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9 Bizarre Food Festivals From Around the World

La Tomatina, Spain

The biggest food fight, and arguably the biggest waste of vegetables, in the world is about to begin! La Tomatina is held on the last Wednesday of August every year in Bruñol, Spain. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world travel to this quaint, Spanish town to hurl overripe tomatoes at each other during this bizarre food festival.

Three young women covered in tomatoes at La Tomatina food festival in Spain.

Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe this food festival. According to tradition, the truckloads of tomatoes dumped in the centre of town are not to be thrown until someone climbs a greased up pole and grabs a ham. People still try to reach the highly coveted ham, but fellow festival-goers no longer wait for this to happen to begin. The new signal to begin pelting overripe vegetables at strangers is the firing of water cannons.

After an hour of covering everyone and everything in tomatoes the fight ends. No more tomatoes can be thrown and the clean up begins. Firetrucks are used to clean the streets and the food fighters rinse in a river. Or if they are lucky they might get a rinse off by a local with a hose.

A group of young people covered in Tomatoes at La Tomatina food festival in Spain

Tickets to the festival are limited to 20,000 so get in early to book your spot in next years battle of the tomato!

Chinchilla Melon Festival, Australia

A pile of watermelon slices

If you’re not sure what your strengths are when it comes to competing with food, there’s no better place to find out than the Chinchilla Melon Festival. For four days a year, this rural Australian town hosts the world’s biggest watermelon festival.

There is a Watermelon Dash For Cash, for those who want to carry a large melon while running long distances. There’s melon skiing, where your skis are watermelons you shove your feet inside. There’s a melon bungy, which is kind of like a tug of war, but with four people, standing on a slippery watermelon covered black plastic, trying to reach their watermelon. For the true watermelon warrior, there is even a watermelon ironman/ironwoman obstacle circuit. If athletics aren’t your thing there is the watermelon eating competition as well as a seed spitting comp.

Bessieres Easter Egg Festival, France

A seasoned omelette on a plate

Ever heard of the Giant Omelette Brotherhood of Bessieres, nope me either. But every year around Easter time the brotherhood and thousands of spectators, gather in the small French town of Bessieres for a bizarre food festival. Over 15,000 (chicken not chocolate) eggs are whisked up and made into a giant omelette as part of their Easter celebrations.

Gilroy Garlic Festival, USA

A pile of garlic heads.

For 40 years Gilroy Garlic festival goers have been celebrating everything garlic (bad breath and all). There is live music, food stalls (selling all number of garlicky treats), a celebrity chef cook-off, entertainments for kids and even a Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Pageant. For those who like the unusual, there is also garlic ice-cream and cocktails.

Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling, England

Competitors racing down a hill after a wheel of cheese at the Cooper's hill Cheese Rolling

This isn’t a food festival so much as it is a race, but it seems all good food festivals have a bit of healthy food related competition. So it made the list. The concept for the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling is simple. A 9-pound wheel of cheese is rolled down Cooper’s hill, it is given a 1-second head start and then a group of people chase it. Either the person to catch the cheese or the person to make it to the bottom of the hill first wins the cheese.

In 2009, the event was called off due to safety concerns but it still occurs every year… just less officially.

Battle of the Oranges, Italy

People in their battle wear throwing oranges in Italy at the Battle of the Oranges food festival.

This supposed revolt reenactment in the town of Ivrea, Italy is the largest citrus battle in the world! Preparing for battle, the townspeople divide into 9 different teams. They all dress in their battle outfits and head to the (designated) streets of Ivrea to fight. They lug thousands of oranges at each other in a bid to (symbolically) kill the other teams before one of the team’s generals ends the fight. Oranges, not being as soft as tomatoes, do a bit of damage in the way of bruising.

World Pea Shooting Championship, England

Their second entry into the list, perhaps the Brits weren’t told not to play with their food as children. This particular event was inspired by the peashooters one school principal confiscated from his pupils. Held on the second Saturday of July, this festival sees the world’s best peashooters gathering to essentially spit peas at a target through a variety of fancy straw like vessels.

Noche de Rábanos, Mexico

A scene of carved radishes at the Noche de Rábanos, food festival in Mexico

This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one vegetable carving food festival. The Mexican Noche de Rábanos or Night of the Radishes has been held on December 23rd in the City of Oaxaca for over 100 years. Competitors carve oversized radishes into a variety of scenes. There are different levels to the competition and even children can compete. On average over 100 people sign up to compete, in the reddish carving food festival, for the grand prize of 15,000 pesos.

La Merengada, Spain

Children cover each other in meringue during La Merengada, food festival in Spain

It seems the Spanish just love to throw food at each other, I mean I get it it’s fun. Their second entry to the list is a lot sweeter than the first. In the week leading up to lent, in the coastal Spanish town of Vilanova i la Geltrú, thousands of people gather to throw all number of sweet treats at each other. More than just getting covered in meringue, people also go to this particular food festival for the music, shows and 6 solid days of partying.

There are hundreds of food festivals that didn’t make this list and hundreds more music, art and cultural festivals. Festivals deserve their own bucket list. Pick your favourites then head here to plan your dream festival vacay!

Have you been to a food festival that didn’t make the list? Let us know about it in the comment section below.

Or for more festival inspiration check out our blogs on Burning Man, Day of the Dead and Carnival in Rio.