Less than 20 miles from the sunny Mediterranean city of Valencia lies the village of Buñol. Despite its small size, it has become quite famous thanks to one of its peculiar traditions: La Tomatina
, the world’s biggest tomato food fight. The charming village erupts into a frenzy of tomato hurling on the last Wednesday of every August.
LA FIESTA DE LA TOMATINA
takes place during a week-long celebration filled with non-stop festivities and the ever-present anticipation of the monstrous tomato battle
that puts a climactic end to the week's events.
During the week leading up to this epic food fight, the 9,000 inhabitants of Buñol watch as their town doubles in size. A whole week of parades, fireworks, food, and street parties
make this town the center of attention in all of Spain. The night before La Tomatina
, the town’s narrow medieval streets begin to fill with the smell of tomatoes.
In the early morning of the last Wednesday in August, shopkeepers and business owners along the Plaza Mayor set about covering windows and doors in preparation for what’s to come. Large trucks rumble up the cobblestone streets and arrive in the crowd-filled square ready to unload their haul of tomatoes to be used as ammunition. Like many Spanish fiestas, La Tomatina begins with the sound of an exploding bottle rocket
, which signals that it’s time to start throwing. Townspeople unload the tomatoes from the back of the trucks and begin pelting the crowd with some of the 120 tons of tomatoes.
Soon the streets are awash in seeds, pulp, and tomato guts
that will shortly leave the cobblestoned streets spotless — thanks to the acidity of the tomatoes — after being hosed down with water. This insanity ensues for exactly one hour until it ends the same way it began — with the sound of a bottle rocket.
If you plan on participating in this epic battle, be aware that there is now a limit to people that can participate (20,000), so book your spot ahead of time. Also, if you’re thinking of taking pictures for posterity, remember: anyone with a camera will be considered a prime target.
- It takes place on the last Wednesday of every August.
- It’s not linked to history or religion, it’s just for fun.
- About 20,000 people participate, hailing from all around the world.
- Approximately 120 metric tons of tomatoes are used.
- When the battle is over, you can wash off at the public showers by the river.
- Surprisingly, only 8% of participants are Spanish. The countries with the most tomateros are Australia, Japan, Great Britain, and the US.