To put it simply, the La Tomatina Festival held in Buñol, Spain, is one giant tomato fight.
Once an informal festival, La Tomatina now become an annual celebration held each August. It attracts tens of thousands of people who participate in the world’s largest tomato fight.
The festival is in honor of the town's patron saints, St. Louis Bertrand (San Luis Bertràn) and the Mare de Déu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless), a title of the Virgin Mary.
The tomato fight became a festival tradition in the mid-1940s. Though the origins of the tomato fight are unknown, it is thought that La Tomatina began as either food fight among friends, or when locals threw tomatoes at bystanders or city councilmen during a town celebration. However it may have started, the lobbing of tomatoes has become the main attraction.
The tomato fight of the festival begins as the crowd gathers, singing and dancing to encourage one of the participants to climb up a greased pole to release a ham at the top. Once accomplished, the tomatoes are hauled into Plaza del Pueblo, the center of Buñol. Upon the firing of water cannons, the tomatoes fly. The fight lasts for an hour, during which it’s every man and woman for themselves. While the streets are cleaned by the local fire department, many participants head for Buñol River to clean off, or are showered off by a resident’s garden hose.
The festival includes music, parades, dancing and fireworks, as well as a paella cook-off the night before the festival.