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Batalla del Vino: Spain's Messy Wine Battle

If you think the famous Tomato Fight, La Tomatina, is messy, then wait till you hear about la Batalla del Vino: Wine Battle. Instead of drinking and savoring red wine, the people of La Rioja region prefers to splash them all over the place. The idea is to get everyone really wet, sticky and tasting of wine!
On the 29th June, the village of Haro in La Rioja celebrates this unique festival in style. Festival-revelers dorn in white gather in the city’s old quarters where wine pours onto the crowd in abundance. The crowd turns into a beautiful shade of purple as wine wreaks havoc in the city. It’s a an indulgent festival, where children and adults alike frolick in wine.

History of Batalla del Vino

How did it all get started? Unlike most festivals in Spain, this one does not celebrate any patron Saint. It is no where near saintly and there’s not a hint of religious purpose in its celebrations. La Rioja is famous for its regional wine, but that doesn’t give them excuse to waste those exquisite reds!
The Wine Battle has its roots in a land dispute with the nearby village, Miranda de Ebro, back in the 900s. As time went by, the battle became less angsty and more light-hearted. Eventually sometime during the late 19th or early 20th century, La Batalla del Vino was born. Although the wine battle only starts after a celebratory mass in the town’s chapel on the 29th June morning, the town can barely contain its excitement.

When and How Batalla del Vino is Celebrated

After the morning mass, the mayor of Haro announces the start of the festival. Along with a group of revelers, they proceed to the top of Mount San Felices, dressed in all white except for a red bandana around their necks. Armed with some weapons and armor, they start to re-enact the traditional battles that used to take place at this exact spot. But unlike what happened back then, the weapons they use consist of water funs, plastic bottles and cups. The armor – goggles to protect their eyes!
Thousands of locals and visitors charge towards one another with bottles full of wine and start splashing all over the place. The combat rages for several hours until around noon time when the celebrants make their way to the town center for a sort of mini running of the bulls. Revelers then proceed to indulge in huge feasts and of course more wine.
To get the latest updates of the Batalla del Vino, go to the town’s official website.

Read more on other festivals in Spain:
>> Festival of San Fermin: Running of the Bulls
>> La Tomatina: Spain’s Biggest Food Fight
>> Festivals in Seville
>> Festival in Valencia: Las Fallas
Photo credit: All photos from Wikipedia.