The 14 Craziest, Dirtiest, Messiest Festivals In The World
By When on Earth, 12 February 2014.
By When on Earth, 12 February 2014.
1. Boryeong Mud Festival
Get dunked in truckloads of “magic” mud in this wild party in Boryeong, South Korea. For two entire weeks in July every year, the streets are flooded with millions of tourists wrestling, rolling, and swimming in gooey grey clay. Boryeong mud is said to have medicinal qualities that rejuvenates the skin, so don’t hold back if someone splatters you with it on the face. [Boryeong Mud Festival website]
2. La Merengada
On the first day of Vilanova i la Geltrú’s Carnival, people rush to the streets armed with pastry bags for a war of meringue and cream. The tradition first started as a children’s game, but the adults couldn’t seem to help themselves and pitched in later on. If you’re visiting this Spanish town in Lenten season, be warned: the fight doesn’t end till dessert that night.
3. La Tomatina
Arguably, the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina engages over 20,000 people each year in a riotous vegetable war in the small Spanish town of Bunol on the last Wednesday of August each year. Around 150,000 tomatoes are trucked in for ammunition in this hour-long fight that literally paints the town red. [La Tomatina website] [More]
The most colourful festival on Earth that originated in India is now celebrated in the US and UK just because it’s so pretty. Traditionally in Holi, Hindu priests hurl coloured water and flowers over the crowds to celebrate the departure of evil and the triumph of good. Revellers take to the streets and spill abir (coloured powder) onto the air and onto their neighbour's faces.
5. Battle of the Oranges (Battaglia delle Arance)
The story goes something like this. Back in the old days, the lord of Ivrea tried to rape a young girl at the eve of her wedding. But before he had the chance, the girl chopped off his head and the whole town celebrated. The Battle of the Oranges tries to re-enact the wild riot against the 13th century tyrant and his henchmen - but instead of guns and swords, oranges are the weapon of choice. The town divides itself into 9 combat squads to engage in a full-on fruit war that lasts for three entire days, hurling some 500,000 oranges in an attempt to “kill” their neighbours. The battle is waged in the town square of the Italian town of Ivrea starting every first Sunday of March.
6. La Batalla de Vino de Haro (Haro Wine Fight)
Every year on June 29, the townspeople of La Rioja celebrate St. Peter’s Feast Day by bathing in tens of thousands of litres of wine in the Haro Wine Festival. The days starts with a procession early in the morning, followed by a mass on a chapel in the mountain. After the mass, all hell breaks loose with everyone spraying, splashing, and showering each other with wine. The party won’t stop till 5 AM the next day.
7. Feria de Cascamorras
In the town of Baza in Andalucia, Spain, in an oily stampede known as the Feria de Cascamorras, thousands of locals douse themselves with black oil and paint before they attack the “Cascamorras” who intends to steal the statue of the Virgin Mary. The whole town chases and wrestles with the offender, pours paint on him and throws him in the air, preventing him by all means to get close to the statue. The slippery brawl has been happening every year 6th of September for the past 500 years.
At the hottest time of the year, the whole of Thailand erupts with the biggest water fight in the world - the Songkran Festival. In this three-day New Year celebration falling on April 13, 14 and 15, everyone is armed with water guns and buckets, ready to splash at the next unsuspecting victim. Some even roam the streets on scooters and pick-up trucks drenching their prey with ice-cold water. If someone sprays at you, getting angry will not help at all. If you’re in the streets during Songkran, that’s enough to make you fair game.
9. International Pillow Fight Day
April 2 is World Pillow Fight Day, and everyone on Earth is encouraged to proceed to their town square to whack other people with a pillow. Some rules apply though: you must hit only those armed with pillows, never hit a photographer, and use only the soft kind (feather pillows are great for dramatic effect). The biggest pillow fights happen in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, London, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and Zurich.
Literally “water fight,” Berlin’s dirty blitzkrieg often turns into a Gemüseschlacht (food fight) and escalates even further into a Müllschacht (garbage fight). Residents of two proud neighbourhoods Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg (now administratively unified) wage war to determine the king of the new-born district. The battle starts out as a nasty water fight until flour, eggs, and even rotten fruits and vegetables begin to rain down on either side. There are reports that even salted herring and dirty diapers are being used as projectile.
11. Clean Monday Flour War
Quite ironically, the townsfolk of Galaxidi, Greece make the biggest mess of the year on a day called “Clean Monday”. To cap off Carnival season and celebrate the start of Lent, people cover their faces in black charcoal and throw large quantities of flour at each other. They say it takes days to clean up the streets after the affair.
12. Jarramplas Festival
We got festivals that let us throw mud, food, and flour at each other, but none of those inflict as much pain as turnips. So imagine what manner of hell a young man has to go through when he gets picked to be El Jarramplas for that year’s Jarramplas festival. The costumed “devil” has to march around town banging a loud drum to attract the attention of hundreds of villagers and tourists ready to attack him with rock-hard turnips. Every year in January, about 15,000 turnips are shipped for the occasion. Imagine the agony.
In Entroida, a bunch of colourfully costumed masked men raid the streets of the Galicia, Spain, whipping unassuming people from behind, lifting skirts, and entering random houses to steal food. The festivities that follow is a town-wide mud fight or ‘Ragging’ (Farrapada) using pieces of cloth soaked in mud, ash, and dirt to attack other people. It’s all light-hearted fun until you realize the rags were actually spiked with vinegar and a legion of angry fire ants.
14. Batalla de Ratas
As if this ‘dirty festival’ list couldn’t get even dirtier, in the small town of El Puig, Spain, locals throw dead rats at each other in the Batalla de Ratas (or Battle of the Rats) festival. Townsfolk first gather in the main square to bash cucañas, the local version of a piñata. Back in the days, the cucañas used to contain fruits, nuts, and other natural goodies, which were often attracted rats. On the day of the festival, the cucañas are cracked, raining rodents on the surprised crowds below. Nowadays, the cucañas are simply filled with frozen dead rats, which are then tossed around for fun. Eventually authorities banned the practice for the sake of health and animal rights issues, but the townsfolk refused to give in and fought to keep their centuries-old tradition, no matter how gross.
Top image: World Pillow Fight Day in New York 2011. Credit: Amazur/Wikimedia Commons.
[Source: When on Earth. Edited. Top image and some links added.]