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But this is no time for wimps; new missiles must be gathered at every opportunity. Like lightning, new targets present themselves: a tempting back, a vulnerable head, a mate’s gasping face. With pure joy, this cavalcade of adults loses all shreds of dignity in a shouting, chaotic release from the restraints of everyday life. Then BOOM, the second cannon is sounded and, like overexcited but ultimately obedient schoolchildren, tomatoes are laid down and the fight is over.
Euphoric but dazed, the crowd shuffles slowly back out of the narrow streets, exchanging laughs and half-guilty looks as the destruction wreaked on Buñol – and each other – sinks in. Were it not for the smiles, the dripping red walls and limping, splattered humans would be straight from a Tarantino film.
As the Tomatinians stand under hoses, the gore seeps through the streets and I pity the locals. The euphoria may have been pure, but the aftermath is simply purée.

Words: Frankie Mullin

Valencia: best of the rest
On Spain’s east coast, the region of Valencia has much more going for it than simply chucking tomatoes. Valencia – the city, where you’ll likely be staying as accommodation is limited in Buñol – rivals Spain’s cosmopolitan and cultural centres of Barcelona and Madrid, with a vibrant nightlife, fantastic architecture and a rich heritage. Equally, the larger region – with two official languages, Valencian (Catalan) and Spanish – boasts fantastic whites- and beaches, picturesque landscapes and historic towns. Here’s our pick of what to see and where to see it when you’re done wiping tomato from your eyes.

Ciutat Vella
Valencia’s Old Town is a labyrinth of stunning streetscapes and lively avenues, where Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles mix seamlessly. To the northeast is the trendy, thriving area of Barrio del Carmen, which has undergone several stages of regeneration and is the place to go to experience Valencia’s famed nightlife, with loads of restaurants, clubs and open-air drinking spots spilling over into the small hours. Kick off your night with some drinks at the popular live music venue, La Bolseria, before hitting Piccadilly Club for some all-night dance music.

In terms of sightseeing, the Unesco-listed 16th-century La Lonja (silk exchange) is a fantastic example of late-Gothic extravagance. No expense was spared and the lavish building is made up of three main halls, filled with twisted columns and an intricately decorated ceiling. Also worth seeing are the Torres de Serranos, two 14th-century towers that used to form part of the city walls.


Painting the town red at Spain's infamous La Tomatina festival
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