🇳🇱 Dit artikel is ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands: Flamenco in Sevilla beleven? Tips van een flamencodanseres
I took my flamenco baby steps over 10 years ago now. It was in a dance studio in Tilburg, the Netherlands, not the most obvious place to learn flamenco. But standing in that studio, stamping an intricate rhythm loudly onto the floor, I felt truly exhilarated. In years to come, I frequented various flamenco schools in the Netherlands, London and even Seville, considered by many as the birthplace of flamenco. I’ve been to Seville dozens of times now and it’s my home away from home. One of my top things to do in Seville is to attend flamenco shows. However, with so many venues, some especially geared towards tourists, it might be tricky to seek out the best. But fear not, help is here! This article lists some of the best venues for seeing flamenco in Seville. It even includes insider tips from local flamenco dancer Yinka Esi Graves!
What are the best places to see flamenco in Seville? Professional flamenco dancer Yinka shares her insider tips
Despite the countless films, concerts and art exhibitions I see each month, there’s nothing that moves me as much as seeing a flamenco show. It’s not only the combination of the invigorating music and percussive footwork, but also the wide array of deep emotions it manages to express. Flamenco covers anything from lament to nostalgia to passion but also humour. It’s basically a condensed version of life.
I prefer flamenco shows that include dance and not only music and singing. While I admire male dancers for their precision, power and technique, to me there’s nothing more beautiful than female flamenco dancers. Who, whilst being completely covered in fabric from top to toe, manage to ooze sensuality, passion, but most of all empowerment.
Yinka Esi Graves is one of such beautiful flamenco dancers. I first met Yinka a few years ago when she covered classes for my London flamenco teacher Ollie Giffin. She travelled in from Spain where she’s been based for years now. She has lived in various Spanish cities, including Seville, so I couldn’t think of a better person to provide input for this article. I’m so pleased she was willing to share her insider knowledge and recommend some great flamenco venues in Seville!
In this article you’ll find both popular locations that offer high-quality flamenco shows in Seville, but also less touristy destinations. Be aware that the smaller venues often don’t have any shows on during summer. (Because it’s just too fricking warm then!) So, to avoid any disappointments, I recommend checking the correct days and times beforehand.
Useful information: the Spanish word for a flamenco performance is un espectáculo flamenco.
1. Peña Torres Macarena (Calle Torrijiano 29)
Every Wednesday at 9.30pm, entrance fee €6
Peña Torres Macarena is one of my favourite flamenco venues and truly the ultimate tip to see flamenco in Seville. A peña is a private ‘flamenco club’ where you’ll usually see top artists on stage and find mostly only passionate locals in the audience. Peña Torres Macarena has a very intimate atmosphere. You are literally sucked into the performance and even as a spectator, you’ll be able to experience the famous duende. You can read more about this mystical spirit of flamenco in the information box below.
Good to know: Arrive around 9pm to ensure a seat. Drinks are served before the show and in the interval, but there’s no food.
2. Casa de La Memoria (Calle Cuna 6)
Daily at 7.30pm and 9pm (times vary per season), entrance fee €18
This is Yinka’s personal favourite and coincidentally also one of my regular flamenco haunts in Seville. Casa de La Memoria is a cultural centre located in a striking 15th-century building. The majority of the audience may consist of tourists, but the theatre space has a lovely atmosphere. However, this venue is far less intimate than the peña.
3. Bar T de Triana (Calle Betis 20)
This is another one of my usual flamenco haunts. Their regular flamenco nights have changed over the years, so frankly I’m a bit lost right now. But whenever I’m in Seville, I just drop by the bar during the day and check with the staff if they have any flamenco shows on that week.
Tip: Arrive just before a show and settle down at a table near the stage. It’s compulsory to order food then, but the tapas menu offers plenty of delicious (and cheap) classical dishes to choose from.
> Bar T de Triana also features in my list of tapas restaurants in Seville: Seville Foodie Tour: Tapas Y Mas.
Bar T de Triana is situated on the edge of Triana. This neighbourhood is separated from the main part of Seville by the river Guadalquivir. Triana is traditionally known as the gipsy neighbourhood of Seville. While there are various theories about the origins of flamenco, it’s generally accepted that it was introduced in Spain by the gypsies (gitanos). It’s believed these gypsies landed in the South of Spain from India and also introduced Jewish, Arab and African influences to the local culture. Since the Sevillian gypsies settled down in Triana, this area is regarded as the historical soul of flamenco.
In the past, Triana wouldn’t be on any tourist’s radar. But after the grim rehousing of most of the original residents to the suburbs of Seville, Triana is becoming a more popular tourist destination. With its maze of picturesque streets, filled to the brim with history, Triana is definitely worth a visit.
4. La Madriguera de Mai (Calle Arrayán 23)
Friday at 9.30pm (sometimes also on Saturday), entrance fee €3 (includes a drink)
This tip comes from a flamenco friend in London who lived in Seville for a while. La Madriguera de Mai is a small tapas restaurant/bar that hosts a weekly flamenco show. I visited once and truly enjoyed the fantastic and low-key performance that was mostly attended by locals. There’s no raised stage, so make sure to come early to snag a good spot.
Tip: There are a few tables in the bar that offer a great view of the performers. However, you’ll be expected to order food then. Luckily they serve mouth-watering dishes, including vegan options.
5. Los Gallos (Plaza de Santa Cruz 11)
Daily at 8.30pm and 10.30pm, entrance fee €35 (includes a drink)
Los Gallos is a so-called tablao. Tablaos are often criticised because they’re regarded as commercial venues, mostly aimed at tourists. Most tablaos offer ‘dinner shows’. Personally I’m not a fan of such venues and prefer to seek out more intimate bars. But I included a couple of tablaos in this list because Yinka pointed out you often get to see top artists perform at such venues. This is definitely true for Los Gallos, which is one of the oldest and most famous tabloas in Seville.
> Save these flamenco hotspots in Seville on Pinterest!
6. El Arenal (Calle Rodo 7)
Daily at 7.30pm and 9.30pm, entrance fee €39 (includes a drink, dining options available)
El Arenal is another popular tablao that’s known for its outstanding flamenco shows featuring world-class artists. I’ve never been to El Arenal, but Yinka speaks highly of it so I figured it therefore deserved a mention in this list.
7. La Carbonería (Calle Cespedes 21 A)
Several performances each night, free entrance
Confession time! I wasn’t sure if I should include La Carbonería in my list of top places to see flamenco in Seville. As it’s listed in all the guidebooks, La Carbonería was the first flamenco venue in Seville I ever visited. I was especially impressed with its location (it’s in a cave!), the party atmosphere and the fact that it’s free. (And let’s not forget the cheap drinks, including pitchers of sangría!)
But La Carbonería is also incredibly popular among tourists. Which is totally fine of course, because I’m a tourist too. But after various disappointing nights there (incredibly chatty spectators which led to completely stressed out and irritated dancers), I won’t be running back soon to see a flamenco show at La Carbonería again. Perhaps I was just unlucky a few times and I might be missing out on some wonderful flamenco nights by not going anymore. So if you do decide to visit La Carbonería in Seville in the future, I’m very curious to hear your experience!
8. Museo del Baile Flamenco (Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos 3)
Daily at 7pm (during peak season at 8.45pm), entrance fee €20
This tip is courtesy of my bestie, who I actually met at the flamenco school in Tilburg years ago. She’s been to the Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Museum) many times and speaks very highly of their flamenco shows but also recommends visiting the museum itself. Entrance for the museum costs €10 and a combination ticket (museum visit + flamenco performance) costs €24.
9. Teatro Flamenco de Triana (Calle Pureza 76)
The Teatro Flamenco de Triana is located in the Cristina Heeren Conservatory. It’s one of the most formal flamenco locations in this list, but according to Yinka their programme is worth checking out. So make sure you do so when you’re looking for things to do in Seville!
10. A few informal flamenco locations
- At former peña ART LAB (Calle Castellar 52) you’ll see emerging artists in a more informal setting.
- If you want to do some flamenco artist spotting, you’ll want to end the night at El Mantoncillo on Calle Betis 29 in Triana.
- Enjoy the La Chocolata’s Monday night Jam sessions at El Habanilla bar (Alameda de Hércules 63).
And for more flamenco in Seville, you go to the Bienal or Feria!
Bienal de Flamenco
Every two years at the end of September/beginning of October, Seville is taken over by the Bienal de Flamenco in Sevilla. With daily shows in the span of one month, you can fully immerse yourself in the world of flamenco in Seville’s main theatres. While the theatre shows are exceptional, I recommend finding out where the ‘after parties’ take place. Because chances are that some of the artists venture to smaller venues for more intimate flamenco performances after they’ve done their big theatre show.
Having been to Seville during several editions of the Bienal, I’ve discovered that a combination of official theatre shows and ‘impromptu’ performances in flamenco bars is the best way to experience the festival. Personally I prefer to see more classical flamenco shows (flamenco puro). However, the Bienal is also a great way to expand your flamenco palate. Their programme always includes outstanding modern and fusion flamenco performances.
Feria de Abril (April Fair)
In contrast to the biannual Bienal, the Feria de Abril (April Fair) takes place every year. It’s one of the main festivals celebrated throughout the whole of Spain. As the name suggests, it usually takes places in April. However, because the dates for this annual festival depend on Easter, it’s also sometimes celebrated in May.
If you visit Seville during the Feria, chances are you’ll feel you teleported back to Seville of yesteryear. You’ll find every Sevillian out on the streets, some even on horse and carriage, whilst donned in their most stunning traditional (flamenco) fiesta outfits. Always wanted to buy one of those characteristic polka dot dresses? The Feria is the perfect moment to treat yourself to one and show it off!
Together with the Semana Santa celebrations (Holy Week), the Ferias are Spain’s biggest annual events. Therefore, make sure you book your accommodation well in advance! And do some research because it might be tricky to get access to the festivities if you’re not a local resident. But if you do manage to go to the Feria, then it’s essential to learn to dance the Sevillianas! These four short choreographies are typical party dances from Seville that are danced non-stop during the Feria.
But you’ll often find the best flamenco in Seville in the most unexpected places
One of my most memorable flamenco moments in Seville occurred entirely by chance. I heard about a flamenco jam session in the local cultural centre through the flamenco school I attended. (Called: Taller Flamenco.) Besides our small group of international students, everybody else attending were Spaniards. We all had a great time so when they announced afterwards the gathering would continue a few doors down, we were eager to join the party.
I didn’t know what to expect, but decided to join, even just for a moment. I followed the small crowd through the narrow winding alleys and as we went through an inconspicuous wooden door, I felt like I had entered a film set. Suddenly I found myself in a handsome courtyard lined with adorable apartments.
As my eyes scanned over the space, I spotted a group of pretty Spanish girls on one of the balconies. First they swayed their bodies subtly to the rhythm of the music, but as they moved towards the centre of the courtyard, they transformed into perfect flamenco dancers. (I was obviously in awe with them but also remember feeling terribly jealous, ha ha.)
In the end I spent some hours in that courtyard, pretending to understand the palmas (technical flamenco clapping) and indulging in the tasty food and Spanish wine. This totally unexpected occasion became one of my dearest memories of experiencing flamenco in Seville. A city that will always have a special place in my heart.
Have you ever attended a flamenco performance? I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on it. Do share them in a comment below!
Thanks, Zarina xx