La Tomatina is a cool festival in the village of Buñol near the Spanish city of Valencia. The sleepy place Buñol for one day a year transforms into a pleasant battlefield where everyone pelts each other with tomatoes. La Tomatina takes place every year on the last Wednesday of August. A total of 22,000 people will come to this festival and 150,000 tons of (spoiled) tomatoes will be thrown. It is the world’s biggest food fight and in 2017 I participated! It was a fantastic experience and without a doubt the coolest festival I have ever experienced. La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes is an experience to put very high on your bucket list!
Read all about the world famous La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes!
How did La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes come into existence?
In 1944 the first tomatoes flew around in this small town. On the last Wednesday in August 1944 the small procession “gigantes y cabezudos” took place. A group of young people wanted to participate in this parade, but this was not allowed by the organization. They were so angry that they stole a number of tomatoes at the vegetable stew, and with that they started pelting the partygoers in this procession. This also happened in 1945 and the following years, despite being arrested every year by the police. They kept this up for a number of years, and that is how tomato-throwing ended up becoming a tradition in Buñol.
What does La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes look like?
At 9 o’clock in the morning the street opens up and everyone collects a few hours later to throw the tomatoes. The beer flows very early in the morning and there is loud music from all the houses. The town is almost bursting at the seams so early in the morning! In the meantime, the residents are very busy to hang large plastic cloths over the facades to protect the houses.
I walk around and look around in amazement. Early in the morning there is already a huge party going on. I decide to start drinking beer immediately. Not long after I walk on the main street, I immediately get a bucket of water over me and people spray me with a garden hose. Around me I see that everyone gets this and they are busy with shampoo. The residents throw buckets of cold water from their houses over partygoers. In no time everyone is completely wet.
The official start
The official start of La Tomatina is at 10:00 and everyone’s is gathering around a big pole. Intention is that you climb into the pole, which is completely soiled with soap, and get the ham that hangs at the top. I see a lot of brave men try this, but of course the soap does not work. The atmosphere is so good that the men are all enthusiastically encouraged. The water flies around and now there is also beer around. Very nice to watch!
The trucks with the tomatoes
The tomato throw takes exactly one hour, namely from 11 am to 12 pm. At half past 11 everyone is standing on the side of the road and waiting impatiently for the trucks with the tomatoes. There is a very loud bang at exactly 11 o’clock! Everyone cheers, sings, dances and the party begins! Six large lorries full of tomatoes drive through the streets and throwing starts. The thousands of tomatoes are thrown out of the trucks and the participants can throw these tomatoes together.
The first truck is coming and I immediately get a tomato thrown on my head. That hurts! And actually I also find it a bit scary. The street is so narrow and the truck so big that I and everyone around me are completely pushed against the wall. What a hectic and crazy thing!
I take a look at it and I decide to surrender completely and after a few minutes I throw enthusiastically. The atmosphere is exuberant and cozy! It feels great to throw tomatoes at strange people! Everyone is slowly changing into red shapes and the tomatoes are everywhere. The ground is full of a red slurry and the trucks keep coming! I dance, throw, jump and slide across the ground and the smile does not disappear from my face! This is so incredibly cool!
The end of La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes
After the hour there is a loud bang and everyone has to stop throwing tomatoes and there are no more trucks. The streets are changing into a big red glow and soon I see the residents and the fire brigade in action to wash away all the tomatoes and clean everything.
All participants walk en masse to the showers that are there to wash you clean. There is also a small river next to the town and thousands of people jump into the river because of the long queues at the showers to get rid of all the pieces of tomatoes that are everywhere. I also jump in the river and wash my hair and remove the pieces of tomato from my ears.
Just like everyone I throw away my dirty clothes and put on clean clothes, I walk back to the town.
The party continues
The party continues with a paella party and barracks are everywhere on the street. It is a big and exuberant party. The beer and sangria still flows richly after all those hours. Most of the people are socially drunk while it is only 13:00 in the afternoon. I throw myself into the festivity and am a happy person. What a cool festival this is!
The rules of La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes
- You can not throw bottles or other objects. Selfie sticks are not allowed.
- It is not allowed to destroy T-shirts or throw T-shirts.
- You have to squeeze the tomatoes first before you throw them, because it ensures that nobody really hurts each other.
- You have to stand on the side of the road when the truck drives along with tomatoes.
- To take part in the tomato throw you need a ticket which costs € 10,-. This money is used for cleaning up as well as for the plastic for the residents’ homes.
My tips for La Tomatina festival and throwing tomatoes
- Put on good shoes or sandals and no slippers or heels.
- Your clothes get dirty, so put on old clothes that you throw away after Tomatina.
- Take clean clothes for after La Tomatina.
- Put your goggles to protect your eyes.
- Take a waterproof camera and a waterproof bag to put some stuff in.
- Arrange accommodation in Buñol or in the area on time.
A great place to stay in Valencia is La Casita de Palomar.
- Not what you are looking for? Find here more great places to stay in Valencia!
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