Buñol, eastern Spain
Usually the last weekend in August
In fact, it’s not known how it came to be, only that the tradition has been around since 1944 or 1945 (it was banned by Spain’s dictator Franco for some time, but was then revived in the 1970s). And the tradition? A tomato fight, known as the tomatina. Each year in the small town of Buñol, with its population of 9,000 people, around 30,000 tourists converge to throw tomatoes at each other. There is organisation to the chaos. At around 11am a ham is placed at the top of a greasy pole and it’s not until someone successfully climbs the pole to remove the ham that the t-shirt fight (a prelude to the tomato throwing) begins. Then water cannons are sprayed to announce the unloading of truckloads of tomatoes. Now the real fun begins and the crowds of people turn as red as the tomatoes themselves, as they pelt each other. It all lasts an hour or two, at which point the water cannons go into action again to bring the festival to its conclusion. For the record, the tomatina is celebrated in the name of Buñol’s patron saints.
Where can I find out more?
Photo gallery at: gospain.about.com.