The world’s messiest festivals

Happy Holi! The festival of colours makes our list of the messiest celebrations around. Dive in!

Peter Moore
17 March 2014

1. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

Originally conceived as a marketing ploy to publicise the local mud-based cosmetics, the Boryeong Mud Festival has taken on a life of its own, with 2.2 million descending on the town to drink and wrestle in the mud. The festival lasts for two weeks, but festival veterans concur that the last week is the best time to sample the mud pools, mud slides and mud skiing competitions.

When: 18-27 July 2014

2. La Tomatina, Spain

Arguably, the world’s most famous messy festival, La Tomatina turns the streets of Buñol into a river of tomato ketchup. Around 45 tonnes of overripe tomatoes are shipped in as ammunition and over 20,000 participants spend an hour pelting each other with the nearest tomato to hand. A quick blast from water hoses signals the end.

When: Last Wednesday of August (27 August 2014)

3. Batalla del Vino, Spain

The Battle of the Wine takes place every year in Haro, a small town in La Rioja, one of Spain’s major wine-producing regions. Thousands of people turn out in the streets with plastic jugs, botas (leather bags filled with wine) or whatever they have handy and they squirt each other with wine until everyone is soaked.

Depending on how much you’ve drunk rather than squirted, you can run to the plaza and dance traditional dances. Or pass out in a doorway.

The town is famous for its red wine. So don’t wear your favourite white shirt.

When: 29 June (St. Peter’s Feast Day)

4. Carnevale d’Ivrea (Oranges), Italy

In Ivrea, a town in the Piedmont region of Italy, they like their food fights a little more hardcore. None of this soft squishy tomato based combat for them. They use oranges.

Ivrea is divided into nine teams given a mission to attack each other. Oranges can leave a mark, so wear a red cap to let the locals know that you are just there to watch. If you want to join in the action, all you need to is volunteer. It’s certainly one way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C.

When: Shrove Tuesday, 17 February 2015

5. World Championship Punkin Chunkin, Delaware

A pumpkin throwing contest – and oh, so much more. It all began with a bet between four friends to determine who can throw a pumpkin the furthest. Since 1986 it has blossomed into an annual festival that happens a week after Halloween.

20,000 attendees flock to Sussex County to test their muscles or assemble apparatus to chuck the pumpkin the farthest, leaving a trail of orange-hued destruction.

Have you got what it takes to be crowned Lord of the Gourd?

When: 24-26 October 2014

6. Holi, Festival of Colours, India

The colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima. Participants light bonfires, throw coloured powder at each other, and celebrate wildly.

If you’ve ever wondered what you’d look like if you were blue… or green… or yellow… or pink… or a combination of each, this is the festival for you.

When: End of February, early March (17 March 2014)

7. Songkran, New Year, Thailand

Thailand welcomes Songkran, or the Thai New Year, with massive water fights. Originally, the tradition involved sprinkling a small amount of water on someone’s hand to pay respects. Now visitors and locals use buckets, water guns, garden hoses, and elephants to splash water at other people.

When: 17 March 2014

8. Monkey Buffet Festival, Lopburi Province, Thailand

Each year in November thousand of kilos of fruit and a few soft drinks are laid out at the Pra Prange Sam Yot Temple in Loburi Province, Thailand for the local macaque monkeys. The monkeys’ poor table manners and a naturally fractious demeanor result in one of the messiest festivals of all.

Another food fight, but this time involving monkeys. What’s not to like?

When: 25 November, 2014

9. Clean Monday Flour War, Galaxidi, Greece

The day preceding Greek Orthodox lent is known as Clean Monday in Greece. The townsfolk of Galaxidi, however, are a contrary lot, and celebrate it with a huge flour war, flinging up to 3,000 kilos of of the white stuff at each other.

Locals get ready for the day-long flour fight by dying bags of flour, covering buildings with tarps, and of course buying goggles and face masks. You should too.

When: The day before Greek Orthodox Lent (22nd February 2015)

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