Every year on June 29th, the town of Haro, in the heart of La Rioja is the site of a major battle. Hundreds of Spaniards celebrate by soaking each other with wine, using any means possible.
Squirt guns, sprayers, boxed wine and bottles are used to wet everyone within range.
Early in the morning people head out of town, on foot or by car through the vineyards and up the side of a mountain to San Felices. They make the hike up the mountain, and celebrate mass for their city's patron saint. Most dress in white from head to toe, and tie the traditional red handkerchiefs around their necks. They carry wine - in bottles, bota bags, boxes, squirt guns and even sprayers with backpacks. The mass ends and the battle begins in the hills and on the road back down to town. As everyone returns to town, they circle the main plaza while bands play typical music.
Lots of visitors park in the vineyards outside of town, and walk the rest of the way. So many cars try to park in the fields that the police direct traffic. Even walking the road through the vineyards is fair game for being squirted with wine.
Recommendations - If You're Going...
If you are going to attend the Battle, we have the following suggestions:
Dress in White - Like the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans." In this case, that means you should dress in white, at least in an old white t-shirt. If you don't, you'll stand out like a sore thumb and become more of a target.
Bring a Change of Clothing - No matter what, you'll get wet, so bring a change of clothing because it is brisk in the morning when your clothing is soaking wet. That means a change of shoes and socks, too!
Bring a Towel - Bring an old towel, so you can at least dry your hands and face.
Come Armed - Be sure to bring a large squirt gun or bota (wine skin) filled with red wine. If you don't, you'll feel frustrated after being squirted a few times with wine, and wish you could "squirt back.”
Bring Large Trash Bags - Trash bags? Yes! You'll need them! Many people cover their car's front bucket seats with large trash bags because they don't change their clothes until they get back into town. Trust us, you don't want to sit on the seats, rental or not, in wine-soaked clothing. Cover the seats in plastic and bring an extra bag for your wet clothes.