Who’s up for a good food fight, mud roll or wine bath in the name of cross-cultural enlightenment? We all need to get down and dirty some times, and these traditional mess fests are the perfect excuse. You get to immerse yourself (quite literally) in the local color and culture while tapping into your inner child at the same time. Here are a dirty dozen messiest festivals around the world that will generate a lot of fun – and laundry.
1. La Tomatina, Spain
The Valencian town of Buñol hosts the most famous food fight of all. On the last Wednesday in August, some 20,000 locals and tourists gather in the central square to toss 150,000 ruby ripe tomatoes at each other until the town is painted red. You’ll be covered head to toe in tomato puree and sloshing ankle-deep in the soupy mess. After half an hour or so, the local firetrucks turn on the hoses to wash the evidence away. There are a few copycat tomato festivals around the world (in Reno, Nevada and Sutamarchan, Colombia) but this saucy one is the original.