AS weird and wonderful fiestas go, La Tomatina is up there with the best of them, and after a two-year break, it’s back in all its tomato-throwing glory.
The tomato battle, which always takes place in Buñol, 40 km west of Valencia, on the last Wednesday of August, this year coincided with the last day of the month and was held yesterday (Wednesday).
The event, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, began in 1945 as a game between bored youngsters, and for the past two decades has been recognised as a Fiesta de interés Touristico international (Festival of International Tourist Interest). From humble beginnings, it now brings in two million euros in terms of tourism in the province.
Buñol mayor, Juncal Carrascosa, said that this year there were fewer tourists from Asia, where the festival is popular, due to travel restrictions still in place in some parts of the world, but that there had been 8,000 foreign visitors, mostly from Europe and 7,000 locals.
A total of 130 tonnes of ripe tomatoes were brought into the town for the battle. Plum tomatoes are chosen as they are a juicy variety but participants need to squeeze them before throwing so as not to harm anyone,
For an hour before the battle commenced, participants, eager to start, gathered in the streets of Buñol in the August heat. Mostly wearing goggles to protect them from tomato acid, the crowd was hosed with water down from the balconies above to keep them cool.
At 12.00 a carcass pirotecnica, a type of firework, was let off and the slow procession of six lorries filled with thousands of tomatoes began to move through the crowds. For an hour tomatoes flew through the air, forwards and backwards, leaving the streets awash with tomato juice and flesh. At 1pm a second carcasa sounded, marking the end of the event for another year.