INTRODUCTION Thousands of people turned out in Mendoza, Argentina on Sunday (6 March) for the traditional ceremony which marks the start of grape harvesting.
INTRODUCTION Thousands of people turned out in Mendoza, Argentina on Sunday (6 March) for the traditional ceremony which marks the start of grape harvesting. The event is rapidly becoming a major tourist attraction, encouraged by the government which needs all the foreign currency it can get.
SYNOPSIS: Argentina's one of the world's largest exporters of wine, and 50 percent of it comes from the Mendoza province.
The harvesting festival has become a traditional event, and celebrations take place over a week. Officials estimate they cost about 500,000 U.S. dollars to stage, but they attract thousands of tourist from Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. The festival was begun by the first European immigrants who settled in the region centuries ago.
The residents spend several weeks preparing the colourful floats and the parade stretches for several kilometres (miles) throughout Mendoza city. Musicians from Mendoza and other provinces give performances - and of course everybody drinks some of the results of previous years' harvests.
The highlight of the celebrations for many people is the annual contest to find a grape harvest queen. The contestants parade through the streets on floats.
Each region throughout the province sends a girl to represent them.
The contest is decided after an exciting display of fireworks at the city's ampitheatre.