Writer Liz Carlson gives us her take on the chaotic Batalla del Vino, the Wine Battle Festival, held in Haro, Spain, each year.
By Liz Carlson
Spain definitely has the edge when it comes to crazy festivals. From hurling tomatoes at strangers during La Tomatina, to running down narrow cobblestone streets with several thousand-pound bulls during San Fermín, to lighting giant papier-mâché puppets on fire during las Fallas, there is no shortage of wild celebrations to chose from.
However, I am lucky enough to have one of the best right in my own backyard here in La Rioja. Less from an hour from Logroño, there is a little town called Haro. Now, Haro is famous for its vineyards, and it has a lot of wineries, so it’s not hard to imagine what is involved during its Wine Festival at the end of June, and no, it’s not a simple wine tasting.
The Haro Wine Festival is famous for its wine fight (Batalla del Vino), literally a battle of wine where thousands of people hurl 40,000 liters of red wine from buckets, bottles, squirt guns, pesticide sprayers, and any sort of container, until everyone turns a deep shade of purple and is soaked from head to toe. The festival is in honor of Haro’s patron saint, San Pedro. Most people dress all in white, better to see the wine that way, with a red bandana tied around the neck. Everyone streams out early in the morning to Mount Bilibio by any means of transport possible – tractors, trucks, walking – and carry as much wine as possible to the battle sight.
Jump headfirst into the mosh-pit of wet, purple bodies and get truly woken up with a bucket of red wine dumped over your head. Don’t get too tired because it is only the beginning of the festival. There are hours of bullfights, big meals, and parties in the streets to be had after the wine battle.
1. Bring goggles
2. Put your camera in a waterproof bag
3. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined, or dyed purple!
See more on festival dates and what to expect here: http://www.batalladelvino.com/
Liz Carlson writes at Young Adventuress which is about traveling and expat life abroad.