See the “world’s biggest food fight” up close without the requisite goggles, tomato-stained clothes and trip to Spain.
Revelers throw tomatoes on each other during the world's biggest tomato fight at La Tomatina Festival in Bunol, Spain.
Up to 45,000 people from all over the world descend on the small town near Valencia, Spain, each year.
Approximately 100 tons of rotten and over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.
The weeklong festival kicks off on the last Wednesday in August, and includes music, parades, dancing, fireworks and food (other than tomatoes).
No one knows why Tomatina started, but one popular theory dates its origins to a parade back in 1944 or 1945 in which young men started a brawl and armed themselves with tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stand.
Banned by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco for lacking religious significance, the festival returned in the 1970s, and is in honor of the town's patron saints, Luis Bertran and the Mare de Deu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless), a title of the Virgin Mary.
Around 11 a.m., the first event begins in the center of town, Plaza del Pueblo, where trucks have hauled in over 100,000 tomatoes.
Officially, the fight begins after the palo jabón, a 2-story greased pole with a ham at the top -- although the festivities will start whether or not a climber knocks the prized ham off the pole.
Shopkeepers use huge plastic covers on their storefronts in hopes of protecting them from the festival’s tomato-splashed aftermath.
Tomatina lasts for exactly 1 hour, signaled by the firing of water cannons. Fire trucks then spray down the streets to flush away the tomato residue.