If you are going to visit Spain and are as horse crazy as I am, then you MUST visit the Jerez Horse Fair! This festival is an annual event that happens every May in Andalucia, the southwest region of Spain. Yes, this is where those gorgeous Andalusian horses come from! Thousands of horses and visitors flock to this region to see fabulous and crazy displays of horsemanship from all disciplines including cowboy and classical dressage, polo and carriage driving!
This festival was first started to celebrate the horse in 1955 by the Domecq Sherry family who wanted to hold it in a prominently horse part of the city. But it was way back in 1264 when Alfonso ‘the wise’ reconquested the city and declared that they would have two annual fairs. However, it was in the Middle Ages that it was seen as an opportunity for farmers to bring livestock into the city to sell them. When it was declared a horse festival, travelling gypsies came to the Jerez fair to make money with their performing horses and it has grown to the festival that it is today with flamenco dancing, wine flowing and horses prancing.
Can’t you just see it? Everywhere you look in the city immaculately dressed aristocratic men stroll their proud horses down the street with flamenco women perched behind them. I don’t know about you, but sitting sideways on a horse’s rump in full flamenco garb sounds hard! They look so poised and proud of their Spanish heritage. But it’s not just riding that you find in this fair – carriages from England, Russia, Hungary and of course Spain parade effortlessly through the centre of town! If you get a little peckish after feasting your eyes on the fantastic displays of horsemanship, head over to the 200 casitas (traditional Spanish marquees) where you can find extraordinary food and, of course, lots and lots of sherry!
But night time is when the city really comes alive! The colours and flavours of the day change as the guitar rhythms get faster and the wine keeps flowing and instead of prancing horses it’s the stomping of flamenco dancing.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be awed by the horses when the sun is up and dance the night away with Spanish music and sherry! Who is with me?
Photo credits: Gib Spain, Pinterest, Andrew Harper and Drives Spain