La Tomatina Festival

A novel way to clean the streets of your town or village is to hold a huge tomato fight, and that's just what they do in the town of Buñol where each year they hold the famous La Tomatina Festival. Regarded as the largest tomato fight in the world, La Tomatina has been a tradition in Buñol since the mid 1940's and continues to grow each year to the extent that the town's population of 9,000 residents swells to over 40,000 on the day of La Tomatina and an estimated 145,000 kg of tomatoes are thrown during the one hour fight.

La Tomatina Festival
Source: Flickr / James OBrien II

The Origins Of La Tomatina

There are many theories as to how the festival originated but regardless of the theories, the participants that come from all over the world are there to have fun, and in 2002 La Tomatina Festival was declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest. In its early years the tomatoes for La Tomatina were supplied by the townsfolk but as its popularity grew the town council made the festival official and from then on supplied all the tomatoes. A wise idea as the festival generates revenue for the town and the acidity in the tomatoes, which are literally ankle deep by the end of the fight, cleans the streets wonderfully.

La Tomatina Festival

The last week of August is when Buñol holds its yearly festivals and La Tomatina Festival is held on the last Wednesday of August, but many of the die hard participants arrive earlier in the week to enjoy all the fiestas. Due to its ever increasing popularity, for safety reasons the town council now issue tickets to the festival in order to monitor the crowds. On the morning of the festival trucks laden with tomatoes park in the town centre and participants start gathering in the narrow streets around 11am. A greasy wooden pole known as the ‘palo jabón is erected and a large ham is placed on top of the pole. All-comers then get a chance to try to climb to the top and claim the prize which signals the start of the fight.

The chaos then begins as it's every person for themselves in a massive free for all tomato fight which lasts an hour and literally paints the town red. A cannon shot signals the fight is coming to an end and after a second cannon shot no more tomatoes are to be thrown. During the fight the tomatoes must be squashed before being thrown and grappling or pulling of participants clothing is frowned upon. At the end of the fight fire trucks hose the walls and streets down and participants try to clean themselves up as best they can. The party atmosphere continues through the day and into the night, with many revellers heading for nearby Valencia where further after parties are held.

Transport & Accommodation

Buñol is about 170 kilometres from Benidorm and takes around an 1 hr 45 mins by car. Many revellers organise accommodation in Valencia which is about 40 kilometres from Buñol and take the train from Valencia Central Station which runs hourly on the day of the festival. Alternatively there is a campsite called La Granjita about 10 kilometres away in the town of Chiva where you can hire a tent and bedding with the option of having meals included.

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