteenth century. These fairs were held in temporary venues in different parts of the municipality throughout history. It was in 1903 when the Gonzáles Hontoria Park was declared the permanent Real de la Feria.
Among the animals featured in the livestock fair, some stands were set to sell drinks. In these places, merchants tried to close deals. A multitude of curious people used to gather to witness the business interaction between stockbreeders that came from different parts of the world. With the passing of the years, other people and personalities began attending the event to have some fun or make a profit.
- In those days, the fair began at the time it now ends, at sunrise.
- The neighbors from the streets that made up the Real de la Feria were in charge of providing illumination to the venue, placing torches in the doorways of their houses.
- Back then, Sevillanas were not the most popular dance but the Bulerías. Nowadays, all kinds of rhythms are danced at the fair, most of which have nothing to do with Andalusia.
- Liquor and cognac were the typical drinks of the fair. Later would come the fino and the fragrant wines typical of Jerez. Nowadays, the preferred drink among young people is the Rebujito (a cocktail that mixes Sherry and soft drinks).
- The fair used to take place in April. Now, it is held during the first two weeks of May.
- The first huts where made in wood and fabric. Then, they were permanent constructions. Now, they are set up for the fair and taken down once it ends.
From Livestock Fair to Horse Fair
If you think the Jerez Fair is like any other Andalusian fair, you are mistaken. The main difference is the exclusive program of activities that feature horses. Before wine, horses were what made Jerez worldwide famous.
Miguel Primo de Rivera was the person who turned Jerez Fair into a Horse Fair. As Mayor of the city, he decided to connect the Semana del Caballo (Horse Week), organized by Álvaro Domecq, to the city’s spring festival. Under the name of Feria del Caballo (Horse Fair), it brought together all of the events related to the livestock fair, as well as the trading.
Program of equestrian activities in the Jerez Fair
The calendar of equestrian activities during the Jerez Fair is designed to entertain all kinds of visitors. It includes activities for both horse fans and experts in the field.
On each day of the fair, you will be able to enjoy the Horsemen and Equestrian Parade through the streets of the fair grounds. Between 1.00 p.m. and 7.30 p.m., horsemen and women, in addition to all manner of carriages pass through the fairgrounds, displaying their full regalia. A colourful, elegant show marked by equestrian protocol as far as dress goes.
Horse-riding trials of special interest for fans from around the world. Acoso y derribo, doma vaquero(Spanish riding), beauty contests, dressage displays, carriage exhibition, awarding of the Golden Horse Prize to the most outstanding personal and professional development in the equestrian field. The Depósito de Sementales, Cortijo de Vicos and IFECA Fair Enclosure are just some of the places where these activities are held.
Mounted bull fight, along with the traditional bull fights amd livestock contest at Jerez Bull Ring.
2023 Horse Fair
The Jerez Fair this year starts on Saturday 6th May and will continue until the following Saturday 13th May. Therefore,Fair Monday becomes a public holiday. The switching on of the lights on the first Saturday night will be the starting point for one of the oldest fairs in Andalusia. 1,160,602 lights will light up the 2022 Horse Fair’s spectacular infrastructure with 52 double porticos, 206 arches, 15 garlands, 120 projectors and 175 booths to choose from.
Fair Tuesday will remain Kids’ Day, with special prices, and the attractions will remain open on Sunday 8th May even if the Fair has been closed due to the volume of visitors to the kids’ zone on that day.
Tourist information point
During the celebration of the Horse Fair, an event of International Tourist Interest, the City Council will offer a service of information and attention to the visitor. The Tourist Information Point is installed on the main entrance of the González Hontoria Park site, located on Alcalde Álvaro Domecq.
In this space both the people of Jerez and those who decide to visit this fabulous fair will be able to consult all their doubts, from event information as well as promotion of the activities that are developed. This information point will be active every day of the fair from 1pm to 6pm.
Daytrip to Jerez de la Frontera: wine, horses and flamenco in the heart of the province of Cadiz
WHERE TO STAY
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