Folium: The World’s Messiest Festivals via WhenOnEarth

Image via

Image via

Folium: The World’s Messiest Festivals via WhenOnEarth

Have you ever wondered what the world’s messiest festivals are? There are about a dozen or more held annually throughout the world. Some involve oranges, tomatoes, turnips, pastry, mud, clay, colored power, charcoal, pillows, wine, black oil, water, garbage, and dead rats. I am all about adventure but traveler beware. You had better make sure before you make your next travel arrangements whether or not these festivals will be taking place during your visit and if you would want to be a part of the festivities.

Let us start with Spain where they have more than their share of messy festivals. There is La Merengada which is a pastry war that takes place in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain. It is held every year during the Lenten season. What started out as a kids game has evolved to include adults because it is so much fun. They fill pastry bags with meringue and cream to spray people with. It takes place for six days in February. During this time there are lots of parades and bands playing Spanish music. The actual food fight is on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and lasts all day.

Next is the famous La Tomatina festival held in Bunol, Spain. The festival is a week long with parades and bands leading up to the tomato fight. The tomato fight is held the last Wednesday in August where the town trucks in over 150,000 tomatoes. The night before the festival there is a paella cooking contest. The actual fight is only about an hour long. Before 2013 you could just show up and participate but because of this festivals popularity it has become overcrowded. You now must have a ticket to enter. They have limited the festival to 20,000 participants. No ticket, no entry. There are some rules to be aware of. You must squish the tomato before throwing it, no glass bottles allowed, and safety goggles and gloves are recommended.

For the past five hundred years on September 6th in Baza in Andalucia Spain, they have been celebrating what is called the Feria de Cascamorras. People will douse themselves with black oil and paint. Once covered in the oil and paint, they attack the “Cascamorras” that intend to steal the Virgin Mary Statue. If visiting this town you will see black hand prints or black finger prints throughout the town from this festival. I am not sure how safe it is to have black oil and paint thrown all over yourself but, it is a tradition that these townspeople enjoy doing every year.

Here is a festival that does not sound appealing to me at all. It is called the Entroida or The Entrance. Held in Galicia Spain every year before Lent. They have costumed men who raid the streets and whip people, lift womens skirts and enter houses stealing food. Following this wonderful celebration, the townspeople then have a mud fight. They take pieces of cloth, soak it in mud, ash and dirt to throw at you.

In El Puig Spain, on the last Sunday in January they celebrate the Batalla de Ratas. It starts out with the locals gathering at the main square to bash the cucañas which is like a piñata. Centuries ago the cucañas were filled with fruits, veggies, nuts and goodies. Today, however, it is filled with dead rats. How and when that custom changed is probably a whole other article. The locals than proceed to throw dead rats at each other. Recently this festival has been banned by authorities due to animal cruelty and health issues but locals refuse to let this tradition end and will still continue to hold the event each year.

Every year in January in Piornal Spain 15,000 turnips arrive for the annual Jarramplas Festival. Do you know what they do with these turnips? Well, they choose a local boy to dress up in horned head gear, a brightly colored but thick padded costume and he is to parade through the town banging a drum to let the locals know of his whereabouts and they proceed to throw turnips at him. According to legend it symbolizes the driving away of evil. I am just glad my son does live there. It sounds little like the Hunger Games…

Are you a wine lover? Than maybe this is a festival you would be interested in. It is called La Batalla de Vino de Haro. It is held every year on June 29th in La Rioja, Spain. This festival starts the night before and goes all night long. It is in celebration of St. Peters Day. Be prepared to have lots of red wine to drench people with. The town brings in water trucks filled with red wine for the townspeople. It is recommend to come with water guns and buckets. Usually people wear white tee shirts and red scarfs and by the end of the festival everyone’s cloths are pink and purple. What makes this festival sound even more enjoyable is they have wine drinking competitions.

Other messy festivals throughout the world include Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea held every year in July. Holi in India is considered the most colorful festival where people throw colored powered on each other to celebrate the departure of evil. There is the battle of the oranges in Ivrea, Italy celebrated on the first Sunday in March. It is a re-enactment of a thirteenth century riot. 500,000 oranges are brought in to be hurled at the townspeople. Visit Thailand on April 13th, 14th and 15th and be prepared for a water fight celebrating the New Year. My favorite is the International Pillow Fight held throughout the world. It is my favorite because it is celebrated every year on my birthday April 2nd. Usually this festival takes place in bigger cities though like Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, New York, Amsterdam, and Zurich. How cool that a festival like that brings the world together. I might have to celebrate that one in Central New York this year.

Festivals can be fun and exciting. I got to experience Mardi Gras in Nice, France back in 1994. It was so much fun but I was not prepared for the silly string and the toy hammers bonking me on my head all night. Traditions are celebrations that bring people together. Ask someone from another country what Halloween is and I bet they probably would not know. Try explaining it to a foreign exchange student and it sounds kind of silly. Festivals are usually something you have to experience to fully understand. Plan a trip somewhere and experience a festival in your lifetime.

[ED. Follow all of the links below for GREAT PICTURES and VIDEOS of these festivals!]

Kristine Schanzenbach
LEAF Contributor


Creative Commons LicenseThe LEAF Project
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0