Men sit tall on horseback wearing formal finery, the brims of their low-rise cowboy hats slicing the Spanish sun. Women in fiery handsewn gowns giggle behind lace fans. The Sherry flows and the sounds of flamenco share the air with the smells of smoked chorizo.
Welcome to Feria de Jerez, the annual festival thrown the second week of May in the heart of Spain’s Sherry country. What once began humbly in the Middle Ages as a horse and livestock show has come to be the most anticipated holiday in the state of Cádiz, with feasts, bullfights and dancing till dawn.
Planning your trip to Jerez couldn’t be timelier.
First, Sherry is having a major moment—and Jerez is the nerve center of its production. London has seen a boom in dedicated Sherry bars, New Yorkers throw Manzanilla-pairing parties, and bartenders worldwide boost their cocktails with doses of Pedro Ximenez. (When in Jerez, go local and either take your Sherry neat, or in rebujitos—a must-try mix of fino and lemon soda.)
Second, and most importantly, since the international tourist set still seems preoccupied with the more commercial running of the bulls in Pamplona and the Feria de Abril in Sevilla, the party in Jerez remains a truly Spanish affair and under the radar—for now.
* Plan your trip now! Most Jerez hotels sell out by October.