Mendoza, Argentina hosted its 78th annual grape harvest festival known as "La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia," a ten-day cultural celebration that attracts hundreds of thousands of revelers from near and afar.
The festival officially commences with a religious blessing of the crops. It continues with the colorful La Via Blanca and El Carrusel parades where 18 elected beauty queens representing the departments of Mendoza float through the streets on emblematic chariots tossing fruit to the animated crowds. Around 250,000 people rally to watch the Carrusel parade, which also celebrates the various communities who contribute to the grape harvest.The festival culminates with the Acto Central, a masterfully choreographed spectacle of folkloric song and dance in one of the world’s largest open-air performances. Wowing 40,000 enthusiastic fans gathered in an outdoor amphitheater and surrounding hills, the Acto Central is as beautiful as it is symbolic. Over a thousand performers use music, movement and Broadway-worthy costumes to artfully explain the history of Mendoza and the relationship between man and nature when harvesting grapes into wine. Due to its popularity, the Acto Central is repeated three times.
The opening-night performance is followed by the highly anticipated crowning of the Vendimia Queen, while the repetition acts have musical performances from notable bands. All evenings conclude with an impressive firework finale. La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia is an exciting time to visit Mendoza because it offers travelers a unique opportunity to experience the region’s rich cultural heritage and world famous wines right alongside the locals.
Nora Walsh is Travel + Leisure's Latin America correspondent.