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We’ve all heard of the La Tomatina festival in Spain, where more than 40,000 people literally paint the town red by pelting anyone and everyone with squishy, oozy fresh tomatoes.

1. Meringue Wars and Candy Fight, Spain

But while this year’s event on August 29 promises to be as chaotic as ever, we got to thinking about other epic food battles across the world – where playing with one’s food isn’t just encouraged, it’s required.
The Spanish, in fact, don’t just throw tomatoes. There’s food-fight festival for grapes, wine, egg and flour – even goat throwing (we’re not kidding). But we think the Carnival de Vilanova i La Geltrú really takes the cake.

Held annually in the beautiful sideside town, in the province of Barcelona, Spain’s sweet celebration begins on February’s ‘Fatty Thursday’, the last Thursday before Lent, with a meringue-flinging fight. Bakeries offer up free whipped-egg-white-filled pies to the local children to use as ammunition, and trust us, nobody is safe. The food-themed fun continues over the following days with the Batalla de Caramellos, the carnival’s Candy Wars – a sweet-tooth’s dream. About 90,000kg of food, mostly candy, but also pies and even cereal, is flung, hurled and catapulted into the streets – and at everyone in them.
This sticky food warfare comes to a close with the ceremonial burial of the sardine, which is a Spanish tradition that marks the beginning of Lent and fasting.

The festival is a source of pride for the town, as it began as a protest against the carnival prohibition that came into force under the Franco regime of 1936-75.After the festivities have concluded, you can swim off your new belly and toothache in the nearby stunning beachtown, Sitges. Or head into the Catalonian capital city and walk all those calories off while marvelling at Gaudi’s weird architectural creations, then dance the night away to flamenco music around Barcelona’s hotspot, La Rambla.
vilanovageltru.com

2. Battle of the Oranges, Italy

Italy’s famous ‘Battle of the Oranges’ (pictured) has thousands of townspeople divide into teams and pelt oranges at each other – sometimes violently! The festival is said to have originated when young girls would throw the fruit from their balcony to gain the attention of young boys they admired (gives a new meaning to a ‘crush’, doesn’t it?). The event takes place each February, 40 days before Lent, in Ivrea, north of Turnin.
visititaly.com

3. Custard Pie Fight, UK

Not just a food fight, the Custard Pie Championship requires skill and strategy. Players earn top points by throwing a pie squarely in the face of their opponents, and lose points if they miss their target. Teams apparently come from all over the world to compete in this competition, which is in its 45th year and takes place each June in the village of Coxheath, Kent.
worldcustardpiechampionship.co.uk

4. Clean Monday, Greece

Don’t be fooled by the name, because this festival is one hell of a dirty affair. Festivalgoers fling fistfuls of dyed flour at one another in this all-out food war that marks the first day of Orthodox Lent, usually in early March. The 200-year-old tradition is held in the Greek town Galaxidi, with the sound of cowbells beginning the battle. The fight ends with many jumping in the sea to wash off, before a big night out in the town’s tavernas.
galaxidigreece.com

5. Wasserschlacht, Germany

Eggs, flour and rotten fruit aren’t the only missiles flung at opponents in this food battle between Berlin districts Friedrichshain and Kruezberg. Since this Great Berlin Food Fight began in 1998 with the mission to scare, intimidate and gross-out their opponents, both teams have now upped the ante by hurling salted herring and – wait for it – even used nappies each July. Yep, you read that right. Perhaps one to miss?
 visitberlin.de/en

 

Image: Getty

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Travel: top five weird and dirty food fight festivals
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