Flights - La Tomatina

By: David Collins

Imagine the scene, 20,000 people frolicking in the street, drenched in the same red liquid that flows down the streets towards the main plaza.

It may sound like something out of a bad B-movie, but it's very much real - and very popular.

Every year, tens of thousands of tourists and locals alike descend upon a small town in the Valencia region of Spain for the annual Tomatina festival.

As to how and why, well no-one's quite sure about how the festival came about - theories include a local food fight that escalated into a festival, to an accidental lorry spillage that lead to much fun - nevertheless, since the 1940's it has been a tradition in the town of Bunol, and attracts thousands every year.

Bunol itself has a population of 9,000 -sees it's numbers swell in the last Wednesday of August each year, as thousands of people of all ages descend upon the town to pelt each other with overripe tomatoes.

If you're thinking of heading to such an event, it's important to plan ahead and arrange your flights. Bunol itself is about 24 miles from Valencia. Due to a limited amount of room in the town itself, many choose to buy cheap flights to Valencia and travel by bus or train to the town where the festival takes place.

There are a wide variety of tours available, with shuttle buses ferrying thousands of eager participants from Valencia solely for the Tomatina festival. And with a wide range of cheap flights to Spain available to us, getting to the festival can be relatively easy if you know what you're doing.

As for what to take, well it's not exactly an event you're going to want to turn up to wearing your best clobber - you're bound to get drenched in tomato juice, and most likely have the clothes ripped from your body.

The festivities begin at around 9am with the 'Ham Up A Greasy Pole' event, which participants attempt to climb and reach the prize at the top. At 11am, trucks filled to bursting with overripe tomatoes roll through the town streets and the madcap hour of tomato flinging begins.

There are strict rules during the festival - from participants having to squish the fruit slightly before throwing to ceasing your flinging upon hearing the second klaxon - which will be sounded at 12 noon. After which you are likely to be apprehended by the local police should you try and get in a sneaky cheap shot.

However when the festival ends and there's no more tomato throwing, locals will hose down participants after the festival, and the heat of the Spanish sun ensures you dry off quickly - just in time for your journey back.

It's paramount to ensure that your possessions (including money and train tickets) are secure during the festival. Try not to bring anything of value - such as jewellery or mobile phones - to the event. If you're looking to take pictures you can usually buy disposable cameras from the festival itself.

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