La Tomatina Fiesta in Bunol Valencia
The History of the Tomatina Fiesta
It all started on the last Wednesday of August 1945, when the young people of that time were in the village square, where the “Tomatina” is celebrated. As the local authorities and the music band were parading during a festival of “giants and big-headeds”, a group of these young people who wanted to participate in the festival pushed the other young people who were
wearing costumes. One of the young people fell on the floor, and when he got up he started to hit everyone there, so everybody started fighting. Nearby there was a vegetable market stall in the street with the boxes of vegetables ready to be sold. The young people started to throw tomatoes to each other until the police took control and stopped that “battle” and ordered the responsible party to pay for the damages.
The following year, the young people of the village repeated the “battle” but they brought their own tomatoes from home. Again this was broken up by the local police. After repeating the same celebration during consecutive years, the festival was non-officially established. These people did not imagine that they had established a tradition that would grow year by year.
In the beginning of the fifties the festival was forbidden by the City Hall of Buñol. But it did not stop some people from repeating the event and they were imprisoned. The village asked for the festival to be allowed and they insisted so much that finally the local authorities agreed to allow it. Each
year there were more and more people participating in the festival, they had their pockets full of tomatoes and they were ready to throw water to each other, to jump in the fountains and to participate in other ‘loutish acts’. The problem was that this battle also involved the people who were only interested in watching and sometimes there were important people being ‘attacked’. So the festival was forbidden again.
In 1955 and as a protest the people celebrated ‘the tomato funeral’, a big demonstration where the villagers carried a coffin with a big tomato inside and they were accompanied by the band of music playing funeral marches. In 1957, the festival was definitely allowed and nowadays the City Hall organises and promotes this festival which made them famous all over the world.
The festival became popular all over Spain due to the Javier Basilio’s report, broadcasted in the TV program Informe Semanal.
Since 1980, the City Hall supplies the people with the tomatoes, and every year more and more tons of tomatoes are used, also there are more and more visitors.
The Tomatina Fiesta
At around 10 a.m., the first event of the Tomatina begins. The first feat is for the crowd to figure out how to get people to climb up a greased pole with a ham at the top. While this is happening, the group works up a frenzy singing and dancing while being showered from hoses. Once someone is able to release the ham from the pole, several trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the centre of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the festival as they are not of good taste for consumption.
The signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of water cannons, and the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every man for himself. Those who
partake in this event are strongly encouraged to wear protective safety goggles and gloves. In addition, they must squish the tomatoes before throwing for safety precautions. Another targets of tomatoes as well, including any cameras happening to cover the events.
After exactly one hour, the fighting ends when the water cannons are fired once more to signal the end. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown.
The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct. The authorities seem more concerned with
cleaning the town than cleaning the visitors, so some people find water at the Buñol River to wash themselves, although some kind residents will hose passers-by down. Once the tomato pulp is flushed, the ground is clean due to the acidity of the tomato.
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.
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.