Spain’s Tomatina festival limits visitor numbers

Revellers hoping to take part in Valencia's crazy La Tomatina festival next August will have to reserve a spot first after organizers introduced a ticket-only entrance system.

Spain's Tomatina festival limits visitor numbers
Tickets cost €10 and attendees will have to show their ID before entering the “fight zone”. Photo: Jose Jordan/AFP

Buñol Town Hall has decided to restrict the number of international partygoers at this year’s event by only putting 15,000 tickets up for grabs for non-locals.

Organizers of the world-renowned event had previously allowed unlimited access to locals and tourists alike, prompting crowds of up to 45,000 people in the narrow streets of this small Valencian town.

Check out The Local's Top ten crazy festivals.

“Although there haven’t been any incidents, it was starting to become unbearable for the locals and also potentially more dangerous for everyone,” Estefania Palacios, organizer for ticket distributor Spaintastic, told The Local.

“As the tomato-pelting will only take place within one fenced off street, Buñol Town Hall has decided to halve the number of participants to ensure their safety and enjoyment.”

Ninety percent of tickets for this year’s La Tomatina have already been sold, with people from as far afield as Japan, India, Australia and the US expected to come in their droves on August 28th.

Tickets cost €10 and attendees will have to show their ID before entering the “fight zone”.

The last tickets are available on .

Buñol has seen countless kilos of tomatoes flying through the air since the 1950s.

La Tomatina has attracted so much global attention that numerous cities in South America and Asia have copied the food-throwing festival idea.

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In Pictures: Spain’s Fallas festival returns after pandemic pause

Valencia's Fallas festival wrapped up with fireworks and the burning of colourful sculptures on Sunday after returning to the eastern Spanish city following a pandemic-induced hiatus.

In Pictures: Spain's Fallas festival returns after pandemic pause
Ninots (cardboard effigies) burn as one installation of the Fallas Festival is set alight in Valencia on September 5, 2021. Photos: José Jordan/AFP

The five-day festival is traditionally held in March but was cancelled last year as the Covid-19 pandemic swept Spain. This year, officials postponed the start of the UNESCO-recognised event until September 1st.

It was the first time that the festival was suspended since the end of Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War.

Each year, residents make hundreds of colourful puppet-like sculptures — some as big as a four-storey building — out of wood, plaster and papier-mache for the festival.

Called “ninots”, the sculptures depict fairytale characters and cartoonish effigies of politicians and celebrities.

One ensemble from this year’s event was inspired by the hit Spanish Netflix series “Money Heist”. It depicted several people wearing red overalls and Salvador Dali face masks like the main characters in the show.

The ninots are displayed in the streets of the Mediterranean city and then burned on the last day of the festival — in a bonfire called the “Cremà” — in a centuries-old tradition honouring St Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

Fireworks lit up the night sky as this year’s bonfire, which features about 750 sculptures, was held without the thousands of spectators that the event usually draws.

The bonfire was brought forward by two hours to allow festivities to end before a nightly virus curfew came into effect at 1:00 am (2300 GMT).

After much debate a customary flower offering to the Virgin Mary was allowed to proceed — but without people lining the route, as is tradition.

“These are not Fallas as such, more like Fallas-related events that comply with health regulations,” said Valencia mayor Joan Ribo.

The Fallas festival is believed to have originated from pagan rituals marking the end of winter.

The pandemic has forced the cancellation of many of Spain’s most famous fiestas, including Pamplona’s bull-running festival and Seville’s Holy Week processions.