From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury - A social calendar for the 21st century
28 August, 2013
Buñol, near Valencia, Spain
There are no winners in Spain's unique battle of the tomatoes, but all of the 40,000 or so revellers come away happy.
On the last Wednesday in August, the otherwise quiet town of Buñol, close to Valencia on the east coast of Spain, becomes a riot of colour as people take to the streets to pelt one another with nearly 140 tons of over-ripe tomatoes brought in from the surrounding countryside. Of the various claims to the event's origin, the most likely theory is that it started as a class-war between local youths in the 1940s.
The night before the fight, wine and food flow, especially paella, the regional speciality, served in the Concurso des Paellas near the Plaza del Pueblo.
The fight, which takes place beneath the town's imposing medieval bell-tower, commences at 11am, at the firing of a rocket. Participants, who generally wear safety goggles and old T-shirts and shorts, have to squish the tomatoes before throwing them.
After an hour, another rocket sounds to signal that it's time for fire-trucks to hose down the streets. However, the La Tomatina fiesta itself - held in honour of the town's patron saints - lasts a week, comprising a host of other events including parades, live music, dancing, food stalls, a paella-cooking contest and fireworks.