15 or so years ago, I saw La Tomatina covered on the News. If you’re not familiar with it, La Tomatina is basically the world’s biggest food fight, which happens in the town of Bunol (near to Valencia) in Spain on the last Wednesday in August every year. Imagine 20,000 people lining the streets, throwing tomatoes at each other, and you’re basically there!
The first La Tomatina Festival took place in 1945, and originally, the festival did not begin until someone had climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top. This process takes a long time though, so in these health and safety filled days, the festival starts when the water cannons are fired at exactly 11am. On Tomatina Day, trucks haul thousands of tomatoes into the centre of the town – Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes are shipped in from Extremadura, where they are less expensive.
Once La Tomatina begins, the battle is generally every (wo)man for himself. The rules say you must squash your tomato before throwing it, to minimise the risk of injury. You can’t really see where you’re aiming, as Tomatoes are being thrown from every direction. This means you can’t really focus on your target, so don’t go with plans to cover your best friend with tomatoes!
At 12 noon, the festival is over, and no more tomatoes can be thrown. The clean up involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets. The acidity in the tomatoes does an amazing job of cleaning the streets, and once the fire trucks have swilled the pulp away, Plaza del Pueblo looks much cleaner than it did at the start of the day!
People aren’t as lucky as the street though – they have to find their own ways to get clean. Some bathe in the nearby Bundle River, while others ask locals to hose them down. You cannot take backpacks, bags, cameras or any other object that may cause harm into the festival, so getting clean and dry afterwards can be a challenge!
As the photo below shows, it’s pointless trying to hang your t-shirt up high to keep them clean – the tomato juice really does get everywhere!
Bunol is a small town, so finding local accommodation can be tricky. It’s usually easier and cheaper to stay in nearby Valencia and then get a bus to Bunol on the day. Flying to Alicante and then staying in Valencia is probably the most cost effective way to visit the festival. For more help with flights and accommodation, Click here.
La Tomatina is a ticketed event, so make sure you buy your ticket to the festival before you book your flights! You can get those here!
Does La Tomatina sound like your idea of fun? I’d love to join in!