– Written by Victoria Philpott
Enough of all these high-and-mighty film festivals and overdone music festivals. It’s all about food festivals. And not those la-de-da ones where you walk around tasting food. No, it’s much more fun to throw it. Food fight! So I’ve done a bit of research and found ten of the biggest and best food fights in the world. Let’s get pelting!
1. World Peashooting Championships, Witcham, Cambridgeshire, England
12th July, 2014
Since 1971, when local headmaster Mr. Tyson held the first peashooting competition as a way to fundraise for the village hall, competitors have been coming to Witcham in Cambridgeshire from far and wide to compete. Rules state that you have to shoot a pea through a tube 12 feet towards a 12-inch target. But don’t turn up thinking the spitballs of your schooldays will be enough practise – competitors take this event very seriously. Expect to see some high-tech gear including laser-guided pea shooters and ‘gyroscopic stabilisers’ – no, I don’t know what that means either.
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2. La Tomatina, Buñol, Valencia, Spain
27th August, 2014
No one is safe at this tomato throwing festival. An estimated 125 tonnes of tomato puree is released onto the city for the 45,000 people hurl, throw and dunk each other into. Top tips for avoiding a good pelting include: don’t climb above the crowds as it makes you a prime target, and don’t wear flip flops – have you ever tried staying upright on a ground made of tomatoes? Take our word for it, it’s difficult.
For more information, check out our guide to the Tomatina Festival.
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3. La Raima, Pobla del Duc, near Valencia, Spain
29th August, 2014
– Thank you to Eddie & Brigitte Bramley for the photo
What is it with Spaniards and throwing fruit? Has no one told them you shouldn’t play with your food? La Raima happens on the last Friday of August in the Spanish town of Pobla del Duc. At midday 4 lorries dump around 40 tonnes of local Spanish Garnacha Tintorera grapes and the free-for-all food fight begins. It basically lasts until every last grape has been thrown and every participant is covered in a sticky, sweet purple mess. We don’t recommend wearing your favourite frocks or outfits for this one.
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If one day of grape launching isn’t enough for you then then get down to the Grape Throwing Festival in Binissalem in Mallorca. It’s two weeks long and also includes a grape-treading competition, a huge amount of the delicious Spanish recipe fideua, on top of the grape wars. 28th September, 2014.
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4. Fiesta de San Mateo, La Rioja, Spain
20th – 25th September, 2014
You’ll definitely want to wear some old clothes to this particular food fight. Logrono, the capital of Rioja, becomes a sea of purple during the week surrounding the feast day of Saint Matthew on September 21. The week of celebrations ends in the Batalla del Vino, where the plentiful Rioja wine is the ammunition. Festival goers and naughty wine wasters take aim and end up drenched in a sticky purple, drunk mess.
The festival isn’t all about the wine war though. In the run up you can enjoy the epic parade. You’ll see dancing giants, huge heads, ornate carriages and spirited locals walking the streets in celebration. Indulge in the harvest by drinking endless Rioja and enjoying the regional cuisine.
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5. Setsubun, The Mamemaki Ritual, Japan
3rd February, 2015
Setsubun – known as the Bean-Throwing Festival – is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. Every year Japanese people come together to celebrate what can be described as their New Year’s Eve. The tradition is to carry out a special ritual which involves cleansing away the former year with mamemaki, aka bean throwing.
Traditionally the head of the household throws roasted soybeans out of the door while wearing a special demon-like mask. The rest of the family shouts ‘oni-wa-soto’ (demons out) and “fuku-wa-uchi” (luck in!) and then slams the door. Then they will eat a soybean for each year of their life.
Like many ancient traditions, this practice has faded in individual households in recent years and instead people attend the big events at shrines. Japanese celebrities are often invited to these televised events to throw roasted soy beans, sweets, candies and other prizes and you can see all the spectators scrambling to grab the gifts.
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6. Candy Throwing Fight, Vilanova i La Geltrú, Spain
12th – 18th February, 2015
So, it seems that it’s not just fruit that’s thrown in Spain. In the Catalonian town of Vilanova i La Geltrú, their week long carnival celebrations start on a Tuesday when meringue, supplied by the local bakeries, is used as ammo to pelt anyone and everyone. Sweet!
Then on the Saturday before Shrove Tuesday everyone gathers to catch sweets from the sky. Around 200,000lbs of candy is launched into the crowd, creating a sticky, crunchy and colourful quilt of sugar on the streets. The festival then ends, randomly, with the ceremonial burial of a sardine to mark the beginning of Lent.
Barcelona is the nearest big city. Lucky for you we’ve got loads of cheap hotels in Barcelona.
7. Battle of the Oranges, Ivera, Piedmont, Italy
14th – 17th February, 2015
Wow, this has got to hurt. The Battle of the Oranges is held in the tiny of town of Ivrea, in the Piedmont area of northern Italy and takes place every February. Around 500 tons of oranges are hurled during the three days.
The festival is reported to originate from the 12th century, when the tyrannical lord of the town tried to have his way with a young girl who was to be married the next day. She was able to turn the tables though and instead decapitated the lord, which lead to a town-wide revolt where the townspeople overthrew the evil lord and his followers.
This festival has a very cool revolutionary spark to it, so rather than pelting your fellow orange lobbers, you attack the ‘lords men’ who ride around on floats, cased in suits of armour. Feel free to join in but make sure you take a helmet and goggles (I’ve heard it’s not unusual to see a little blood mixed in with the oranges). If you’d just like to watch, there are spectator areas protected by nets, or you can wear a special red hat that stops you from being a target (though not necessarily from being hit).
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8. Clean Monday Flour War, Greece
23rd February, 2015
March 10th is the first day of Orthodox Lent and it’s also the day of the annual flour war in Greece. For the past 200 years residents and tourists have bombard each other with bags of coloured flour. It’s an incredibly cool sight, all those dusty ghost-like figures moving about in the clouds. In a strange way, it looks attractively apocalyptic…
An estimated 3000lbs of flour is used, so that should give you a clue as to the mess it causes. Make sure you wear goggles and a face mask or you’ll regret it later.
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9. Songkran, Bangkok, Bongkok, Thailand
13th – 15th April, 2015
OK, it doesn’t strictly involve food, but since water’s something you consume and it’s definitely a fight, we’ll keep it in! The annual Songkran Festival in Thailand is the world’s biggest water fight. Hundreds of locals and tourists grab their Super Soakers, fill up, take aim and fire at all and everyone… repeatedly.
The 3-day public holiday marks the passing of the dry season and the start of a new year. For the traditional locals it’s an important spiritual time to soak away the evils of the year gone by and invoke the good feelings of the year to come. For tourists it’s just a chance to drench each other without getting told off.
Although it’s celebrated all over the country, the best spot to party is no doubt Bangkok. Find out more with our guide to Songkran.
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10. Custard Pie Championship, Kent, England
TBA May, 2015
I’ve got a ground-breaking idea for a food festival: why not don your best fancy dress and throw custard pies in your opponent’s faces. What? It’s already been done? Boooo.
In 1967 Councillor Mike FitzGerald wanted to build a village hall and thought to himself, ‘what better way to raise money than with a custard pie throwing championship?’ Someone’s been watching too many Charlie Chaplin comedies if you ask me.
Pass by Coxheath near Maidstone on a weekend in May and you’ll see teams of people covered in the specially made floury mixture. A direct hit to the face scores you maximum points and judges can also award points for the most original or amusing throwing technique too.
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If you love food and have a tasty recipe that can be made in a hostel, why not enter it into our Backpackers Recipe Guide?
Been to any other awesome food fights around the world? Share your experiences in the comments below…
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Thanks to Reno Tahoe, Alfonso Bermejo Garcia, Giò-S.p.o.t.s., Marufish, lentina_x, Prentice Wongvibulsin and Funk Dooby for the excellent images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.