la tomatina is a gastronomic fight festival that is held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of buñol (history) near valencia in spain. thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the globe to fight in this ‘world’s largest food fight’ where over a hundred metric tons of overripe tomatoes are dumped onto the streets.
prior to 2013, between 40,000 and 50,000 (reported 50,000 in 2012) would huddle together in this huge tomato fight, vastly expanding the normal bunol population of 9,000 people . since 2013, official ticket sales have been in effect limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky ones.
there is limited accommodation for people coming to la tomatina, so many people opt for the easier option of staying in nearby valencia, just 38 km from bunol by bus or train . in preparation for the messy mess to come, shopkeepers use huge plastic covers on their storefronts to protect them from the carnage.
when is tomatina
- la tomatina 2023: August 30
- la tomatina 2024: August 28
- la tomatina 2025: August 27
- Do not bring bottles or hard objects as they can cause accidents and hurt other participants
- don’t rip other people’s t-shirts
- you should crush the tomatoes before throwing them as this reduces the impact
- make sure you keep a safe distance from trucks
- As soon as you hear the second shot, you should stop throwing tomatoes
- Wear closed shoes that you don’t mind throwing away afterwards. if you wear flip flops, you can easily get hurt or lose them during battle
- wear old clothes or clothes you don’t plan to wear again. they will most likely end up damaged by being ripped or incredibly dirty
- You may find the glasses useful. however, it’s safer if you just make sure you always have something clean to wipe your eyes with. it is best to tuck the shirt into the shorts to keep the bottom of the shirt clean and dry
- if you plan to take pictures, bring a waterproof camera!
- if you’re not from bunol, and you want to spend the night, don’t forget to find and secure accommodation in advance
- don’t miss the palojabon – a greased stick with a Spanish ham on top. whoever can climb the pole and get the ham gets to keep it!
- stay safe and enjoy the festivities as much as possible
what happens at la tomatina
Around 11 a.m., many trucks transport the abundance of tomatoes to the center of the city, the town square. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are cheaper. technically, the festival doesn’t begin until a brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story-high, oiled wooden pole and reached for the coveted ham at the top. In practice, this process takes a long time and the festival starts despite the fact that no one reaches the juicy prize. the signal for the start of the fight is the firing of water cannons and chaos ensues. once it begins, the battle is usually every man for himself.
after an hour the fight ends. at this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. the cleanup process involves the use of fire trucks to fumigate the streets, with water provided by a Roman aqueduct. The authorities seem more concerned with the cleanliness of the town than with the visitors, so some people find water in the Bunol River to wash themselves, although some friendly neighbors hose down passers-by. once the tomato pulp is rinsed, the soil is clean due to the acidity of the tomato.
the rules of tomatina
how tomatina started
The Tomato Wrestling has been a strong tradition in Bunol since 1944 or 1945. No one is entirely sure how this event originated. Possible theories for how the tomatina began include a local food fight between friends, a youth class war, a barrage of tomatoes from passers-by at a carnival parade, a joke about a bad musician, and the lawless aftermath of a spilled truck. accidentally.
One popular theory is that disgruntled townspeople attacked councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration. no matter what happened to start the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the following year, and the following year, and so on. The festival was banned during the period of the Spanish state under Francisco Franco for having no religious significance, but returned in the 1970s after his death.
the festival is in honor of the patron saints of the town, luis bertran and the mare de deu dels desemparats (mother of god of the defenseless), invocation of the virgin mary.
buñol is a city and municipality in the province of valencia, spain and is located approximately 38 km west of valencia. read about the history of buñol
there are several ways to get to valencia from london. If you book well in advance, availability to Valencia is good and flights are quite competitive. easyjet flies from london stansted, london gatwick and bristol. Ryanair flies from London Stansted, Liverpool, East Midlands and Dublin. clickair flies from london heathrow. iberia fly from london heathrow
where to stay
get to bunol and lodging for la tomatina