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Top 5 messy festivals

Songkran FestivalImage: Getty

Tamsin Wressell explores just how messy some celebrations can get around the world


Songkran Festival
When: April 13-15 
Where: Thailand

With massive water fights on streets across Thailand, Songkran Festival welcomes in the Thai New Year. Locals and visitors of all ages come armed with buckets, water guns, hoses and even elephants to partake in the revelries. The tradition began by sprinkling water into each other’s hands to wish good luck and pay respects but has since evolved into the world’s largest water fight. The water fights mainly take place on the first day, but parades, ceremonies and other traditions continue for three days throughout the country.

La Tomatina
When: last Wednesday of August
Where: Spain

Over 120 tons of overripe tomatoes are shipped to the small Spanish village of Bunol, 30 minutes from Valencia every August for the world’s largest tomato fight. The juicy ammunition is brought in by the truckload for between 20,000 and 50,000 participants to launch at each other, in honor ofthe town’s patron saints. Starting at 11am and lasting for roughly one hour, the end of the fight is signalled by a blast from water hoses. The festivities continue throughout the week with parades, fireworks and a paella cook-off.

When: End of February, early March
Where: Asia

The festival is most famously known for its day of explosive color. Taking place on a full moon, the celebrations begin with a bonfire on the eve of Holi to mark the start of the spring season. The main event the following day sees people throwing colored powder paint and spraying colored water at each other throughout many parts of Asia, predominantly India, where the festival originated several thousand years ago as a Hindu religious celebration. Bollywood songs, dancing and traditional snacks accompany the ‘festival of color’ to rejoice in the victory of good over evil and the renewal of relationships.

Boryeong Mud Festival
When: July
Where: South Korea

Over two million visitors flock to Daecheon Beach, near Seoul, to play in the mud for what is the focal point of South Korea’s most popular annual festival. Lasting for two weeks in the summer, revelers can sample the mud pools, spa and slides while activities include mud wrestling, mud fights, mud skiing competitions and other mud-related contests. The festival was originally a marketing ploy to publicize local mud-based cosmetics but now includes street parades as well as music and fireworks.

Clean Monday
When: Beginning of Lent
Where: Greece

Taking place on the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox calendar, the small fishing village of Galaxidi, in Greece, holds the ironically named Clean Monday — an event that sees residents hurl over three tons of multi-colored or plain white flour at each other across the town. Since the coloring in the flour is so strong, many buildings are wrapped in plastic to avoid permanently rainbow-hued homes, but no visitor or local is spared. The flour war is teamed with driving rundown cars and dancing through the streets. Fires are lit for warmth, however the day usually ends with people jumping into the cold waters of Corinthian Bay.

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