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Scenes from an Epic Flower Battle in Spain

BySamantha FriendandJessica Pettway

Colorful images from photographers Samantha Friend and Jessica Pettway.

This story appears in the September Issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

The Batalla de Flores has been a rich tradition in Valencia, Spain, for 126 years. Taking place every year at the end of July, this Battle of Flowers is in some ways just how it sounds. Featuring elaborate floats that make their rounds through millions of carnations on the historic Walk of the Alameda, the event ends with an all-out battle in which flowers are batted between the floats' passengers and the audience.

In the weeks leading up to the battle, more than 1 million carnations and various flowers are grown and handpicked from the acres of fields surrounding the city. Generations of local artists showcase their skills in various mediums through float making where they utilize the thousands of flowers to create intricate new designs as well as revamp old ones.

These inventive, highly sculptural floats must securely carry large groups of falleras for hours. Some falleras (young girls and women dressed in traditional, Valencian silk garb) are selected by the Valencian Council to be honored in this historic tradition, while others are costumed to match the ornate theme of each horse-drawn float. All the same, they are armed with decorated rackets to help combat the sea of carnations, pollen, and sand being thrown at them.

The conclusion of the battle marks one of the last celebrations for their Grand July Fair, as the Valencian people play in the mounds leftover flowers, rejoicing in the fruits of their collective labor. As the event has been covered almost exclusively by male photographers, Samantha Friend and Jessica Pettaway sought out working together to redefine the usual imagery this female-centric tradition has seen.

See more of Jessica Pettway's work here, and Samantha Friend's work here.