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
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.
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.
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
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.
Rules of La Tomatina
bring hard objects or bottles as they can contribute to accidents and harm
tear apart the T-shirts of other participants
be best if you squashed the tomatoes before proceeding to throw them for the
sake of reducing the impact
maintaining a safe distance from the lorries passing nearby
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:
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
clothes or the ones you don’t mind not wearing again. They will most probably
end up torn or incredibly dirty.
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.
want to take photographs of the pictures, take along a waterproof camera!
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.
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.