Now that the warm weather has started to show its face, it won’t be long before our days are filled with barbeques and water fights. Water fights tend to go hand in hand with food fights - which got me thinking about what food throwing festivities are going to take place throughout the year. Here’s a run down of the wildest, messiest and most creative food fight festivals around the world.
Where? Buñol, near Valencia, Spain (and now there are also copycat La Tomatina festivals in Sutamarchan, Colombia and Reno, Nevada, USA)
When? 28 August 2013
What is thrown? Tomatoes... in case you didn’t guess
Why? Nobody knows for sure who started La Tomatina. However, the story goes that a bunch of guys trying to get involved in a local parade started a mock brawl in the crowd. There was a fruit stand at hand and the rest is history. The police had to break it up, so the boys came back on the exact same day the next year. The police broke it up again and again, but every year the tradition gained momentum until the townspeople campaigned for the participants' release from jail. Seeing how popular the festivities had become and how much it meant to the locals, it was made official and has occurred ever since.
What exactly goes down? It’s almost impossible to talk about world food fight festivals without mentioning this one. La Tomatina is fast finding its way onto every travel lover’s itinerary or bucket list, and if you’ve been, it’s easy to understand why. There is nothing quite like it in the world.
Several trucks dump about 40 tons of cheap, crushed, specially grown tomatoes. Goggles are recommended, because things are about to get messy! The fight lasts one hour, during which time the town is literally painted red. After another gunshot, it’s time for a mass hose down. While fire engines blast down the streets, you can use the hoses of the kind locals to wash yourself down.
The Battle Of The Oranges
Where? Ivrea, Northern Italy
When? 1 – 4 March 2014
What is thrown? Oranges
Why? Legend has it that a tyrannical ruler once attacked a young woman (now called “Violetta” or “the miller’s daughter”) on the night before her wedding; but she cut off his head and the people rose up in anger and stormed the palace. The battle now takes place with oranges instead of stones and fire and the French Army are also represented as bad guys (after their occupation of Italy), but the gist is the same: a citywide battle.
What exactly goes down? The Battle of the Oranges is the biggest food fight in Italy and is their answer to Spain’s La Tomatina. Replace tomatoes with oranges and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Everyone separates into nine different teams and the combat begins, with most of the best action taking place on the old bridge and in the small alleyways between buildings. After the festival you can watch the river run orange with exploded citrus.
Batalla del Vino
Where? Haro, La Rioja, Spain
When? 29 June 2013
What is thrown? Wine
Why? For Patron Saints Peter and Paul (San Pedro y San Pablo)
What exactly goes down? First grapes, now wine. The Batalla del Vino, or Wine Battle, is only a small part of the Haro Wine Festival in La Rioja - a region of Northern Spain that is famous for its impeccable range of wines. It also includes wine drinking contests, a procession following the Mayor on horseback to the cliff top Hermitage of San Felices de Bilibio, Mass, (amateur) bullfights and celebrations in the Plaza de la Paz. The wine throwing fight takes place at noon and the dress code is white shirts and red scarves.
Where? Ibi, Alicante, Spain
When? 28 December 2013
What is thrown? Flour and eggs
Why? There seems to be a theme occurring here. The Spanish obviously just love throwing food at each other, Luckily, Holiday-n-Adventure run their trademark World Festival Holidays, including many tours of Spain. It’s a tradition dating back over two centuries and is part of the Day of the Innocents festivities, which remembers King Herod’s massacre of the boys of Bethlehem in an attempt to assassinate a young Jesus Christ and protect his throne.
What exactly goes down? The festival lasts all day and includes fancy dress, re-enactments, street musicians, a “Race for Mayor”, dancing and finally the main event for us food fight fanatics: an all-out eggs and flour bomb war, complete with fireworks overhead.
Where? Berlin, Germany
When? To be confirmed. It was always the last Sunday in July, but nowadays it can pop up any time at short notice
What foods are thrown? It used to be eggs, flour, water and fruit, but progressively it has become rotten food and even dirty nappies. Anything and everything goes really, as the aim is to put off the opposition. The more disgusting, the better!
Why? This crazy food and water fight grew out of the historical rivalry between two proud Berlin neighbourhoods: Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. For many, the battle represents a "peaceful" exercise of protest between the Bohemian and “Conformist” quarters.
What exactly goes down? Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg are separated by a river and it is on the Oberbaumbrucke – the bridge across the river – where the action takes place. Expect to see hand-crafted suits of armour, bin-lid shields and foam swords. Also expect to smell decomposing fish, and sometimes worse. The only rule is that whatever is thrown has to be either cooked or rotting, or both - but don’t expect this rule to be followed by everyone. Berliners can fight dirty when they have to.
In recent years the official food fight has been cancelled due to fears of overcrowding on the bridge, but if you're visiting Berlin this summer, keep an eye out because you never know when it might pop up again.
World Custard Pie Championship
Where? Coxheath, Kent, United Kingdom
When?1 June 2013
What food is thrown? Custard pies
Why? Because Charlie Chaplin did it
What exactly goes down? For those of you based in the UK, this is the local food fight festival! Now held in the Kentish village of Coxheath, where it first originated almost half a century ago, the World Custard Pie Championship is unique from the other food fight festivals in that you can sign up as a team and compete for the title. Teams consist of four people and it costs £10 per person to enter. Teams from all over the world are set to throw over 3,000 custard pies in just one day.