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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Do you have excessive built-up anger? Are you craving something different? Grab your protective armour and get ready for battle. What’s your ammunition? Oranges in Italy, tomatoes in Spain, pillows in Chicago and snowballs in Scandinavia. These battles aren’t for the faint of heart… are you ready?

A shot of Vitamin C

Ivrea is a sleepy town in the province of Turin. The city became famous for being the home of Olivetti (yes, the typewriter company). Today however Ivrea is known for something totally different: the Battle of the Oranges. Thousands of people gather in the town square. 4000 “soldiers” are divided up into 9 teams, who combat each other from 40 carts filled with oranges. Where does this epic battle come from? Legend has it that a certain miller’s daughter refused the duke’s “right” to sleep with every newly-wed woman in his county. She cut off his head. The battle is a type of role-playing game, imitating the duke’s guards and the revolutionaries throwing oranges (which symbolise the duke’s head). If you want to be part of the action, sign up to be on a team. If you wear red, you’re considered a revolutionary and you won’t have oranges thrown at you. Around 580,000 lbs of oranges are used every year.

Details: The battle takes place in February/March for three days leading up to Fat Tuesday. The dates change according to the calendar.

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When life throws tomatoes…

…throw them back! Spain has mastered this art-form (or rather battle-form?). Every year a famous festival takes place in the town of Buñol in the Valencia region. It is held in the last Wednesday of August, the grand finale of a week-long festival. The party gets started at around 10am with the “palo jabón,” a greasy pole that revellers attempt to climb in order to knock a ham off of the top while being sprayed with water. Once the ham falls the tomato throwing begins after the sound of a horn. Plaza del Pueblo quickly turns into a juicy mess, crowds of people covered in tomato pulp within seconds. The second horn blast marks the end of the battle. Goggles and gloves are highly recommended!

Details: Battle takes place around 11am on the last Wednesday of August. Bring your own goggles and gloves. Remember, tomatoes must be crushed before being thrown to minimise injuries.

Flights to Valencia

Pillow fight!

It’s like a slumber party with thousands of people! You can get in on this pillow-fighting action all over the world on International Pillow Fight Day. Yes, this really exists. Over 130 cities take part in this annual battle. The biggest is by far in New York City with a whopping 5,000 people taking place. Now that’s what we call a HUGE pillow fight. In Europe the biggest fights are in Dublin, Budapest, London, Paris and Stockholm. As for fight rules, there are few.

  • Soft pillows only, however the more feathers the better
  • Swing lightly but constantly
  • Remove your glasses before the starting signal
  • Bring everyone you know (all ages!)

Last but not least… may the best goose-down win!

Details: International Pillow Fight Day usually takes place in the spring. In 2011 it was held on April 2nd but this date could change year to year. There are public pillow fights happening year-round though. Check out for more info.

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For the love of snow

Now this is a real winter sport… invented by who else than the Japanese? Yukigassen is a snowball fight competition held annually since 1988. How does it work? there are 14 players, each placed strategically around the court. If you can imagine it’s kind of like capture the flag but with snowballs. Players hit are eliminated and the team that captures the opposing flag wins. This “cool” game takes place every winter in Sobetsu, located in the northern part of the country on the island of Hokkaido. You don’t have to travel to Japan thought to take part, similar battles take place in Canada, Sweden, Norway and Finland. All you need is cool and calm to win at this game.

Flights to Japan

Have you ever taken part in one of these battles? Know of any other epic and fun fights going on in the world?

Img: Sebastiano Rossi / Flickr cc.


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