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20,000 people participate in Valencia's annual tomato-throwing event, La Tomatina, where 100 tonnes of overripe tomatoes or 150,000 tomatoes are thrown. The largest food fight in the world, so the story goes. Just make sure to bring old shoes and goggles.
The celebration is held in the little village of Buñol, which is 38 kilometres away from Valencia. Buñol typically has 9000 residents, but during La Tomatina, that number rises dramatically.
The town decided to limit the number of participants by introducing a ticketing system after the number of festival visitors reached approximately 50,000 in 2012. 20,000 tickets, priced at €10 each, are now sold in advance of the festival.
Every year on the final Wednesday of August, the great battle is fought. When the start signal sounds at 11 a.m., the fight begins. The fight ends exactly one hour later, with large hoses turned on to clean up the streets covered in crushed tomatoes.
When everything is washed away, the acidity of the tomatoes leaves Buñol's streets cleaner than before, even though shopkeepers cover their storefronts with plastic to protect them.
There are several legends regarding the origins of the Tomatina festival as well as a few more regarding the festival's two-day ban. The most interesting tale is that, in 1945, some boys got upset with each other and began tossing tomatoes. Others began a tomato fight the following year, and they established it as a tradition.
Early in the 1950s, La Tomatina was outlawed; however, it was reinstituted in 1957 as a result of protests by the people of Buñol, who held a ceremonial funeral for a giant tomato in opposition to the ban. Later, the festival was once again outlawed by the Franco government due to the fact that it is honouring the patron saints Louis Bertrand and Mare de Déu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenceless). When La Tomatina was reintroduced in 1970, participants brought their own tomatoes to the fight because the organisation wasn't formally established until 1975.
You might visit Buñol just for La Tomatina as a visit to the area can be fantastic due to the area's stunning mountainous terrain, hiking, climbing, and biking which are abundant options.