Who hasn’t dreamed of being the first person to bellow “FOOD FIGHT!” and unleash a fury of flying food through uproarious crowds? Though most of us were probably well-behaved enough to resist starting such commotions in polite company, we don’t have to give up our food fight dreams just yet.
Every year, festivals are held around the world with the sole purpose of slinging edible materials at each other and getting as messy as they possibly can. If you have unrealized fantasies about joining in a delicious riot, keep these in mind while you’re planning your next trip!
La Tomatina • Buñol, Spain
Quite possibly the world’s most famous food fight, La Tomatina is held on the last Wednesday of every August in the town of Buñol in Valencia. On the day of the event, trucks rumble into the center of town to drop off an abundance of tomatoes from the Extremadura region in western Spain.
The original idea was that the festival would not begin until a determined volunteer climbed up a two-story tall, greased-up pole and retrieved a ham tied to the top. While hilarious, it ended up taking so long that they changed the start signal to the firing of water cannons. Once the cannons are blasted, the next hour is purely every man for himself.
Once the fighting ends, fire trucks spray down the streets with water supplied by a Roman aqueduct. Conveniently, tomatoes are a natural disinfectant which leaves the town and the participants sparkly clean. La Tomatina is also celebrated in other places such as Sutamarchan, Colombia and Reno, Nevada.
Photo posted by Instagram user @awinchesterx
Setsubun • Japan
The Bean-throwing Festival is celebrated in Japan on February 3 every year to mark the arrival of spring. It is customary to throw roasted soybeans while chanting “In with fortune! Out with evil!” to keep evil forces out of your home. This can be celebrated at home or you can attend public Setsubun events at temples all over Japan, where celebrities are designated as bean throwers. To maximize your good fortune after tossing the beans, eat a roasted soybean for each year of your life, then one more for good health.
Battaglia delle Arance • Ivrea, Italy
Does three days of brutally flinging aging fruit at strangers appeal to you? In the northern town of Ivrea, the Battle of the Oranges is an annual event that commemorates the town’s victory over a 12th century tyrant (the origins are murky, so the exact century may vary by storyteller). Possibly the oldest-known organized food fight in Italy, the town will get together to reenact the battle.
Today, the event has become a game, with players dressing in costumes as guards and commoners; the team of guards catapult their oranges from atop horse-drawn carriages and the nine teams of commoners return fire from the ground. Thousands of spectators and participants flood the streets to join the fun and first aid tents are set up around the piazzas to treat black eyes, bloody noses, and various injuries from slipping on the pulpy carnage.
Photo posted by Instagram user @observadoruy
Els Enfarinats • Ibi, Spain
On December 28 of each year, residents of Ibi take to the streets to celebrate the Day of Innocents. This surreal 200-year old tradition includes participants dressing up in fake military garb and attack in the style of a fake uprising.
Armed with eggs, flour, and (alarmingly) firecrackers, participants separate into groups for the battle; the Els Enfarinats and La Oposicio. The Els Enfarinats are said to declare and enforce ridiculous new laws throughout the day and even collect fines from those who break said laws while La Oposicio try to keep order.
The entire day is spent acting out elaborate scenes of tyranny and oppression that builds into an eventual breaking point. The entire thing culminates in fierce combat in which the players pelt each other with eggs, flour, and (you guessed it) firecrackers. Once all the flour has been thrown, the eggs have been smashed, and the firecrackers have burned out, the apocalyptic-looking battleground is cleaned and the fine money collected by the Els Enfarinats is donated to charity.
Photo posted by Instagram user @amart
La Merengada/Batalla de Caramelos • Vilanova i La Geltrú, Spain
Before Carnival festivities, residents of Vilanova i La Geltrú in Catalonia will start with the “Xatonada,” which is a Lenten meal comprised of fish, salad, and a red pepper sauce. Once the meal is completed, people will go outside to throw meringue at each other. Another fun part of the festival is the wider-practiced tradition of Batalla de Caramelos or “candy fight” which is comprised of launching tons of candy into Carnival crowds while people try to scoop up as much as they can before it is crushed underfoot.
World Custard Pie Championship • Coxheath, England
In the village of Coxheath in Kent, a delightful tradition of creaming each other with custard pies has been exuberantly celebrated since 1967. Mike Fitzgerald, the city councilor credited with starting the championship, said he was inspired by Charlie Chaplin films and caught on as a fundraiser idea for the town.
Teams of four take to the streets with their pies and are awarded points based on where the flying desserts hit members of opposing teams. Each player must throw with their left hand and if your pie completely misses its mark three times, points will be deducted from the team. Recipes for the pies are secret, with the only revealed ingredients including flour and water.
Photo posted by Instagram user @bodeboca
Batalla del Vino • La Rioja, Spain
A land dispute in 13th century La Rioja brought forth the delightful annual tradition of the Wine Throwing Fight. Participants will show up for the Haro Wine Festival every June 29th at 7am. Dressed in all white and lugging buckets, water guns, bota bags, and anything else that can hold as much red wine as possible. When the battle begins, the object is to douse everyone in range. By the time the wine runs out, everyone’s white clothes have turned purple and the soaking crowd is ready for wine that they don’t have to suck out of their shirts.