La Tomatina Tomato Fight, Buñol Valencia

Published on 07/06/2011 in Spanish Culture

La Tomatina (the Tomato Party) is the name of the famous Tomato fight that happens every year in Buñol, Valencia, Spain. It occurs as part of the festival on that day, which takes place every year on the last Wednesday in August. The festival itself warms up during the week before the tomato fight with lots of partying and also a paella cooking contest the night before.

The festival starts with a "palo jabon" whereby a pole is greased and a ham is placed at the top. The aim is to climb the pole and knock the ham off, thereby signalling the start of the tomato festival and fight. The tomato fight usually starts at about 11am, once the ham has been knocked off and a shot is sounded or water cannon started. Crushed tomatoes are then thrown at the crowds of people waiting from large trucks. The trucks usually start in the Plaza del Pueblo area. The actual tomato fight usually only lasts about an hour and the end of the fight is signalled by a single shot into the air or the water cannons are switched back on, announcing the end.

La tomatina BuñolThousands of people line the streets to experience La Tomatina, with thousands of tourists visiting the area or taking escorted trips to the town of Buñol just to experience La Tomatina Festival, such has its popularity grown. There are so many people on the day of the festival that if you attend you may not actually get to see the trucks in the centre of the town throwing the tomatoes into the crowd. However, the streets all around are lined with partygoers and the atmosphere is lively and electric. Many people attending the festival wear goggles and gloves to help protect themselves from the tomatoes and tomato juice that covers every building and street in the area. It's advised if you plan to attend to take a set of clean clothes to change into afterwards!

After the tomato fight has ended, the streets are washed clean using fire trucks and hoses and they sparkle from the being cleaned by the acidity of the tomato juice. The partying goes on into the night afterwards as the festival goers congregate in Buñol and Valencia.

La Tomatina is thought to have originated around the 1950's although there is debate as to how the original festival and fight first started. What is clear is that the town council tried to ban it a number of times, finally agreeing to the tomato fight in 1959 as long as the fight started and ended at agreed times with the sound of a shot/horn was sounded. There are a number of rules now in place to ensure safety/security of the participants which are:

  • Bottles or other items that could cause harm are not allowed
  • T-shirts must not be torn
  • You must stop when the second shot/horn/bang/water cannon is sounded
  • The tomatoes must be crushed before being thrown
  • You must carefully avoid the lorries carrying the tomatoes so as to ensure you don't get run over/hurt.

La tomatina tomato fightAs the town of Buñol only houses about 9000 people there is limited accommodation for the tens of thousands of people attending the tomato fight. Many tourists book cheap package holidays to Valencia instead and then make their way to Buñol via train, bus or car in the morning of the festival. Some tour operators even offer La Tomatina short break holiday packages to the festival with hotels and transfers included plus souvenir t-shirts.

Top Tips

  • Wear old clothes that you don't mind never wearing again
  • Bring a change of clothes (there are public showers in Buñol)
  • Check out the timetable of local trains/buses beforehand and plan ahead as it will be very busy!
  • Book your accommodation early especially if you want to stay in Buñol as it gets booked up very quickly
  • Wear shoes or trainers that you don't mind getting covered in tomato juice and that have a good grip
  • Wear goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands from the acidic tomato juice and to help you grip.

Written by: Emma Healey

About the author:

Emma Healey is the co-founder and owner of holidayholiday.co.uk, specialists in holiday packages and last minute holidays to worldwide destination. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and be sure to watch out for more of my articles as I'm writing many travel blogs and have some great topics coming soon.




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