The sunny Mediterranean city of Valencia in Spain is world-renowned for its tasty and succulent oranges. And just thirty miles away is Buñol, another town just as famous for its produce. But its notoriety comes from La Tomatina, the world’s largest tomato fight. Situated only 30 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea, this charming town erupts into a fiery blaze of tomato-hurling on the last Wednesday of every August.
Shopkeepers and business owners along the Plaza set about covering windows and doors in preparation for the messy onslaught, as 1,000’s of visitors from all over the world, dressed in clothing doomed for the rubbish bin, arrive for the battle, which cannot commence until the ‘greasy pole’ has been conquered.
The pole about 40ft high, is set in the central plaza. A leg of ham is attached to the top and whoever climbs to the top first claims the ham. Not as easy as it seems as the pole is thoroughly greased with soft grease and is extremely slippery. Gangs of lads and lassies fight over each other to climb up the pole and reach the ham, constantly sliding back down as the pyramid of people below collapses. T-shirts are ripped off and thrown at the climbers to help them remove the grease from the pole. Once the ham has been claimed, a siren is sounded and the battle commences with huge water jets soaking the crowds and creating a river in the narrow streets.
Eventually, large trucks full of tomatoes rumble up the cobblestone streets and from the back of the huge trucks, official instigators begin ceremoniously pelting the awaiting throng with sloppy, squishy tomatoes. More than 20,000 revellers retaliate against the truckers, each other and a scene of pure lunacy follows as the streets become awash in seeds, pulp and tomato guts. The insanity ensues until more than 90,000 pounds of tomatoes have been hurled at anyone that ducks, runs, stops, turns about, or fights back. Like all good battles, the assault is over in less than an hour. Everyone then heads down to the river and makeshift showers to remove the saucy mess from hair and body, whilst the firemen prepare to hose down the streets and return the town to normal.