The Best Food Fight Festivals In The World!
Image Credit: Haro Wine Festival

Almost everybody must have heard of food festivals and food challenges. However, few people have heard of food fight festivals. A food fight festival is an event in which large groups of people gather to throw food at each other; the projectiles thrown at these festivals range from fruits to confectionary. The Spanish, in particular, have a liking for such festivals. While most people have heard of Spain’s La Tomatina festival in the Valencia region, most people may not even have the slightest idea that Spain alone has three more food festivals, and Italy, Greece, England, and Japan all have their own food festivals.

Let us look at Spain’s food fight festivals:

1.    La Tomatina: The most famous food fight festival in the world is La Tomatina. The town of Buol (also pronounced Bunyol) in the Valencia region of Spain turns red on the last Wednesday of August every year as thousands of participants from all over the world participate in a harmless battle where more than 100 metric tons of overripe tomatoes serve as ammunition. La Tomatina has been an annual tradition in Buol since 1944 or 1945, when two men involved in a political protest started throwing tomatoes at various people and places throughout the town. These days, the objectives are far less serious and more oriented towards enjoyment. Under dictator Francisco Franco, this festival was banned, but after his demise, it returned in the 1970s. In 1957, this festival became official. Once the fight ends in an hour or two, fire trucks spray the streets down with water from a Roman aqueduct, and the participants wash themselves at the Buol river.

2.    Grape throwing festival: This festival is held annually in the village of Binnissalem on the island of Mallorca (also pronounced Mayorca) off the Spanish east coast. Also known locally as "festa des vermar," it is held annually on the last weekend of September and involves a grape stomping competition and a grape throwing fight. While the origins of this festival are not clear, one prevalent theory is that it originated in the grape harvest season by removing the lower-quality grapes before winter. The village folk, not knowing what to do with these grapes that were unsuitable for wine production, instituted the festival. With daily grape throwing fights and a grape treading competition lasting two entire weeks, participants are sure to get drunk on wine.

3.    Haro Wine Festival: Held each summer in the northern Spanish town of Haro. This festival involves wine drinking competitions and an epic wine battle in which wine is poured on each other from buckets. On the day of the patron saint, San Pedro, the festival begins with a procession of people dressed in white clothes and red scarves carrying many types of containers containing red wine. When this is finished, the wine tossing and drinking can begin. The the festival is held on the 29th of June every year.

4.    Vilanova I La Geltru: The Meringue War, or La Marenga as it is locally known in Spain—signals the beginning of Vilanova I La Geltru, which happens every year on the last Thursday before Lent (a church feast). Schools are shut for the day, and everyone participates in one of the sweetest food fights in the world, wherein candy is thrown at each other by the participants. The actual food fight comments are made after a human-sized sweet is lowered into the crowd. The food fight lasts all day and draws to a close in the evening when participants eat xató salad topped with a nutty garlic sauce, which is a Catalan delicacy.

It’s not just the Spanish that like flinging food at each other in faux fights. There are food fight festivals in other parts of the world as well:

    The Flour War: Every year on the 10th of March, which is the first day of the Greek Orthodox Church’s lent, the village folk of the fishing village Galaxidi in Greece participate in the annual flour war. Bags filled with baked flowers tinted with food coloring are used by participants, both local and foreign, to bombard each other. Approximately 3000 pounds of flour are used, and in order to ensure the participants' safety, protective eyewear and other gear are worn during this fight. Locals also shielded their homes with sheeting before the event. For non-participants, a nearby quay is reserved so that they may watch in relative safety. This tradition comes from a 19th-century Greek act of defiance against the occupying Ottoman Empire.

    World Custard Pie Championship: A brainchild of the famous comedian Charlie Chaplin, this food fight festival started in 1967 as a fundraiser for the village hall in Coxheath, England. Teams of four from all over the country dress identically and throw delicious custard pies at other teams. Points are awarded based on which body parts are hit. A hit with a pie to the face is valued the highest at 6 points. However, points are deducted for misses. The event is so popular all over the world that a team from Japan won the championship in 2016, beating a local team. The recipe for the pies being thrown is a closely guarded secret, with the only known ingredients being flour and water, a nightmarish combination for one’s hair and clothes.

    The Bean Festival: this festival marks the start of the spring season in Japan. Local participants believe that the spiritual ritual of throwing beans (also called mamemaki) can ward off any evil vibes from the previous year. Because of this and its coincidence with the lunar new year, some equate this festival with New Year’s Eve. Roasted soybeans, a sworn enemy of evil spirits, are thrown out of homes onto the streets and sometimes onto family members. Temples all over Japan host the festival, which is locally known as "Setsubun."

    The Battle Of The Oranges: The largest food fight in Italy, the battle of the oranges, is fought between organized groups that throw oranges at each other in the northern Italian city of Ivrea. The origins of this festival are unclear, but one theory is that it commemorates the city’s defiance against its tyrant, Ranieri Di Biandrate. Teams of orange handlers, locally known as "aranceri," throw oranges at other "aranceri" riding in carts. The oranges represent old projectiles thrown at chariot riders in the tyrant's army. Another account states that the oranges are supposed to represent the tyrant's removed testicles. 

With so many food fight festivals, one has no reason not to participate in at least one of them during their travels.Thesefestivals are a big part of the history of the places they come from and are a celebration of culture, freedom and food.