Haro Wine Festival

Haro Wine Festival
Photo: batalladelvino.com
The Haro Wine Festival, also known as the Haro Wine Battle (Batalla del vino), is a unique festival held in the Spanish town of Haro located in La Rioja province. It is held every year on June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (Saint Peter, known as San Pedro in Spain, is one of the town’s patron saints).

The origins of the Haro Wine Festival can be traced back to the mid-6th century. The festival is believed to have developed from the religious pilgrimage to the burial site of Saint Felices that typically took place around the Feast of Saint Peter and Paul. Wine was used in the Eucharist (Holly Communion), a Christian rite that is believed to have been instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper.

However, by the end of the 19th century the festival had little to do with religion as it had transformed into something more resembling a party. Today it is one of the most colorful festivals in Spain. It has been officially declared the Fiesta of National Tourist Interest.

The Haro Wine Festival begins at 7 am on June 29. Hundreds of people, all dressed in white and wearing red festival kerchiefs, participate in a festive procession led by the mayor of Haro on horseback. The procession winds through the town to the Cliffs of Bilibio where a mass is held in honor of Saint Felices of Bilibio.

The battle breaks out after the mass. All participants have bottles, jugs, buckets, canisters and other vessels filled with red wine, some use water guns and wine-filled balloons for better aim. The main goal is to get everyone’s clothes as purple as the banner of Haro. The organizers even offer guidelines for participants:

  1. Dress in white and don’t forget your red party kerchief.
  2. Get your neighbors soaked with wine as fast as you can.
  3. Use approved weapons and wine containers (glass bottles are prohibited).
  4. Keep on laughing and singing while the battle lasts.
  5. If you see someone whose clothes are still at least partially white, they are your preferred target.
  6. Don’t trust anyone, your friends will be your first enemies.

The battle ends at noon, when everyone is soaked from head to toe. Revelers return to Haro to have lunch and then keep on celebrating in the main square.

Haro Wine Festival

Photo: Alfonso Bermejo Garcia




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