Who says it’s wrong to play with your food?

Never mind what your mother says, consider these festivals where you can be frivolous, juvenile and downright childish

By Sharron Livingston, May 10, 2012
La Tomatina

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

Where: Buñol, Valencia , Spain

When: A week long celebration culminating with a squashed tomato fight on the last Wednesday of August

What: There is no reason for this event other than pure fun.

La Tomatina started in 1945 when a food fight among friends broke out in the streets. They enjoyed it so much that they repeated it again the next year and every year since then. The event just grew until the holiday was banned during the period under Franco for having no religious significance. It started again in the 1970s after his death.

Grape throwing, Spain

Grape throwing, Spain

Why: If you have ever wanted to throw a squashed tomato at anyone, here's your chance.

Be part of the madness where 30,000 people come together to hurl 90,000 tomatoes at each other, but there is a distinct order to the chaos.

The first event starts at 11 am. A ham is placed upon a cockaigne pole (a large, greased pole), and the tomato fight begins once someone is able to climb to the top and bring it down.

People compete with each other, climbing over one another, in order to be the one to pull down the ham. With this victory, a cannon is fired to signal the beginning of the fight and then it's every man for himself. It only lasts for an hour, but this will probably be the funniest hour you will have all year.

Getting there:

The nearest airport is at the coastal town of Valencia around 40km from Buñol. Easyjet fly from London Stansted, London Gatwick and Bristol. Ryanair fly from London Stansted, Liverpool, East Midlands and Dublin. Clickair operate from London Heathrow. Iberia fly from London Heathrow. Arrange your accommodation in Valencia and make the trip to Buñol for the day of the tomato battle. Trains set off from Valenica's Estacio de Nord every hour and the trip takes around 55 minutes.

Other food fights
around the world:

chinchilla melon festival

Where: Chinchilla, Australia

When: Every two years. The next one is due 14-17 February 2013

What: A festival where participants ski, slip, slide and even bungy into squashed melon.

WhY: The city is famed as the 'Melon Capital' of Australia as it produces a quarter of the country's melons.

The festival is a celebration of this.

The sking is hilarious as people squish their feet into watermelons using them as skiis and slide down a course of soap and melon gunk.

Later visitors can also eat the stuff at the food halls.

Battle of the Oranges

Where: Ivrea, north-east Italy

When: End of February

What: This is a three-day orgy of orange-throwing insanity

Why: It is part of an ancient six-day carnival that attracts 100,000 spectators and 4,000 participants, wearing floppy red bonnets and tucking into plates of beans ladled out from caudrons in the town square.

WhY: The festival stems from the 19th century when rebellious commoners defiantly threw away food the feudal lord had given them. These days it is a battle between the hundreds of 'commoners' on the ground and guards in nine combat carriages, who throw oranges at each other.

cheese rolling festivalS

Where: Chester, Gloucester, Stilton, UK

When: April, May and June
WhAT: Cheese makers roll balls of cheese down hills
WHY: No one knows how this competition started, but they say this English eccentricty dates back to Roman times. Incidentally, Cheshire cheese is one of the oldest in the world. It is said it was originally made in a mould shaped like a cat, which later became famous as the smiling Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. The competition entails pushing blocks of cheese down a hill, around an obstacle, in relays of three. Local cheesemakers vie against each other to become the cheese rolling champion. The event is so popular that Stilton are campaigning to turn cheese rolling into an Olympic sport.

custard pie championship

Where: Coxheath, Kent, UK

What: Participants throw custard pies at each other

WHY: The inspiration for this charity event came from a Charlie Chaplin comedy, Behind The Screen. Fully grown adults, dress up in fancy dress and hurl custard pies at each other.

They are awarded points for throwing a pie squarely in their opponent's face and extra points for the most original and amusing throwing techniques. Participants get to throw five pies in the first heat, seven in the semi-finals and a maximum of ten pies in the final.

Grape Throwing Fiesta

Where: Binissalem, Mallorca

When: Last weekend of September

WhAT: Grapes are used as missiles

Why: The grape growing season ends with thousands of people following a piper to the fields. Once there, everyone pelts the grapes that never made it into the wine at each other.

Last updated: 4:13pm, June 6 2012