In Praise of Pillow Fights

The battle lines are drawn. The warriors raise their weapons and charge, pummelling their opponents mercilessly. Little white feathers fill the air, tickling nostrils, invading eyes, rising ever upwards like an explosion on a poultry farm.

This isn’t a scene from Chicken Run Uncut, but International Pillow Fight Day in London’s Trafalgar Square, one of the largest gatherings of pillow fights enthusiasts in the world.

For one day a year, cities across the globe call on their citizens to take up arms for a battle where the only casualties are a few hundred feather-stuffed cushions. The event is open to all – the only things you need to take part are a pillow – obviously – and a healthy sense of childish enthusiasm.

The event usually takes place in April, with events taking place not only in London, but in locations as diverse as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires. If you want to take part in next year’s frivolities, you have a whole 8 months to brush up on your skills and become a bona fide pillow ninja! With that in mind, here’s our 5-step guide to conducting the perfect pillow fight:

1. Know your audience– The perfect pillow fight starts with the element of surprise. That said, you also have to know who the willing fighters are. Smacking an unsuspecting friend in the face with a pillow may not always go down well. Many friendships have ended this way.  Likewise, if you’re visiting your elderly grandmother at the nursing home, bashing her across the chops with a feathered cushion is more likely to earn you a spot on the evening news than to start a good natured pillow battle.

Seek out friends who share your sense of fun, and try to subtly introduce the idea of a pillow fight a few days in advance. Casually drop it into conversation, gauge their opinion, maybe playfully throw a sponge or soft ball in their direction and see how they react. If they look angry or start crying, they’re probably not pillow fight friendly.

2. Safety first– Sneak away from the group to prepare your environment. Remove all breakables from the fight arena. Lay pillows out for each person. During the fight, don’t stand on a bed, chair, sofa or anything else you could easily fall from.

TIP: Feather pillows or cushions are best for soft but forceful impact. Avoid cushions with zips or buckles that could cause injury.

3. Coax– Make sure everyone is in the same room.. Check that no-one is holding drinks, breakables or a baby. Casually pick up a pillow, secure the exits so that escape is quite impossible, and prepare for the attack.  

TIP: Good coaxing phrases include, ‘Come in and meet my new kitten/puppy’, ‘I’ve set up a game of giant Jenga!’, ‘The Eastenders Omnibus is on!’

4. PILLOW FIGHT!!!- No pillow fight can begin in earnest without you shouting these two key words.  Let battle commence.

5. Remember what’s important– Like everything in life it is the taking part that counts so don’t take it too seriously. Keep your blows light and make sure everybody’s having a good time. Be equally gracious in victory or defeat, and when battle is ended, celebrate with trashy movies and cake. Happy fighting!

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