On the last Wednesday of every August—this year, August 31st—thousands upon thousands of people travel from all corners of the globe to the tiny town of Bunol near Valencia, Spain. Why? To paint the town red!
No one is completely sure how the La Tomatina festival began. Since around the end of World War Two, townspeople—and, later, people from all over the world—have gathered in Plaza del Pueblo at the centre of the town to await the arrival of tomatoes from Extremadura. In past years, the festival would not begin until someone had managed to climb to the top of a two-storey greased wooden pole to retrieve the coveted festival ham, but as this can take a long time, it now simply begins at the first shot.
Festival goers spend the next hour revelling in the chaos by pelting one another with squashed tomatoes, screaming and shouting and laughing and jumping and generally making a huge mess. After that hour, and the sound of the second gunshot, the fight is over, with not a single further tomato permitted to be thrown. And then the clean-up begins. Huge fire trucks spray down the streets with water from one of the old Roman aqueducts. You’ll be hard pressed to find a truck that will help spray you down, so wash in the Bunol River or find a local resident kind enough to hose you down as you pass by.