Everyone who comes to Seville expects to watch a top class Flamenco performance, but very few people know that you can watch a great Flamenco show in Seville without paying anything!
Is the performance really free?
In many of Seville's flamenco bars, there is no entry charge. You can enjoy flamenco for free. However, these free flamenco bar owners expect that your visit will involve some expense for drinks; the staff will certainly nudge you politely as you settle in.
My 5 favourite free flamenco bars in Seville
1. La Carboneria – Centrally located free Flamenco performance
La Carboneria has such a convenient central location in Santa Cruz that you will not mind paying for a drink or two, to watch a top quality flamenco performance for free. The performance scores highly on all counts – the music, singing, and dancing – but in the summer you may feel the heat of the packed audience in addition to the passion generated by the dancers.
The food at Carboneria is ok but not great; so stick to the basic plan of buying a drink and leaning back to enjoy the free flamenco performance. There is a large gap between the 15 minute performances, but you can stay as long as you like, there is no pressure to leave. Though shows start at 930 you must try and get in earlier by 9pm. This way you can sit in the front and observe the footwork of dancers on the rather low stage!
2. La Taberna – Cheap drinks and free flamenco by the Triana riverside
After you finish your Tapas hopping along Calle Betis, you should peek into La Taberna free flamenco bar located on the same street, along the Triana riverside. The owner (Reyes) with his guitar himself attends to the guests, whether you are a local or visitor.
Along with the free Flamenco performance, drinks at La Taberna are cheap, only 3 euros. You should try the excellent manzanilla, along with local, oil ripened cheese.
3. Lola de los Reyes – Best free flamenco in the new part of Seville
Do not miss the hospitality of Lola and her son Antonio, just 15 minutes away from Torre del Oro in the new part of Seville. It is best to reserve a place in advance, because Lola’s free flamenco performances are very popular in Seville, despite the action starting only after midnight.
Lola is a multitasker, full of energy from the time she gently requests you to buy a proper drink, and all through the performances that last well into the night. I will gladly buy the 8 euro drink any day, to watch the energetic and authentic flamenco for free and sit as long as I want.
4. Quitapesares – Orange wine and free local flamenco, in a Historic Tavern
Quitapesares is just a 5 minute walk away from the Metropol Parasol, in Plaza Padre Jerónimo de Córdoba. The place is run in the memory of the legendary flamenco singer Pepe Pergil who was the founder and original owner.
The atmosphere is the first thing you will fall in love with at Quitapesares; the flamenco bar is lined with his pictures and memorabilia. The locals start to join in one by one and perform an impromptu flamenco in honour of Pepe Pergil and as a show of solidarity with the much loved local family and Pepe’s son, who now runs the place.
Make sure to try the orange wine and tapas of snails in this historic tavern, which used to be the meeting place for flamenco legends like Imanol Arias and others. The flamenco performances are totally free and obviously not scheduled; so you should plan to spend a couple of hours. It is worth it.
5. Lo Nuestro – Free Sevillana performances on Calle Betis
Lo Nuestro is a relaxed bar in Triana, famous for its free Flamenco performances in the Sevillana style. The live music is an excellent accompaniment to the patrons who join in the dancing without any schedule or prompting. You will feel that the performance is genuine and authentic, and not a put on show for visitors.
As in other places, you should expect to buy a drink in exchange for a free flamenco performance. I wish they could be subtle about this; you are expected to commit to a drink at the door as you enter. And even if the drinks are slightly expensive, the experience of watching Sevillanas at Lo Nuestro is well worth it.
Local Seville families run these flamenco bars for free. For many of them, it is their source of their livelihood. They will appreciate your visit very much so please buy a drink or some food as you enjoy the free performance.
You do not need a reservation at these free flamenco performances; so feel free to walk-in any time.
Practical suggestions to enjoy free flamenco bars
Yes it is very much possible to watch a free flamenco show in Seville bars if you know what is unique at each place. I have compiled some suggestions and tips for the well known flamenco bars in Seville.
- At La Carboneria, try and reach at least 20 minutes early for the first show at 930 pm. In peak season, they host another flamenco performance at 1030 pm but it can get quite packed by then. Locating La Caboneria is easy, it is off Calle San Jose in Santa Cruz.
The best part is that the owners do not push you to buy a drink. But you should because the drinks are not too expensive, €9 for a jar of Sangria and a flamenco performance for free!
- Casa Anselma is popular but over rated. You will certainly see this venue in every list of bars and I do not disagree with any of the guidebooks. My personal view is that the show has become too commercial and packed with English and Americans tourists, over the years.
Free flamenco show at Casa Anselma. Tourists are encouraged to participate by Senora Anselma
If you decide to go, plan to reach Casa Anselma by midnight. It is a popular destination in Tirana known to all taxi drivers.
- At Lo Nuestro you will find locals dancing to flamenco music in a very informal and boisterous setting. Ideally, be there by midnight and enjoy into the wee hours of morning.
- Bar T de Triana is caters to budget travellers and you should note that the flamenco shows are only every Tuesday and Thursday, at 10pm. Bar T de Triana has the best view of the river and to get the best spot you must reach by 9:30 PM.
- Asociacion Antigua de Sevilla hosts amateur shows, Thursdays to Saturdays at 9:30pm. Entry fee is a nominal €3. I would recommend this only if you are comfortable in Spanish or have a local friend.
Tablao Alvarez Quintero is on my list despite not being a free flamenco bar. It charges a moderate fee for an extremely passionate and authentic flamenco show without distraction of any drinks or dinner. The show is followed by a free course on flamenco basics. (Entry is priced at €18).
On my last trip to Seville, I went to La Carboneria. I had an evening to kill and was lured by the well advertised free flamenco performance. My local friends suggested I would be better off not visiting La Carboneria, but I went ahead.
The free flamenco performance at La Carboneria starts at around 930pm. I was there by 915pm so that I could latch on to a front seat. As can be expected the place gets crowded by 930pm. If you come in late, you will have to watch the show either from the far end or just standing. If it looks crowded at 930, skip that show and wait for the next one which starts in half an hour. In season, there is a free Flamenco performance every thirty minutes from 930 pm to until midnight.
The building once housed a coal storage and hence the name, "Carboneria". The venue is small and suffocating as there is no air conditioning. Ten minutes into the show, you will be literally sweating. The stage itself is small and not raised, so you will have to be in the front seats to enjoy the show. Do not expect any chairs, you will have to make do with hard bottomed long wooden benches.
It is a free show because unlike other tablaos in Seville, La Carboneria does not charge any entry fee. At other places, the ticket could be around €11 to €18. At La Carboneria, you just have to buy the modestly priced drinks - €9 Euros for a jar of sangria and €3 for a pint of beer. Food (tapas) price was modest but I did not try them.
I will definitely recommend going to a flamenco show. However, I am not so sure about the free flamenco shows. It might make more sense to go to one of the more popular shows. Not that I am an expert but must confess I have seen better performances in other venues.
The best place for free flamenco is La Carbonería, it's not easy to find because there are no signs with its name anywhere but it's on C/ Levíes, 18 and it's also a tapas bar. This June it entered the Catalogue of Andalusian Heritage due to its 40 years of activity.
I would also suggest “Museo del Baile Flamenco” though it is not free. However, you have a museum perfect for learning more about the art of flamenco and the ticket can also include a flamenco show organized by Cristina Hoyos, one of the biggest names in flamenco dancing worldwide.
Also in the Historical Centre you have the “Casa de la Memoria”, where you can see an hourly show in a charming environment, it can be a bit crowded but it’s not really expensive (18€ more or less).
A more private show is held in “Casa de la Guitarra” where they also explain you every “palo” (type of flamenco singing and dancing) before playing it. Just try to get to the front row, and you’ll enjoy it more.
In Triana there’s a secret spot inside the Market called “CasaLa Teatro”, with only 28 seats it is really intimate and private and it’s also got other shows such as other kinds of music and magic. The price is around 15€.