Tomato Throwing, La Tomatina Festival
Tomato Throwing, La Tomatina Festival Spain is one of the most exciting food festivals in the world that is held every year in the Buñol, a small town near Valencia, Spain. In this festival, participants throw tomatoes at each other and get involved in the tomato fight purely for fun and entertainment. Festival has been held since 1945 every year on the last Wednesday of August, during the long week of festivities of Buñol. We were keenly interested to attend Tomato Throwing, La Tomatina Festival, Spain and we planned our trip accordingly.
How La Tomatina Festival Evolved:
If we look back at the history of the festival, it started with an ordinary street fight broken out by some young boys and one of the participant started to pelt everyone with vegetables from a market stall nearby and this led a furious vegetable battle in 1945 at BUNOL. Next year the same young folks picked a quarrel on purpose and brought their own tomatoes and purposely started the fight and that’s how this festival started and this entertaining tradition is still alive and every year thousands of people come from all over the world to witness and participate in La Tomatina Festival.
Where to stay:
Bunol is a small town with 9000 but is visited by over 30,000 people every year. There is limited accommodation for people who come to La Tomatina festival every year so many people take the easier option of staying in nearby city Valencia. We were traveling with kids and wanted to keep kids entertained too so we had already booked a place at Valencia and get a chance to visit Valencia City as well. Valencia is only 38km away from Bunol by bus or train. On the festival morning when we stepped out of our hotel we saw groups of people going towards the train station. Local authorities imprint tomatoes footsteps on the ground to help people follow the right path towards the train station. Please remember for going to Bunol you must go to València Sant Isidre station to get to Bunol, it doesn’t leave from the main station. (Lots of people waste their time due to confusion, we did too)
Tickets: Tomato Throwing,Spain
Yes, you must buy a ticket for the festival. There was no ticket till 2013 but In 2012, 50,000 people came from all over the world and it’s very difficult to manage them so to make things better and under control, they started ticketing for only 30,000 people. So, if you want to participate in the Tomato Throwing, La Tomatina Festival Spain please don’t forget to buy tickets in advance. Please Remember You Must Have a Ticket, No Ticket: No Entry.
Day of La Tomatina Festival
The festival comes with a weeklong other ‘festivities’ like parades, fireworks, and massive Paella cooking contests. Before festival starts nearby shopkeepers and houses use huge plastic covers on their store and house fronts in order to protect them from the dirty mess of all this massacre.
Actual Tomatina festival starts at 11 am but people start getting at the Plaza Del Pueblo early in the morning to get better and close spot to the trucks so they can enjoy fully.Festival starts by cracker sounds and firing water cannon and fight starts. Many trucks bring the bounty of tomatoes into the center of the town, Plaza del Pueblo.
Traditionally the festival does not start until one person must climb to the top of a high, greased-up wooden pole and must reach the piece of ham at the top. This process takes a long time, but the festival usually starts with the signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of water cannons regardless of any one reached the meaty prize or no.
After one hour, the fighting ends and no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets and the participant and some kind residents will hose passers-by down. The best part is once the tomato pulp is flushed, the streets are clean due to the acidity of the tomato.
MY FACTS; Throwing Tomatoes Festival
Festivals are always fun but there are some facts which I want to share with you just to give you a real picture of the situation. Facts can be different for everyone so these are only my facts :
1)- Leave as early as possible and try to reach before 8 am to get a better place to enjoy the festival.
2) – when you will get off the train station in Bunol there will be all kinds of people and music and festivity environment will be around you but that is not where the tomato fight takes place. The main street where the dump trucks roll through is about a 15-minute fun filled walk. Just follow the happily singing and dancing crowd. Once you start seeing buildings covered in big plastics to protect them from the tomatoes you know that you are in the right spot.
3)- There will be too many people into the tomato ‘zone’ and the streets of Bunol are very narrow so it is very important to show up early and make sure you have time to search and find the right spot. People usually start reaching around 6 o’clock in the morning to get a better spot. Remember streets gets bottle necked of visitors and you can barely move in the crowd or even bend down to pick up a tomato. So be there before 9:00 am to get into better position at the beginning or the end of the route, where the streets are wider, but not in the middle part of the streets.
4)- It’s usually hot weather at that day plus long standing hours makes people tired and frustrated and people can burst into fights easily. A couple of people got fainted due to suffocation and heat. Some were already over drunk and bothering people around them.
5)- Although there are rules to play throwing tomatoes festival, which not everyone follows and expect to get hit with tomatoes without squashing, and YES, they hit you badly…so be prepared.
6)- There will be a lot of smell all around after the fight. Although they wash streets immediately but still from people sweat and tomatoes smell from the clothes (which you can’t clean thoroughly at the spot) will be very strong.
KIDS & La Tomatina Festival
We took our kids with us BUT I must say “NO“, it’s not kids festival as the average height of participant must be the 5ft plus, so children would not see or enjoy much. The main festival place is impossible for kids to go but next to the Town Hall there were some kind people who arranged a small area for kids and families to play with tomatoes and enjoy the spirit of Throwing tomatoes, La Tomatina festival.
The Rules of La Tomatina Festival
There are council rules and guidelines for being involved in the tomato fight:
- Do not enter bottles or hard objects because you can cause an accident or damages to your battle’s fellows.
- Do not tear or throw your T-shirts or other visitors shirts.
- Squash the tomatoes before throwing them, the hit will be less painful.
- Keep a safe distance of the Lorries.
- Stop to throw tomatoes when you hear the shot of the second warning firework.
- Follow the security staff directions.
- Tomatoes can be thrown in all directions during an hour.
Things to Remember:
- For going to Bunol you must go to a different station (València Sant Isidre ) to get to Bunol, it doesn’t leave from the main station.
- Try to wear old clothes or clothes that you are not going to wear later.
- Avoid flip flops and Wear shoes to keep them on your feet.
- The goggles are MUST protect you from tomato acid.
- Better to use waterproof cameras or just use a protective case.
- Come as early as possible!
- Keep a safe distance of the Lorries someone can push you anytime.
- Tomatoes can be thrown any directions during an hour.
- Avoid bags or valuable belongings because there will be no place to leave your things
- some tour companies offer ticket + Locker where you can keep your valuables safely but better to buy in advance.
- Bring a bottle of water, a water proof camera and yourself.
- Stay safe and enjoy the festivities as much possible
Many countries tried to recreate Tomato Throwing, La Tomatina Festivals like Nevada, Chicago, Costa Rica and Columbia but no one could get that successful and popular as “La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain”. It is still the most popular and famous food festival in the world. It was truly a fun and maddest party ever..!!
(Some images are shared from the internet for better understanding)
LA TOMATINA DE BUÑOL …..!!