The Festival of Nations in Seville is almost 20 years old! Who knew? I only found out about it from a friend just a couple of days ago. We, along with her husband, decided to walk around Seville center as part of our English – Spanish interchange lesson (that is just going ever so slowly, thank you for asking! :-) ). The tourist season is in full gear! What a difference from the last month, when it was practically a ghost town. Even the locals leave town because of the heat in August. Everyone flocks to nearby Cadiz and its beaches. The heat to me is still better than in Houston! She mentioned it and suggested walking over to the park. Had Federico been with us, we probably would have gone that night.
The Festival of Nations is a collaboration between Human Rights activists, humanitarians, educators and with the cooperation of the local government. The purpose is to combat racism and xenophobia. The objective is to help immigrants integrate into Spanish society, in addition to showing the locals that there is nothing to fear from foreigners. I think this is such a wonderful thing. The atmosphere was one of peace and joy. I don’t know how it was when the festival was first started, but l can imagine that it might have been a bit different.
The Festival of Nations takes place at the Prado de San Sebastian park which is very close to the Seville center, right outside of the metro stop, so it make it very convenient. The entrance has some huge bouncy rides for kids and a little train depot. Continuing on, there are vendors selling handmade crafts from different places. Clothes from Mexico, Jade from India, lots of beaded jewelry and shoes and even a booth with products made from “oro vegetal”- gold from vegetable oil? I’ve never heard of that before. I wanted to talk to the vendor some to inquire, but he was so busy all the time, l let it go. The pieces looked so good, l wanted to buy something, but l definitely need to read up on it before l do that. I would be afraid the gold would tarnish quickly, or l would have a reaction to it. My skin is unfortunately very sensitive.
As much as l like the knickknacks, our main objective was the food! :-) . We were not disappointed with the offerings. Towards the rear of the park were the booths representing different countries… hallelujah! We had arrived at the park around 7PM while there was still daylight so we could take pictures. It wasn’t as packed then either,and there were still plenty of seats at the different restaurants. We made sure to walk around and see what sort of food we would like to eat. It was quite clear that we would have to return to the festival at least five more times to really experience all the variety of food. Unless you are a glutton, there was no way to eat everything in one go :-) !. The booths there that evening had food from Venezuela, Mexico, U.S.A, Russia, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and quite a few more. Looking at all the countries participating in the Festival of Nations though, some were missing. Japan, Thailand, Senegal and Jamaica for instance were not there. I can only assume that they take turns, or as time goes by, more countries will join in.
Music is also very much a part of the Festival of Nations. We saw a big stage, but by the time we left, there had been no performances. Sevillanos love staying up late, even though we left at about 10PM, loads and loads of people were just arriving. Next time, we will have to stay late and get our boogie on :-) . There is plenty of space to dance! Looking at the page with the artists, l have to find out what night they will have Flamenco, l have been itching to see a real show since we got here. In October, it looks like there will be a cooking class, the food looks great from the pictures.
The Festival of Nations runs through November 2, so if you are in Seville, you should definitely stop by. It ends at 11.30 PM on weekdays and 1 AM on weekends. It was lovely to hear English all around me for the evening. Being in the suburb, living like locals, Spanish is the norm of course :-) . There were quite a few other languages being spoken, as there were plenty of tourists mixed in with the locals. It was a lovely evening, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and from the looks of it, so did everyone else. That is something l have come to love about living in Spain, being among huge groups and not feeling apprehensive about some idiot having a gun or someone starting a fight. There was not a single police man in sight! Families were out, as were people with their pooches. Fun for all!
Admission is FREE!!!! I love that. Of course you still have to pay for your food and drinks, but they were pretty reasonable. My beef empanadas from Brazil was only €2.50 and it was stuffed..with actual beef..not that weird tasting beef that l complain about.. :-) . Our aim is to come back and sample food from all the countries. This day, we had Argentinian (chorizo with the most delectable salsa), Brazilian (empanadas, churrasco) and French (crepe), knocked back with some cold Negra Modelo beer from Mexico. Life was good!!!
What do you think of the Festival of Nations? Are you adventurous and enjoy trying different foods? or would you just look for your country’s booth and call it a day? :-)