Each year from the 27th to 30th of June, thousands of locals and visitors travel to the Spanish city of Haro to take part in the Haro Wine Festival. Known as La Batalla Del Vino De Haro, the event originated as a week of drinking and music; but has gained global attention for its world-famous Wine Fight. The Spanish region of La Rioja is famous for producing red wine so it’s only fitting that thousands of visitors travel to the small town to participate.
The Wine Battle is an event that takes place during the Haro Wine Festival; a tradition that dates back to the 13th century. The festival takes place in the main town square and features concerts, food, partying and of course: wine drinking! A large stage is set up in the square and you can enjoy a traditional Spanish celebration with performers and brass instruments. The parties continue on into the streets, with locals often putting on their own mini-concerts; and the festivities continue on into the early morning.
The official battle takes place on June 29, the patron day of Saint San Pedro. People begin to gather in Haro by Sunrise and the festivities begin at 7 am. The fight takes place approximately 7km from the town on La Rioja mountain. Participants generally make the trek but complimentary shuttle buses are also available.
The morning begins with a traditional Catholic mass that takes place outdoors on the mountain. 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.
It is a tradition and pretty much essential to wear a white shirt and red scarf to the battle; however, some participants dress up in full costume. Make sure to dress comfortably and wear something that you don’t mind getting ruined because anything that goes up the mountain will come back down stained pink! Goggles are also recommended to protect your eyes from the stinging liquid.
After the wine fight on the mountain concludes at noon, everyone moves down back into the town and continues to celebrate the festival. The town of Haro comes to life with food, drinks, dancers and even a bull ring. The festival uses small female bulls also known as ‘vaquillas’, who entertain the public by chasing people around. These bulls are less dangerous than male bulls and no bulls are killed or harmed during the event. It is also common during the party to see people pouring wine directly down one’s throat!
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!
So what other crazy food fight festivals are there in the world? Why not check out the Battle of the Oranges in Italy and who could not forgot about the world famous La Tomatina close to Valencia, Spain.
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