Everything you need to know if you’re planning a visit to La Tomatina, and probably some stuff you don’t need to know but we think it’s interesting!
What is La Tomatina?
Tomatina is basically the biggest food fight in the world. Imagine 30,000 people jammed into a small Spanish town throwing tomatoes at each other for an hour. In a nutshell that’s La Tomatina.
When is La Tomatina?
La Tomatina takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year. You should arrive as early as possible as the event can start before its scheduled 11am start!
Where is La Tomatina?
Tomatina takes place in a small village called Bunol, which is approximately 25 miles (40km) west from the cosmopolitan city of Valencia. Bunol is a very small town (population 9,000) and is most notably for having a huge cement works nearby. The old town is nice enough but lets be 100% honest, the only reason you would ever want to visit Bunol is to attend La Tomatina.
How do I get to Bunol?
You should take one of our tours! Yes we are bias, but seriously you should! You can take the train from Valencia but let us paint you a little picture. Its 1pm, La Tomatina is over and you have had an amazing time, but you are very hot (its 35 degrees) and you have tomato in places you can’t imagine! At this point you can either jump on one of our air conditioned coaches and be driven straight back to your air conditioned hotel room with power shower, or you can queue at the train station with 25,000 other people waiting for the same train (it can take hours for the train station to clear). Your only other option is to book a taxi, but believe us there will be loads of people looking for a taxi so make sure your driver will definitely wait for you!
So how did all this tomato throwing start?
As much as we would love to tell you this festival has significant historical and cultural relevance, it really does not. La Tomatina dates back to the mid 1940s but nobody really knows why. Our favourite explanation is that locals threw tomatoes at an unpopular politician during a speech. Other accounts claim people threw tomatoes at a bad musician during a performance, and a truck carrying tomatoes was involved in an accident and its load was spilt over the road. We do know for sure the event was banned during the Franco period, but restarted in the mid 1970s. Since then there has been a real appetite for tomato throwing, and the event has grown and grown.
So what actually happens on the day?
Get to Bunol early and head for the old town. From around 8am there will be people waiting for the event to start so you won’t be alone. Outside the main building in the old town, people will try and climb a large greasy pole with a Ham on the top. Technically the tomato throwing starts once somebody has released the Ham, but we have yet to see this happen. At 11am they set off a banger and large industrial trucks drive through the old town, and dump tonnes and tonnes of tomatoes onto the floor. What follows next is pretty much uncontrolled mayhem for an hour until you hear a second banger, at which point La Tomatina is over for another year.
Are there any rules?
Yes this mayhem has rules! You can’t take any glass bottles or any objects that could cause harm into the centre of La Tomatina. You must crush the tomatoes before you throw them, and you must stop throwing tomatoes when you hear the second banger. You must be very careful around the trucks, and you must not rip anybody else’s clothes. In particular the rule about not ripping clothes can be ignored, and the crowd can rip off the T-Shirts of other participants (male or female).
Is it dangerous?
There has never been an incident at La Tomatina, but if you are in the middle of a very congested crowd situation it can feel scary. There are possibly 30,000 people crammed into a very small space, and in certain places people will be jammed in and not able to move. At this point, huge trucks will drive past to deliver tomatoes so space will also need to be made for the trucks, and these particular crowd scenes can get very busy and scary. If you are claustrophobic or scared of crowds we strongly recommend you don’t join these busy areas. If you do find yourself in this situation, we suggest you stay calm and relaxed and remember it happens every year and there have been no serious incidents during the history of La Tomatina. Some parts of La Tomatina are quieter that other parts, and again if you take one of our tours your Pillow tour leaders will tell you where the best places are. We also strongly recommend you wear eye goggles to stop possible eye infections from the tomatoes, and robust strong laced up shoes as you will be standing in 6 inches of tomato juice and won’t be able to see what you are stepping on.
Is it all just about throwing Tomatoes?
Bunol is in a wine growing area, and La Tomatina is just one event in a week of festivities to celebrate grape harvests. In Bunol there are cooking competitions, live music events, and some parades, but by far the biggest day is La Tomatina. However if you join our tour, you can also visit a local wine and water festival the evening before La Tomatina.
What should I wear during La Tomatina?
As we have already said above, a pair of goggles to stop tomato juice getting into your eyes is helpful. Also strong shoes which lace up, so you don’t have to worry about what’s under the 6 inches of tomato juice. Also some sections of the crowd will rip each others T-Shirts off, so if you’re a woman be prepared with a robust sports bra or bikini top etc. Otherwise just wear an old T-Shirt and pair of shorts you are happy to put in the bin afterwards. Most important is sunblock, it will be very hot and sunny so dont forget to protect yourself!
How do I get clean after Tomatina?
As soon as the second rocket goes off, the local authorities will start hosing down the local buildings. They are far more interested in the buildings than you, but you may get lucky and have a quick spray. Otherwise you are reduced to washing in the local stream, or a better option is finding a local who is willing to spray you down with a garden hose. If your on one of our tours, we wont allow you back on the coach covered in tomato juice so you have to make one of these options work for you.
Is there anything else I should know?
We can’t think of anything, but if you have any other questions please contact us and we will get back to you asap. The last thing we will say is its really good fun and completely crazy!
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