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Caravaca de la Cruz Running of the Wine Horses

The Running of the Wine Horses is a fantastic fiesta to attend, it takes place on the same day every year; the 2nd May. The fiesta, known in Spanish as the ‘Caballos del Vino’ has been declared as being of International Tourist Interest and is a well worth enjoying. It starts on Wednesday 1st May and continues until Sunday 5th May 2019.
 
There are lots of parades, processions and re-enactments aside from the main event of the actual running of the wine horses, which takes place on Thursday 2nd May at 14:00. The programme, in English, for all the major acts is below and there are maps of the parade routes in the brochure at the bottom.
 
Wedbesday 1st May
11:00 Flower Offering Parade including the Moors, Christians and the Wine Horses
16:00 Horse hair contest
21:00 Parade of the Music Bands
22:30 Singing of the traditional Himno a Caravaca followed by Firework display
 
Thursday 2nd May Running of the Wine Horses
07:00 Diana during which the bells are rung and loud firecrackers are let off in the streets.
09:00 Mass in the Templete where all of the Moors, Christians and Wine Horse congregate.
09:30 Parade of the Wine Horses and their Riders
12:00 Parade of the Moors and Christians followed by the Blessing of the Wine.
14:00 Running of the Wine Horses starts and continues until all 60 horses have raced from the town up to the Real Basílica-Santuario de la Vera Cruz.
20:30 Mock battle in the Cuesta del Castillo which the Moors win.
21:00 Parade of the Patron Saint and the Vera Cruz in which the Moors and Christians participate from the Real Basílica-Santuario to the Parroquia de El Salvador.
 
Friday 3rd May
11:30 Grand Children's Parade in which the Moors, Christians and Wine Horses participate
17:15 Solemn Procession during which the Verz Cruz is taken to the Cuesta de la Cruz followed by a magnificent Firework Display.
 
Saturday 4th May
19:30 Grand Parade of the Moors and Christians
 
Sunday 5th May
18:00 Final Procession to return the statue of Nuestra Stma. y Vera Cruz from the Parroquia del El Salvador to the Basilica-Santuario.
00:00 Spectacular Firework display to mark the end of the fiesta.
 
History of the Fiesta
The history of this unique fiesta is absolutely fascinating and is all about the extraordinary story of the True Cross, in Spanish the ‘Verz Cruz’. This fragment of wood is said to have been part of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified and it has protected the city since the 13th century. The presence of the True Cross in Caravaca is the reason for its status as a Holy City, one of only 5 in the world, on par with Rome and Jerusalem. The legend dates back to the days of the Knights Templar, who came to the aid of the townspeople. The invading Moorish army had cunningly poisoned the water supply, which flowed into the besiege town, and many people were dying of thirst, as they couldn’t drink the poisoned water. The only liquid that could be found to drink was wine. So the brave Templer Knights tied flagons of wine to their horses and ran with them up the hill before the Moorish armies realised what was happening, bringing the precious liquid to the townspeople. The Vera Cruz was bathed in the wine and miraculously the sick and wounded were healed. Today, to commemorate this happening 60 horses are dressed in spectacular embroidered cloaks and run up the hill to the sanctuary one by one, in a race against the clock. It can be extremely exciting, as the streets are packed with onlookers who part to allow the horses to rush past just centimetres away! Prizes are awarded for both the fastest horses and those with the most exceptional embroidery.