Each year Buñol in the Valencia region of Spain turns seriously red as the world’s largest Food Fight, La Tomatina, hits town. Held each year on the last Wednesday of August, thousands of tomatoes fly, while participants get caught up in the total madness. Due to the recent brutal terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, however, security is being boosted to protect revelers and those more timid people watching the event.

Spanish streets run red with tomatoes

The population of the relatively small town of Buñol is set to expand by thousands on August 30 as the annual La Tomatina festival gets underway at 11 a.m.

Authorities in the town have organized a team of 740 officers from the police, health services and fire department, as well as many volunteers, to protect the participants.

To give you an idea of the event, around 180,000 ripe tomatoes (weighing approximately 160 tons) will be hauled in by trucks from Extremadura (where tomatoes are cheaper to buy) into the Plaza del Pueblo, ready for revelers to pelt each other.

Strictly speaking the festival should only start after one brave person shimmies up a two-story greased wooden pole to grab a leg of ham sitting at the top.

However, as this tends to take a long time, normally people get stuck into the La Tomatina food fight long before that brave person has reached their prize.

Water cannons are fired off to start the hour-long event and then everything is sheer chaos. As described by the official website, it is every man for himself as everyone throws as many tomatoes as they can and bodies wallow in the resulting tomato slime.

Once the fight is over, fire trucks are employed to hose down the streets with water from a local Roman aqueduct, getting the town back to its usual self. Participants have to fend for themselves to get clean, with many jumping into the nearby Buñol River, or if they are lucky, getting hosed down by a friendly local.

Limited entrance to La Tomatina

As the La Tomatina event is highly popular, at one stage drawing around 45,000 people to the town, authorities decided a while ago to limit the number of visitors by using a ticketing system. These days only 22,000 tickets are available for the event, with the townspeople getting free access, while visiting participants have to pay around $12 per ticket.

The crazy tomato fight originated in Buñol in around 1945 and no one is 100 percent sure what started it. According to The Local, the most popular theory is that townspeople, upset with the city’s councilmen, decided to attack them with tomatoes during a festivity in town. Whatever started it, it was so much fun the town has continued to repeat the event annually ever since.