It’s July, and in Berlin that means it’s about to get messy. I mean, seriously messy. An annual occasion since July 1998, the Wasserschlacht festival in Berlin is also known as one of the most brutal food fights known to man. Two districts, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, meet on the Oberbaumbrucke bridge and battle it out by hurling food at each other and pelting rivals with foam bats.
Our tour guide in Berlin informed us that we were only going to miss it by a week. I have to say, I was tempted to come back, pitch a safe spot away from all the action, and observe one of the most bizarre festivals I’ve heard of. However, our tour guide then went on to explain the lengths to which people go to make make sure their side is victorious. Not only are random bits of food thrown, but these Germans invest serious prepration time with their ammunition. In 2008 (the year before I was there) Berlin took the idea of food fights to new levels; rotting fish and used diapers were thrown into the mix, along with the more traditional flour, eggs and tomato bullets. Needless to say I decided against returning to witness it.
This video illustrates the chaos quite well:
Along with the participants keeping food and letting it rot for weeks before the fight, the dedicated warriors create their own suits of armour to protect themselves from painful hits of partially decomposed trout. Shields made out of trash cans, metal helmets bought from old military stores, and an angry ‘Grr’ snarling from their lip forms the ultimate German fighting machine.
If you’re in Berlin at some point this summer, watch out for rogue diapers falling from the sky.