The festival on the last Wednesday of August is called ‘the Tomatina’ and is basically a town-wide tomato fight. It is thought the tradition began in 1945 when a fight erupted among two young members of a carnival crowd. A vegetable stall was nearby in the town square and every started throwing tomatoes at each other. Exactly one year later, young people met at the square, but this time with their own tomatoes. Another food-fight started but was broken up by police.
In the following years this practice was banned by the authorities, but due to popular demand was given official recognition in 1959. This was only to occur if participants would respect the start and the end of tomato-throwing being announced with a banger and some rules must be complied:
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 don’t 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
La Tomatina tomato fight in Buñol near Valencia happens every year on the last Wednesday in August though the partying starts earlier in the week. The highlight of the festival is the tomato fight which takes place between 11am and 1pm on that day.
The event has become one of the highlights on Spain’s summer festivals calendar with thousands of people flocking to this little Valencian town for this chaotic event.
Such are the numbers going to La Tomatina that the event has become a victim of its own success. The sheer number of people means that it’s extremely difficult to get anywhere near the central area where the tomato lorries arrive so you may well find yourself a few streets away from the main action. Never mind, there are plenty people in the same boat and the street partying goes on no matter where you are.
On the morning of the festival there are trains from Valencia Central Station, which is about 40km away, at eight minutes past the hour (check at www.renfe.es just in case this has changed). There is no need to book tickets in advance and the journey takes 50 minutes.
The actual tomato fight lasts little over an hour beginning at midday and continuing until shortly after 1pm. So the 8.08am, 9.08am or 10.08 trains will get you there in plenty time. The earlier the better as the trains do get full. Alternatively, you can arrive by local bus or rent a car though this might not be a great idea considering the mess you’re likely to be in after the tomato battle.
Surely the worlds’ biggest food-fight: every year around 30,00 people descend on the Spanish town of Bunol (in the Valencia region of Spain) to throw more than 240,000 pounds of tomatoes at each other.
The festival is started with a ham-on-a-stick contest where competitors raced up a pole to retrieve a smoked leg of ham. When the ham is cut down, people put on eye protection and cry for tomatoes as trucks dump the squishy produce onto the village streets. They then proceed to pelt each other with them until all have been used up.