La Tomatina

You thought running with bulls during the San Fermin festivities is crazy? Then you probably never heard of La Tomatina. In this celebration people gather in the centre of the city to throw as many tomatoes at each other as they can for an entire hour. There is neither a real purpose for this custom nor is it a national holiday but this tradition has been going on for more than 50 years and it is still gaining popularity.

Starting around 11 in the morning, huge trucks bring almost 150 tons of tomatoes into the city centre. Once the water cannons are fired as a beginning signal there are no sides anymore. Everybody is fighting for himself against everybody else. Shopkeepers try to protect themselves and their business from the mush with massive plastic covers and after the one hour fight, the cleaning process of the streets immediately starts. While the city council is very concerned about cleaning the town, public showers are limited and most people just wash themselves in the Buñol River.

the cleaning up afterwards is hard work and takes a lot of time

A bit of history
The tradition of the famous tomato fight goes back to the year 1945 when some young boys decided to go watch a parade in the main square of the city. To have a better view they started pushing people aside to get right in front of the parade. This impetus caused people to fall and in the grip of anger some people started throwing things around. They grabbed vegetables of a close-by street market and began to throw groceries onto each other. Soon other people joined and a huge food fight broke out. People mostly threw tomatoes at each other because they have a great shape for throwing, they aren’t too hard and they leave big stains on other’s clothes. The following year, the boys who started the battle brought tomatoes from home to voluntarily start the fight again. Although the police dissolved the recent tradition, the boys, without knowing anything, had made history.

this is one of the trucks that brings the most important items to the event:
the tomatoes

La Tomatina was banned in the early 50’s during the Franco regime, but still, this ban didn’t stop all participants from keeping the tradition alive, which resulted in many arrests at first. However, after protesting each year, the festival was allowed again in 1957 and has been celebrated ever since. Funnily enough, the tomato fight was totally unknown by the rest of the country until 1983, when Spanish journalist Javier Basilio, made a report that broadcast on national television. Since then, the number of participants and enthusiasm of La Tomatina has increased year by year. The success has led to La Tomatina de Buñol being declared Festival of International Tourist Interest by the General Secretariat of Tourism in 2002. Nowadays there is a limited number of tickets available for the festivity in order to keep the event organized and controlled. Since 2013, there is a maximum of 20.000 tickets available and they are sold out every year several months in advance.

after one hour of throwing tomatoes the whole town is one big, red mess

Some rules to keep in mind
People who participate in the battle need to pay attention to some basic rules in order to guarantee a fair and fun fight for everyone. It is hard to control such a crazy and entertaining event and therefore everybody should stick to these easy rules so no one gets hurt and can enjoy the festival to its fullest.
  • Purposely wear ugly/old clothes and shoes!
This one is probably very obvious but tomatoes make really bad stains and you will be covered in red mush all over. So don’t even consider washing or re-wearing your Tomatina clothes. 
  • Do not bring valuable items!
Leave your electronic devices like iPads or mobile phones at home, because it is easy to either drop them in the tomato mush on the street, make them wet and covered in tomatoes or lose them. All you need is some cash, so for the safety of your camera, phone or ID just don’t bring them to the hour of the battle.
  • Try to keep your eyes clean!
Wearing goggles is a great idea. In case you don’t have any you can also tuck your t-shirt into your shorts to make sure you always have a clean part of your clothes to wipe your eyes, as your hands are going to be completely dirty.
  • Treat others with respect!
Remember, that this battle is purely held to have fun and go a little crazy together, so don’t be ruthless and think about others. Always squeeze the tomatoes a bit before throwing them as this makes them softer. Also do not tear anybody’s t-shirt and never throw anything else than tomatoes!
Other than that, try to have as much fun as possible and enjoy every second of this unusual tradition.
If you are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, go get your ticket for La Tomatina and participate in the world’s biggest food fight. You will not regret it!
Do not hesitate to contact us to ask for our festival packages to get one of the highly requested tickets.