Vendimia, Mendoza’s annual harvest festival, is the most popular festival of the year, and a very popular tourist pick - ranked number two on National Geographic’s list of the world's best harvest festivals.
Mendoza’s La Fiesta Nacional de Vendimia (Mendoza’s harvest festival) is the most popular festival of the year, ranked number two on National Geographic’s World Best Harvest Festivals. It celebrates the kick off of the Mendoza grape harvest season, dating back as early as the 17th century.
Vendimia has several events in the months leading up to the main event in early March. Each of the 17 departamentos de Mendoza (sections of Mendoza) has its own festival where the Queen (a beauty queen from the section) is selected to represent the region. Festivals range from celebrating food, dance or music, and often all three. And during the first week of March, there is much grandeur around presenting all the major aspects of authentic Argentine culture in this festival, such as folklore dance, music, and traditional Argentine cuisine.
The typical laid back lifestyle of the city changes to a lively festival-like atmosphere, beginning with La Bendición de los Frutos, during which a priest blesses the fruit.
Via de las Reinas, a Saturday night parade that displays the 17 beautiful queen nominees in brightly colored dresses on top decoratively designed floats, riding through the main streets of downtown Mendoza is casual, but festive.
The main parade kicks off the following morning through the gates of Parqué San Martín, with tons of confetti and fireworks flying through the air. This parade is meant to honor the rural work and the crossing of the Cordillera by the Liberation Army. Mules, donkeys, horses, wagons and authentic gauchos (Argentine cowboys) in tradition attire fill the streets. The queens throw fruit such as grapes, pears, apples and more in the crowd resembling a Mardi Gras for the whole family - a spectacle not to be missed.
The grand finale, Acto Central (the Central Act) is located in the spectacular Greek amphitheater, Teatro Griego, in front of more than 20,000 guests and with thousands more watching from Cerro de la Gloria. This marvelous six scene, choreographed show is made up of dance, theatre, and opera combined with lights and sounds that tells the story of the virgin of Carrodilla. After the queen is elected, a remarkable fireworks show lights up the city -- the grand finale.
Vendimia is the biggest annual festival and celebration in Mendoza. If you're planning a trip for February or March, be sure not to miss it and to buy your tickets early.