PHOTO STORY: Pictures from La Tomatina festival in Spain (and why you should go next year)

Each year, more than 20,000 travellers descend on the town of Buñol outside of Valencia to throw more than 150 tonnes of inedible tomatoes at each other. Read on to see what you missed (and why you should plan to join next year).

The event began during a village parade back in 1945, when local youths started a fight, throwing tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall. Over the years, the event has escalated to become what is now considered the world’s largest food fight, attracting travellers from all over the world to join the fun. To accommodate the growing popularity of the festival the town of Buñol partnered with growers so that the tonnes of inedible tomatoes destined to be food waste can now be used by revellers instead, so don’t feel guilty about making a mess.  

The event takes place on the last Wednesday in August every year, but you can still book that flight to Valencia you’ve been eyeing even if you missed this year’s festivities.

Read on for photo inspiration and tips and tricks for next year’s La Tomatina, and when you’re ready to get your trip on the books, head to KAYAK.co.uk to search for flights.

Pro tip 1

Get there early – Thousands of people will be trying to make their way into the city, and you’ll want to avoid the traffic and queues.

La Tomatina starts with lorries full of tomatoes driving into the city and handing out tomatoes or even dumping whole lorry loads on the streets for the revellers. © Miles Holder
La Tomatina starts with lorries full of tomatoes driving into the city, some even dumping whole lorry loads on the streets for the revellers © Miles Holder
Armed with tomatoes as ammunition, revellers proceed to make a mess. © Miles Holder
Armed with tomatoes as ammunition, revellers proceed to make a mess © Miles Holder

Pro tip 2

Bring goggles – Tomatoes are quite acidic and sting the eyes, so bring goggles. You can also buy goggles when you buy your festival tickets, but beware you’ll have to queue for them.

Tomatoes begin flying through the air indiscriminately covering revellers (and cameras!) alike. © Miles Holder
Tomatoes begin flying through the air indiscriminately covering revellers (and cameras!) alike © Miles Holder
Revellers are all smiles as tomatoes are thrown in the crowded streets of Buñol. © Miles Holder
Revellers are all smiles as tomatoes are thrown in the crowded streets of Buñol © Miles Holder

Pro tip 3

Wear clothes you don’t care about – Fair warning, the smell and colour of tomatoes will haunt whatever outfit you wear to the festival.

Some revellers stand as an island of calm in the turbulent sea of tomato pulp. © Miles Holder
Some revellers stand as an island of calm in the turbulent sea of tomato pulp © Miles Holder
Equipped with goggles to keep all the tomato out of their eyes revellers soak in the festive atmosphere (and tomato juice). © Miles Holder
Equipped with goggles to keep all the tomato out of their eyes, revellers soak in the festive atmosphere (and tomato juice) © Miles Holder

Pro tip 4

Bring a change of clothes for afterward – While there are hoses and showers to clean yourself up after the festival, you’ll want to bring something dry and clean to change into afterward.

Teamwork is often required to grab the tomatoes being thrown from lorries. © Miles Holder
Teamwork is often required to grab the tomatoes being thrown from lorries © Miles Holder
Teamwork is often required to grab the tomatoes being thrown from lorries. © Miles Holder
By midday, the streets become rivers of tomato pulp © Miles Holder

Other famous food fights:

If tomatoes aren’t your thing but you want to be involved in the next big food fight, check out these festivals for your chance to get messy:

Grapes

La Raima, the festival of grapes, is held each August in La Pobla del Duc, Spain. In this small Spanish town, 90 tonnes of locally grown grapes are thrown by revellers. The festival’s origins date back to the 1930s when local farmers celebrated the end of the annual grape harvest by flinging surplus grapes at each other.

Custard pies

Every June in Coxheath, England, different teams from across the world come together to enter the World Custard Pie Championship. The festival pits teams of four against each other in a custard pie throwing contest to raise money for the village hall.

Wine

In Haro, Spain, during the last week of June, thousands of locals and tourists throw the red liquid all over each other. The event coincides with the Feast of St. Peter, but the event is referred to locally as “La Batalla del Vino” or “the battle of wine”.

Merengue

Each February in Vilanova i la Geltrú, a small port town located an hour drive from Barcelona, revellers participate in the Merengada – an entire event devoted to flinging meringue. 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.

Flour

Each year in Galaxidi, Greece, locals celebrate the start of Lent (according to the Greek Orthodox calendar) by throwing bags of coloured flour at each other. This flour-flinging battle is called Alevromoutzouroma, or the Flour Wars.

Oranges

The annual Battaglia delle Arance (Battle of the Oranges) is the largest food fight in Italy. Held in the small Northern Italian town of Ivrea every February, thousands of competitors are divided into teams that hurl more than a million pounds of oranges at each other.

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