It's mid September in La Rioja and that means it's time for the Festival of San Mateo! This grape harvest festival lasts a week with shops shutting down, no school, work holidays, and lots and lots of wine. The week is filled with live music, dancing, parades, bull-running, grape stomping, wine tasting, markets, and traditional food.
Logroño, as capital of La Rioja region, goes all-out for San Mateo. Saturday morning, when the festivities started, the city was inundated with people wearing the red or blue traditional neckties and carrying wineskins. Parties lasted until the next day and firecrackers were randomly shot off for 24 hours. I watched most of the festivities from my apartment on my computer, since it was a little too much for my liking to be down in the middle of it all. I walked down to the main plaza later in the day and took some photos, had a glass of wine, and people-watched; but it didn't take long for my introvert self to seek the comfort of my apartment and the relatively quiet neighborhood I live in. ;)
I plan to go to the artisan markets this week and a wine and food tasting, but I'll leave the bull-runs for others. The atmosphere in the streets is intoxicating though, as people are out and about enjoying their holiday with family and friends. Most shops have signs (even the buses have them) that say ¡Feliz San Mateo! and give their opening hours (if any) for the week.
While I'm enjoying being in Logroño for the fiestas, I'm happy to be living a good 20 mins walk from the center of the city as it provides some escape from the street parties and the noise. The amount of people here for the festival is staggering, at one point I couldn't see the end of the mass of people dancing in the street- it just kept going. Unfortunately last night there was a huge downpour and there has been some flash-flooding which has put a damper on the festivities, but I'm sure it won't last for long.
It's definitely a cool experience and if you're a wine lover- this is the time to come visit Logroño. :)
Video of the start of the week long festivities of San Mateo in Logroño. There were over 40,000 people (according to the announcer) packed into the Ayuntamiento plaza and surrounding streets (i.e. why I was watching it from my apartment) ;)
An aspiring polyglot and globetrotter, an avid reader, and a lover of good food. :)