La Tomatina Festival in Valencia
La Tomatina is a famous food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August every year in Buñol town, situated in Spain, near Valencia. Thousands of people come here from all across the world to participate in this biggest food fight of the world, where they throw above one hundred metric tons of over-ripened tomatoes in the streets.
Before 2013 somewhere between forty thousand to fifty thousand people (estimated to be fifty thousand in 2012) rushed into this giant tomato fight, significantly surpassing Buñol’s average human population of about 9 000 people. However, from 2013 onwards, the official ticketing has been in town, limiting attendees to only around twenty thousand lucky people.
There is limited seating for the visitors who come to attend La Tomatina, so most of them prefer staying in the closely located Valencia, only 38 km away from Buñol by train or bus. In preparation for the dirty mess that will follow, shopkeepers put on huge plastic covers on their storefronts to protect them from the carnage.
How did La Tomatina Start
This tomato fight has been a vibrant tradition of Buñol since 1944 or 1945. Anyhow, nothing can be said with certainty about how this tradition was started. Possible reasons for how this fight began to include a local food fight among a few friends, a practical joke on a bad musician, a juvenile class battle, a cascade of tomatoes from the viewers of a carnival parade, and the chaotic aftermath of a sudden lorry spillage.
Another famous theory in circulation is that the displeased townspeople attacked city administrators with tomatoes when a celebration was going on. Whatever caused the beginning of this popular tradition, it was welcomed so much that the people repeated it the next year and the years after that, and it continues till date. However, the official holiday was banned during the Spanish State period under the rule of Francisco Franco for having no historical or religious worth but revoked in the 1970s after his death.
This food fight festival is in honour of the town’s patron saints, Mare de Deu dels Desemparats (the mother of the God of defenceless), a title of the Virgin Mary, and the Luis Bertran.
Where is Buñol
Buñol is a municipality and town in the Valencia province of Spain and is located about 38 km west of Valencia.
For international travellers, there are many ways to go to Valencia from London. If booked timely early availability to Valencia is good, and the flights are pretty efficient. Easy jet flies from Bristol, London Gatwick, and London Stansted, Ryanair flies from Dublin, East Midlands, Liverpool, and London Stansted, Click air fly from London Heathrow, and Iberia fly from London Heathrow are among the best options.
When is La Tomatina
La Tomatina 2021: 25th of August (Cancelled due to the pandemic of COVID-19)
La Tomatina 2022: 31st of August
La Tomatina 2023: 30th of August
La Tomatina 2024: 28th of August
La Tomatina 2025: 27th of August
What Happens at La Tomatina
At about 11:00 am, many trucks drag the bounty of the tomatoes into the middle of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from somewhere outside the town, where they cost a little less. Technically, the food fighting festival does not start until one daring person climbed up to the top of a double-story high, greased-up pool made up of wood and reached the coveted ham on the top. In practice, this whole procedure takes so much time, and the festival begins even if no one reaches the meaty prize. The sign for the start of the food fight is the water cannons firing, and eventually, colossal chaos follows. Once the event gets a start, the battle is typically every person for himself.
After one hour, the fighting comes to an end. After this point, no one can throw any more tomatoes. The cleaning process includes the use of fire trucks for spraying down the streets, with the water supply provided from a Roman aqueduct. The administrative official seems to be concerned about cleaning the streets more than about the people attending the fight festival. So, some visitors find water at the town river to clean themselves, although some kind locals will hose the guests down. Once the tomato pulp is thoroughly washed out, the streets are cleaned due to the high acid content of the tomatoes.
The Rules of La Tomatina
· Do not bring hard objects or bottles as they can contribute to accidents and harm other attendees.
· Do not tear apart the T-shirts of other participants
· It would be best if you squashed the tomatoes before proceeding to throw them for the sake of reducing the impact
· Ensure maintaining a safe distance from the lorries passing nearby
· As soon as you hear the 2nd shot, you must end throwing the tomatoes
If you are thinking to become a part of the festival, follow these pieces of advice:
· Wear the kind of shoes that you do not hesitate to throw away after the fight. If you put on flip-flops, you might get hurt, or you could drop them easily during the food fight.
· Wear old clothes or the ones you don’t mind not wearing again. They will most probably end up torn or incredibly dirty.
· Put on goggles to protect your eyes from the tomato pulp. Also, keep some soft wipes in your pockets to clean your face and eyes every few minutes.
· If you want to take photographs of the pictures, take along a waterproof camera!
· If you are not a resident of the Buñol town and you need to spend an overnight there, do not forget to arrange a secure and comfortable accommodation beforehand to avoid any possible troubles that you can face later on.
· Do not miss out on the Palojabon, a greased pole with a Spanish ham on its top. Whoever climbs up the pole to get the ham can keep it afterwards!
Stay safe and make the most of such unique festivals as much as you can.