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La Tomatina Festival: Spain Town Charges

Thousands of revellers have pelted tomatoes in an annual Spanish food fight - but for the first time they paid for the pleasure.

Some 20,000 people from around the world joined Wednesday's hour-long street party, known as La Tomatina, in a square in Brunol.

This time round, participants paid a minimum of 10 euros (£8.50) to take part, but 5,000 free tickets were set aside for the eastern Spanish town's residents.

It was also the first time in the history of the festival, inspired by a children's food fight in 1945, that it rained as the tomatoes were pelted.

The weather conditions or the entry cost did not appear to spoil anyone's fun however.

Many wore shower caps and goggles to protect their eyes from the acidic juice of the tomatoes, which must be squashed before they are hurled at fellow participants.

"It is one of the most famous festivals in western Europe and it is safer than running with a bull," said 22-year-old Brad Fisher, from Sydney, who came with a group of 700 people.

"One hundred and thirty tonnes of tomatoes is a lot but it's still better than a 500-kilo bull."

English participant Becky Charlton said: "This is our first time here, it's amazing, it's crazy, crazy, crazy. It's really good. I will come again next year."

Some 130 tonnes of tomatoes were thrown in the fight, although this year the city council reduced the number of people taking part from 45,000 to 20,000 due to safety concerns.

After the fight, many of the revellers traditionally head to a local river to wash off the pulp. But in this year's rain, that was not necessary.