The Jerez Horse Fair (Feria de Caballo) which is traditionally the first week in May is an exciting and lively event that brings the entire city to the Gonzalo Hontoria Fairgrounds, which cover 52,000 square metres, giving ample space for the finest horses of Jerez as synonymous with the city as sherry and flamenco, to show off their moves to the crowds who flock to the two hundred or so casetas which, unlike Seville's, are mainly open to the public, and other attractions.
One of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of attending the Horse Fair is seeing the locals and Spaniards from nearby towns dressed in traditional costumes. Women wear the stunning flamenco dresses known as trajes de gitanas (gypsy dresses) and the men wear short-cropped riding jackets and flat, broad-rimmed hats.
The history of the Jerez Horse Fair goes back over 500 years, to the commercial livestock fairs that were established in April and September, in the time when Jerez was just a small town back during the reign of Alfonso X El Sabio (the Wise).
An official agreement was signed by various participating merchants in 1491. The event slowly gained momentum as a form of entertainment with the local wine producers setting up stands and then a children’s amusement park added and so on until the fair took on its present day form.
The recinto was opened in 1903, and in the same year it was agreed that individuals and societies could build their own casetas.To the outsider, this fair is similar to the Seville fair, with portada and casetas , but it has its own special equine flavour, and takes place in an entirely different venue – what is, essentially, a park. It is known for its refined air, due to the many aristocratic sherry families in the city with their beautiful horses. Each year this Feria has a different theme.