In a village close to Valencia, just a 39k train ride away lies Buñol. One hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes will be gathered from Extremadura, where tomatoes are less expensive for the last Wednesday of August where, between 11am and 1pm the largest tomato fight ever seen takes place.
Certainly as far as Spain’s summer calendar of festivals goes this has to be the messiest attracting thousands of visitors not only to Spain but from other parts of Spain too.
The population of Buñol expands from around 9,000 inhabitants to a whopping 45,000.
The night before participants compete in a paella cooking contest surrounded by music and dancing, a typical Spanish scene which sets the tone for the days to come.
Traditionally the festival does not actually begin until a brave go getter has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top.
The signal for the beginning of the fight is the firing of water cannons, and then the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every man for himself. After exactly one hour of squished tomatoes and torn shirts the water cannon signal the end on the fight which ends as promptly as it began.
While the revelers make their way to the river for a thorough washing down, if they can avoid the residents armed with hoses, the street cleaner set to cleaning the street caught in the firing line!
The tomatina evolved around 1945 and boasts many claims as to why. Whether it was a fight among friends, a juvenile class war, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade, a practical joke on a bad musician, the aftermath of an accidental lorry spillage who really knows. One popular theory is that disgruntled townspeople attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration.
Whatever happened to begin the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that, and so on. The holiday was banned during the Spanish State period under Francisco Franco for having no religious significance, but returned in the 1970s after his demise.
The festival honors the patron saints Luis Bertran and the Mare de Deu dels Desemparates- Mother of God of the Defenseless
For more information try http://www.turisvalencia.es/en/home