The Ultimate Guide to La Tomatina: Spain’s Juiciest Fiesta

La Tomatina, held annually in the town of Buñol near Valencia, Spain, is the world’s biggest food fight. Taking place on the last Wednesday of August, this vibrant and messy festival attracts thousands of participants from all corners of the globe. The event’s origins date back to 1945 and it has since grown into a beloved tradition, celebrating Spain’s festive spirit and love for tomatoes.

 

Tomatina, bunol

 

The History of La Tomatina: Spain’s Iconic Tomato Festival

La Tomatina, held annually in Buñol, Spain, is a world-renowned festival known for its massive tomato fight. The origins of this vibrant event date back to 1945, beginning as a spontaneous act of playful rebellion during a local parade.

How La Tomatina Began

In 1945, during the “Gigantes y Cabezudos” parade, a group of young people decided to join the event with a twist. They grabbed tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stand and began hurling them at each other, creating a chaotic but fun atmosphere. This impromptu tomato fight was such a hit that it became an annual event, despite initial resistance from local authorities.

Growth and Popularity

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, La Tomatina faced several bans due to concerns over public safety and wastefulness. However, the festival’s popularity grew, driven by the enthusiasm of locals and tourists alike. By 1957, the event was reinstated permanently, thanks to persistent public demand.

Modern La Tomatina

Today, La Tomatina is a highly organized and internationally acclaimed festival, attracting tens of thousands of visitors. Participants from around the world gather to throw over 100 metric tons of ripe tomatoes in a joyous hour-long battle. The festival is a significant cultural event, highlighting Buñol’s unique heritage and Spain’s festive spirit.

 

 

 

What to Expect at La Tomatina

Imagine a sea of red as thousands of revelers hurl ripe tomatoes at each other in a spirited frenzy. The festivities begin at 11 am with the “palo jabón,” a greasy pole challenge. Participants attempt to climb the pole to reach a ham at the top, and once someone succeeds, the tomato fight begins. Over 100 metric tons of tomatoes are trucked in for this hour-long battle, transforming Buñol’s streets into a slippery, red mess.

Tips for Enjoying La Tomatina

1. **Wear Old Clothes:** Expect your clothes to be ruined. The acidity of the tomatoes can cause staining.
2. **Safety Goggles:** Protect your eyes from the acidic juice to fully enjoy the experience.
3. **Footwear:** Opt for closed shoes with good grip to navigate the slippery streets safely.
4. **Respect the Rules:** Follow the festival’s guidelines, such as squashing tomatoes before throwing to avoid injuries.

 

Beyond the Tomato Fight

La Tomatina is more than just a food fight. The week leading up to the main event features parades, fireworks, and paella cooking contests, offering a glimpse into Spanish culture. After the tomato fight, enjoy Buñol’s local attractions or explore nearby Valencia, known for its beautiful beaches and rich history.

La Tomatina is a must-see event for thrill-seekers and cultural enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re participating in the tomato-throwing chaos or simply soaking in the lively atmosphere, this fiesta promises an unforgettable experience. Join the fun and create lasting memories at Spain’s juiciest festival!

Plan your visit to La Tomatina today and immerse yourself in one of Spain’s most iconic celebrations.

 

The Tomatina Fiesta

At around 10 a.m., the first event of La Tomatina begins.

Participants gather to tackle the initial challenge: climbing a greased pole to retrieve a ham at the top. As this unfolds, the crowd engages in lively singing and dancing while being sprayed with water from hoses. Once someone successfully secures the ham, several trucks bring in the tomatoes to the town center, Plaza del Pueblo. These tomatoes, sourced from Extremadura, are grown specifically for the festival and are not suitable for consumption.

The start of the tomato fight is signaled by the firing of water cannons, igniting a chaotic free-for-all. Participants are advised to wear protective goggles and gloves for safety. Additionally, they must squish the tomatoes before throwing them to prevent injuries. Cameras covering the event are also frequent targets of the flying tomatoes.

After exactly one hour, the water cannons are fired again to signal the end of the fight, and no more tomatoes can be thrown.

The cleanup process involves fire trucks hosing down the streets with water from a Roman aqueduct. While the authorities focus on cleaning the town, visitors often head to the Buñol River to wash off, though some kind residents help by hosing down passers-by. The acidity of the tomatoes ensures that once the pulp is cleared away, the streets are left remarkably clean.

 

Tomatina Rules

The following rules have been set down by the Bunyol Town Council:

It is illegal to bring any kind of bottles or other objects that could cause an accident.
You must not tear t-shirts.
Tomatoes must be crushed before throwing so that they do not hurt anybody.
You must be careful to avoid the lorries which carry the tomatoes.
As soon as you hear the 2nd banger you must stop throwing tomatoes.
“Try to enjoy yourself as much as possible but respect these rules and the people. In the “tomatina” festival there has never been a mishap and we would like it to stay that way so everybody around the world can have a good time.”

 

Tomatina Useful Tips for Visitors

Do not wear flip-flops, but old sports shoes
Do not wear clothes that you want to use again in the future, the clothes will probably get broken.
Dive masks are very practical, because the tomatoes cause itchiness in the eyes. Later, your skin will be very smooth due to the tomatoes.
Enjoy it the most. It is great to be able to do something as nonsense as throwing tomatoes to anyone moving for an hour. You can relieve all your tightness. We should celebrate it more often.
If you do not live nearby and you need accommodation, we recommend you to find accommodation in Valencia, otherwise it could be difficult.
If you want to take pictures, you need an aquatic camera. Do not bring a video camera.
Never, and we mean never, climb on a gate, window, wall, etc. to be able to watch the battle, you will became the target of 40.000 people.
Do not miss the ‘soap-post’ a pole rubbed in soap with a ham leg hanging at the top. If you can reach the top, the ham leg is yours.

Tomatina

Bunyol is a small village of some 9000 people. Bunyol is located to the west of Valencia.

Accommodation in Bunyol is very restricted, it is only a small village after all.

If you need to travel from Valenica, there are trains from Valencia Central Station.

 

 

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