10 Wacky Small Town Festivals

Tomato Fight Festival
Hoards of people come out for the chance to pelt a tomato at their friends and neighbors.
Hoards of people come out for the chance to pelt a tomato at their friends and neighbors.
Miguel Pereira/Getty Images

If, by some chance, you left junior high without experiencing the adolescent cafeteria tradition called the "food fight," take heart, and head to Spain.

To a town called Buñol, to be exact. This village near Valencia has been hosting a yearly tomato fight since the mid-1940s, taking a short break only when Francisco Franco outlawed it during his regime. It resumed in the 1970s as a full-fledged festival known as La Tomatina, when villagers, Spaniards and tourists flock to the streets to throw tomatoes at one another.

There are many stories about how the tradition began. Some say a bad musical performance spurred the first flying tomatoes. Others claim villagers threw the fruit at city council members during a town party to voice their dissatisfaction with the politicians. Or it may simply have been a random food fight that turned out to be so much fun they made it a yearly thing.

However it began, it has lasted more than 60 years to become one of the most beloved festivals in Spain. Each August, Buñol swells to accommodate locals, tourists and journalists. People take their tomatoes to the street and just let loose in a frenzy of joyous splatting and being splatted.

It's not all about the fight: A paella-cooking contest takes place the night before the tomato extravaganza, and the festival includes live music, fireworks and Tomatina parades.

But it's mostly about the fight. If you go, don't wear your favorite shirt.

And now, to Thailand, for more food. And monkeys ...

More to Explore