In pictures: Spanish 'Tomatina' festival

By George Berridge
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The 'tomatina' food festival gets underway

This is the scene in the Spanish town of Bunol, near Valencia, on Wednesday as more than 40,000 people take part in the annual 'la Tomatina' food fight.

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Thousands of revellers enjoy the messy festivities

The event, often called the "World's Biggest Food Fight", is now in its 64th year.

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Two men are covered in tomato paste at the festival

Hundreds of revellers come from as far as Australia and Japan to take part in the festivities.

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People coated in tomato paste enjoy the event

Up to 150,000 (around 40 tons) of tomatoes are thrown in an hour. The local fire teams help to clear up both the participants and the pavements.

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Thousands of people taking part in the giant food fight

The true origins of the event are unknown, though the most likely story is that a group of young men who wanted to take part in the parade of gigantes y cabezudos (a procession of huge papier maché models) staged a brawl in the town and used tomatoes as ammunition. The festival now takes place purely for fun.

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Two revellers can't help getting saucy mid-festival

Despite early police opposition, the event gained popularity and became official in 1957. It now forms part of a larger festival with music, live performances and a 'greasy pole' climb.

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One of the revellers didn't seem too impressed with his new hairstyle

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A young woman smiles as tomatoes rush past her

The tomatoes themselves, which are now specifically grown for the festival, have to be squashed to avoid causing injury.

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Hundreds of people getting messy during 'tomatina'

The event has now gained such fame other countries, such as Columbia, China and Chile, are beginning to hold their own food fights.

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A man wipes his eyes as he lies on a sea of tomatoes

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One young man seems happy to be painted red with tomatoes

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There's nothing quite like a food fight to bring out the evil in people

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This is one fight where couples are sure to end up smiling