Haro Wine Festival 2023: The Ultimate Wine Fight and Street Party Climb up a mountain in Rioja for the Haro Wine Festival otherwise known as Batalla Del Vino De Haro. Taking place each year in Haro, Rioja, Spain. Join thousands of thirsty folk as they take part in the ultimate Wine Fight. The festival is […]Haro Wine Festival 2023 Haro, La Rioja, Spain Haro La Rioja Spain
Climb up a mountain in Rioja for the Haro Wine Festival otherwise known as Batalla Del Vino De Haro. Taking place each year in Haro, Rioja, Spain. Join thousands of thirsty folk as they take part in the ultimate Wine Fight. The festival is considered one of the craziest food fights in the world and needs to be on your bucket list if you’re a lover of wine, good times and Spanish culture.
It is a ferocious battle above the Spanish vineyards using water guns, hoses, buckets, cups and pretty much anything you can get your hands on that can carry or throw the wine. Wine lovers and connoisseurs, don’t panic! This is the wine that wasn’t good enough to be bottled, and would’ve gone to the vinegar factory anyway.
‘As we were walking, it was impossible to miss the path that turned into a river of wine streaming down the hill. This was about to be heavy!’
The once quaint town of Haro changes completely as the sun goes down. Buzzing with the excitement of what the next day will bring, get ready for a night of happy people, good drinks, awesome DJ’s and bands. The Spanish don’t sleep, and neither should you!
During the Haro Wine Festival a big stage is set up in the main town square, where a street party takes place. The crowd is almost entirely Spanish and it’s great fun to mix in.
The vibe during the Haro Fight is non-stop; everyone from a two-year-old to 80-year-old grandmothers was laughing and squirting wine at each other.
It gets hectic in the middle of the field as there are local pros with literal buckets of wine, pouring them over people’s heads and of course, trying to target the ‘guirias’ and anyone that is still dressed in white and not purple!
A few local party trucks and tractors are right in the middle of the action, concealed from the madness in the safety of their vehicles, while also selling wine out of the back of the trucks. Locals show up to the wine battle with their heavy-duty, military-style farmer fertilizer water pistoles. It looks like something out of Ghostbusters!
These guys take the fight very seriously and do not look kindly to any ‘Guiaria’ (foreigners) still dressed in white.
Make sure to get to the hill early. The complimentary buses from town get very busy closer to the start and the queues to the parking lot get longer and longer.
It is a 7km hike to the hill along the road. It takes longer than expected and you don’t want to miss the start.
As tradition goes, everyone in town is dressed in white. If you don’t have a white t-shirt or trousers, you can pop into a local shop and get some there; along with a red bandana. There were even signs showing what to wear for the wine fight and it is strongly recommended to wear proper shoes, eyewear and no flip flops.
This had me thinking about what was really about to go down in the morning! Along with the clothing, we also got some water pistols from the store in Haro, as well as some boxed wine.
Pack your goggles or a diving mask and some sunscreen and avoid anything that shouldn’t get wet. Many people only take a waterproof case with some money, phone and keys.
Flip Flops are not a good idea for the wine fight, the floor with all the wine gets slippery and so do your feet getting soaked. Wear comfortable shoes that you can wash or chuck after the fight.
Entrance for the Haro Wine Festival is free for everyone.
La Batalla Del Vino is part of the Fiesta de San Pedro, an annual celebration every June in the town of Haro; located in the undisputed king of the wine region Rioja. Wander into town to Plaza de la Paz, the main square in Haro to celebrate the Haro wine battle.
Being Spain, things start a bit later but the crowd fills up quickly. Generally, people start going out for a bite to eat around 10 pm. The music goes on well throughout the night, with the whole town and tourists partying until sunrise.
Head to the Camping de Haro parking lot. There are free buses going up and down the mountain where the fight takes place. The lines for the buses can be absolutely massive and some people decide to just shake off the hangover and walk the 7km up the hill.
The area is stunning with vineyards on either side. If you stay outside of Haro, you can drive in along with all the other locals. The traffic is bumper to bumper if you leave too late.
The morning begins with a traditional Catholic mass at 8am that takes place outdoors on the mountain at Riscos de Bilibio. A ceremonial flag is placed on the mountain and the battle officially begins. Everything from water pistols to jugs, buckets and even hoses will be filled with wine and hurled at anyone and everyone.
After the wine battle, the afternoon is dedicated to Spanish traditional entertainment. The party continues later in the evening and, of course, goes well into the early hours of the morning. There is more live music and bands playing.
The Children’s Wine Battle is a kid-friendly version of the wine fight where they use grape juice instead of wine. It takes place at the main square Plaza de la Paz 2 days before the morning of the wine fight.
Bring Wine: Unlike the name suggests, the battle doesn’t actually come with the wine and will not be for sale on the mountain. Make sure to stock up on ammo and bring it with you to the battle.
Come Armed: Just about anything that can contain liquid will be filled with wine and thrown all over the crowd. Take the battle to the next level and invest in water guns and super soakers for the ultimate battle experience.
Rest: The locals know how to party and will carry out the celebrations from dusk till dawn. Prepare to have minimal quiet time and rest up when you can so you will be fit for battle!
The long wine-soaked history started with an old feud between neighbors that broke out into an angry wine fight. A tradition that would become a part of Spanish history for the next 400 years.
You can find some of the best wines in Spain and Europe in the region of Haro, La Rioja. We bumped into a local historian Fernando, who gave me the rundown of his picks of the best place for wine in the town. Here is a list of his favorites:
1. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, S.A
2. Bodegas La Rioja Alta
3. Bodegas Gomez Cruzado
4. Bodegas Muga
This is the oldest winery region and wall the wineries are right next to each other so it was easy to hop from one to the next. We went with Fernando’s advice and did a tasting at Viña Tondonia. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to book in a tour of the Tondonia winery as it was full and you have to book in advance. The tasting did not disappoint and we could have stayed there all day!
Haro also has a number of museums with everything from history to art, and of course, wine. One of the main attractions is the Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture, an impressive museum dedicated exclusively to wine. There was also the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Haro El Torreón, displaying local contemporary art.
No trip to Spain is complete without sampling some traditional tapas. Try Jamonero Madrid, a bar dedicated (although not limited to) all things ham. For a more authentic experience, locals flock to Mesón Los Berones, a tapas bar filled with traditional Riojan tapas. Finally, Bar Benigno is perfect for classic and traditional ‘raciones’, offering famous tapas with slightly bigger portions.
There are so many epic tapas bars to choose from right off the Plaza. We strolled up through Calle Santo Tomás, checking out a couple of bars. You can’t go wrong with tortillas in this part of Spain; the chorizo tortilla was next level, along with the vino.
Afterward, we headed down to the next alleyway Calle San Martin, where Plaza San Martin was going off at the end of the road. A local band was tearing it up and the crowd was going absolutely nuts! Everyone descended into Plaza de la Paz from the bars around 11 pm. There were local bands playing, processions going on and everyone was in high spirits for the wine fight in the morning.
The Wine Fight takes place in the small town of Haro in the Rioja region of Spain. You can take a bus from Barcelona to Haro or the quickest way is to get to San Sebastian and take a shuttle bus from there.
There are a few apartments in Haro and the surrounding villages and many options within 30 minutes drive away. You can find everything from hotels to apartments, guest houses and Airbnb’s. Head to the map here for the best accommodation deals during the festival.
If you are looking to party and just fall into bed for a few hours we recommend staying in Haro. Eurostars Los Agustinos is a unique hotel in a 14th-century convent. Tinto Dreams Hostel offers a modern design and a shared kitchen and lounge. It’s a great place to meet fellow festival-goers.
If you are looking to explore the area a bit stay in some of the small villages outside like Sajazarra or Tirgo where you can find more places to stay that are more affordable and super cute with great restaurants and bars. The Sajazarra Casa Vacacional is a great option if you travel as a group. You can barbecue in the garden and enjoy the beautiful Rioja region.
Renting a car is a good option to explore the Rioja region, and getting in and out of Haro. Parking is easy to find. There are also taxis available but you sometimes have to wait or really look for one.
The Haro Wine Festival is considered second to La Tomatina which is a well known Spanish fiesta. Are you looking for festivals that are lesser-known? Read more about Cascamorras and the Colacho Baby Jumping Festival.
Wade Gravy, former editor of Australia’s Surfing Life and life-long part of Stoke Travel based himself in Barcelona and really knows Spain’s weirdest and wildest fiestas. Rad Season Founder Oli Russell-Cowan chats to him about some of his best stories and his love for food, wine and partying.
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