On September 28 and 29, 2013, the usually quiet town of Binissalem will hold its annual Grape Throwing Festival. This weekend will kick off celebrations that extend up to two weeks afterward. The food fight occurs almost daily. This festival is the only grape throwing festival in the world.
Mallorca is one of the islands in Spain’s Balearic archipelago and is in fact the largest in the island group that is located in the Mediterranean Sea. Many people take the direct flight to Mallorca to see this yearly feast. Others start out from Valencia or Barcelona and take the ferry to the island from there.
The festival has roots in the ancient wine-making tradition in the region. It is said that the festival dates back to Roman times and was the means by which wine makers got rid of grapes that have gone bad. Pelting other people with real grapes seems to be the best idea around at that time and since it was so much fun the tradition stuck.
There is the suggestion that the Grape Throwing Festival originated when farmers started throwing poor quality grapes at each other that they did not know how to dispose of. The locals were said to be at a loss with what to do with the grapes that were not good enough for the wineries. When they experienced how much fun it was to toss them around and throw them at other people, they never looked back and kept on doing it year after year, enjoying the mess they made. The grape throwing event is also believed to assure a good harvest since the “not so good” grapes are dealt with before the winter months.
Many other cultures have food fights but Mallorca’s “Festa des Vermar” is indeed a sight to see. This festival has placed quaint Binissalem on the tourism map of Europe. A thousand visitors flock to the island for this annual food fight.
Off to the fields!
This fiesta of grapes starts out with a runner after a rocket launch leads his eager followers to a field where potential grape-dodgers gather every year. They gather around a heap of grapes of the variety called the “manto negero,” and then they throw them at each other at a signal from town officials. First time participants ought to wait for that whistle blow that officially marks the start of the grape throwing.
Mallorca’s “Festa des Vermar” is not just about throwing grapes at each other. It also involves a lot of grape stomping. There is also a lot of wine drinking for sure since Binissalem is a wine-growing town. There was a time in the past when only locals were allowed to participate but these days visitors can throw as many grapes as they can manage. They can also drink as much wine and join the party.