Every year on Wednesday near the end of August the town of Bunol in the Valencia region of Spain hosts the La Tomatina festival in which tens of thousands of people come from all over the world to fight in an epic battle – a battle where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.
The week-long festival features music, parades, dancing, and fireworks. On the night before the tomato fight, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest.
At around 11 a .m., the first event of the Tomatina begins. A ham is placed upon a cockaigne pole (a large, greased pole), and the tomato fight can begin only when someone is able to climb to the top and bring it down. People struggle against each other, climbing atop one another, in order to be the one to pull down the ham. With this victory, the tomato-throwing begins.
Trucks haul in the tomatoes to the center of town. The tomatoes are not locally grown, but come from Extremadura as they are far less expensive.
The fight begins with a literal cannon shot. Participants are encouraged to wear protective eye-wear and gloves and are asked to squish the tomatoes before throwing. It is considered a faux pas to tear another participants clothing. Somewhere between an hour and two hours later a second cannon shot marks the end of the battle and no more tomatoes can be thrown. The town is then cleaned by fire trucks who spray down the streets.
About 30,000 people invade the small town of 9,000 each year to throw tomatoes at you. This festival gives new meaning to a foodie vacation! Although it has already passed this year, mark you calendars for next year.