The Festa des Vermar is back for its annual season of fun-filled grape activity. The festival, which celebrates the grape harvest, or vermada, is held in Binissalem, a town in the centre of the island, which is known for its production of wine. The lively events of the village last for two weeks, with the most recognisable of the bunch being its famous Gran Batalla de Raim – ‘The Battle of the Grapes’. This year, the grape fight falls on Saturday the 16th of September.
The Festa des Vermar also involves a variety of other events over the fortnight including The Concurs de Trepitjar Raim (a grape treading competition), The Fideus de Vermar (a feast served in the open air) as well as parades, Correfocs (a fire show with mallorca’s beloved dimonis), wine tasting and live music. A festival not to be missed!
The Grape Battle
Similar to Valencia’s ‘Tomatina’, the grape battle involves participants dressing in white and throwing grapes at one another. Each year approximately 10,000 kilos of grapes are launched in this eccentric festival.
It is held after the harvest of the grapes. Annually, hundreds of partakers gather in the municipality and prepare for the battle. The event commences in the town square with the firing of a rocket and finishes only when there is not a single grape to be seen on the floor, reduced merely to mush.
However, do not worry, because the grapes used in this festival are unsuitable to be used in the production of wine and other grape-related products, so this is a great way to make the most of the rejected fruit. Though the battle itself attracts primarily Mallorcan youth, all participants are welcome – and if you don’t fancy getting yourself dirty, then there are plenty of other activities to involve yourself in.
Another highlight of the weekend is the grape treading competition which proves to be very entertaining for both competitors and watchers. Those who wish to put themselves up for the challenge are paired up. The aim is to get as much juice from the barrel of grapes as possible in a time frame of three to four minutes. The pairs must be barefoot and hold each other’s shoulders.
Fideus de Vermar
The Fideus de Vermar is also a prominent part of the Festa des Vermar. It is a traditional dish cooked with fideu noodles, lamb, spices and of course this cannot be enjoyed without a glass of wine. The meal is held outside in the city’s main square and really joins the community together.
The Parade of Carrosses
One of its most captivating events of the Festa de Vermar is the Parade of Carrosses, which are beautifully decorated floats pulled through the village streets. Each cart showcases a unique theme, often paying tribute to the island’s history, culture or the grape harvest itself.
Participation in the parade is a community affair, involving months of planning and decorating. Various groups and organisations take on the task of designing and building their carrosses, using materials ranging from fresh flowers to intricate woodwork. Young Mallorcans usually ride the floats, singing, drinking and dancing to both traditional and modern music.
Traditional performances will also occur over the course of the festival as well as wine tasting competitions and so much more. The festival holds the standard of community and enthusiasm, incorporating local culture and produce into its celebrations.
The History of Binissalem’s Grape Festival
The town of Binissalem, with its population of around 8,000, is usually fairly quiet. However, each year the grape festival rolls around, Binissalem comes alive for the festivities.
The Festa des Vermar has been celebrated since the 18th Century, though the area has been making wine for thousands of years before this. It is estimated that the production of wine in Mallorca, and Binissalem, dates back to roughly a hundred years before Christ. Even under Arab rule Mallorca continued to make wine, showing the importance of grapes in Mallorcan agriculture which prove to be a very integral part of Mallorca’s current identity. Mallorca used to cultivate more than 40,000 hectares of land but an unfortunate insect invasion was detrimental to its production and today, only about 2,500 hectares are used.
The region of Binissalem is acclaimed for its vineyards and has received recognition internationally with the ‘Denominació d’Origen Binissalem’, a very prestigious classification. The soil itself is rich in limestone and provides the perfect environment for winemaking, producing a variety of wine types.
It is very common in Binissalem to pass down vineyards through families. The wine festival is an important part of the town’s cultural identity and aside from the annual festival, Binissalem provides wine trails and tasting experiences all year round, a very important part of their tourism.
This year’s events kicked off on the 6th of September and will continue through the month of September and even into October. Below are some highlights of the festival.
The festival has also set out some rules, please read them and be respectful of the area.
2023 Festa de Vermar Event Schedule
How to Get to Binissalem
Train: The island’s train link gives fairly easy access to Binissalem. You can take any of the three trains: Mallorca’s T1 to Inca, T2 to Sa Pobla and T3 to Manacor from Palma to arrive at the town. From the other way, if you get the train at Inca, Manacor, Sa Pobla or any of its other stops, you can arrive at Binissalem.
Car: From Palma, Binissalem is a 30-minute drive along the Ma-13. Being in the centre of the island, it is not too difficult to get to if you are coming from other towns around Mallorca too.
Binissalem’s Many Wineries
Make sure to keep an eye out for D.O. Binissalem’s wineries, many of which are located in Binissalem itself, over the course of the festival and support them by grabbing a glass, or if you prefer, the whole bottle.