Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and New Orleans, Louisiana, are famous for their pre-Lent celebrations. However, if you’re looking for a less-famous form of revelry—and have a sweet tooth to boot—then head to Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain. The seaside city hosts a weeklong celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday, with festivities including parades, dances, and theatrics in honor of Sa Majastat el Rei Carnestoltes—his Majesty, the King Carnival. Also on the itinerary: a giant food fight.
One of the first events kicking off six days of partying before the start of the Catholic season is La Merengada, an entire event devoted to flinging meringue at other people. Expect to be surrounded by local children, who are given the day off from school to participate in the sugary battle. Most poncho-clad participants arm themselves with pastry bags filled with the sticky sweet. The messy, fun-filled day culminates with an evening meal of xató, a traditional Catalonian dish resembling a tuna salad that’s topped with a nutty garlic sauce.