Only Mendoza’s Vendimia festival could bring together flying cantaloupes, a beauty pageant, city-wide wine tasting and a song and dance routine reminiscent of a Las Vegas show. It’s no wonder of course that this local harvest festival draws in an international crowd. Though the party begins months in advance in districts across Mendoza province, most activities culminate in the months of January and February. On this 78th year of Vendimia, the agenda is full of activities that include outdoor movies, live music performances, theater, puppetry, folk dance and much more.
Here are the highlights of this year’s Vendimia festivities:
February 22, 12 PM: Vendimia Queens arrive at Mendoza City
March 1, 9 PM: Young Vendimia, in the Julio Le Parc Cultural Center
March 2, 9 PM: Blessing of the Fruit, in the Prado Gaucho area of San Martin Park
In recognition of Mendoza’s impressive agricultural industry, the local Archdiocese presides over an open-air concert which culminates in the blessing of locally grown produce. Cultivating plants in a desert province is hardly an easy task; therefore the event is aimed at expressing thanks to God for the fruits of another year’s harvest.
March 3, 8 PM: Vendimia Queen’s Ball, in the Julio Le Parc Cultural Center
March 4, 9 PM: Vendimia Food & Wine Celebration in the Hotel Arena, Maipu
March 5, 9 PM: Harvest Festival, at the Francisco Gabrielli Airport
You don’t get to see a grape harvest at an airport very often… This is one of the top events for unusual harvest places where people gather the grapes at night time under the glare of the runway lights.
March 7, 9 PM: Via Blanca Queen’s Parade, winding through the downtown area of Mendoza City
Friday night, the main streets of Mendoza City fill with 18 floats carrying beauty queens each representing a district from the province. Along with a variety of local personalities, gauchos and the like, the floats weave their way through the downtown city streets while the queens throw fresh fruit into the crowd: melons, grapes, peaches and pears soar through the air into the outstretched hands of the crowd.
March 8, 10 am: El Carrusel de las Reinas
On Saturday morning, the 18 beauty queens once again parade through the city and wave to upwards of 250,000 spectators from around the world. The parade showcases Mendoza’s historical ties to the vineyard and celebrates the future of the wine industry in Argentina. While similar to the Vía Blanca conducted the night before, you can expect to see more traditional elements of Argentine culture: gauchos on horseback, herds of folklore dancers and more. Watch out for the flying melons.
March 8, 10pm: The final Vendimia Show Acto Central
The Vendimia Show is the culmination of the entire festival, and the hundreds of dancers, musicians, actors and stage crew put on a night to be remembered with dance, song and performance. The Vendimia Queen of the year is also selected and crowned. Nearly 25,000 audience members pack into the open air Frank Romero Day Amphitheater in the foothills of the Andes, and another 20,000 cling to the neighboring hillsides to watch the show with a bird’s eye view. Bring food, drink and a butt pillow.
March 9-11, 9 PM: Repeats of the Acto Central
If you’re not in the mood to sit through a lengthy voting process and coronation of the Vendimia Queen, the repeats are the best option to enjoy the show and save some time.