LA TOMATINA - THE WORLD'S LARGEST FOOD FIGHT
Ever since hearing about the event when I was young, I had always wanted to go to La Tomatina. I made the decision to head to La Tomatina alone in 2012 and loved the event so much I went back with friends in 2013.
La Tomatina is without a doubt one of the best traditional cultural festivals I have ever been to. The vibe, the people, the sangria, the mess, the fun!
Every year on the last Wednesday of August approximately 30,000 people descend on the tiny town of Buñol, roughly 40 minutes drive from Valencia. Houses are covered in plastic tarpaulins, locals fill the balconies above and the town becomes alive whilst waiting for 40 tonnes of tomatoes to make their way down Calle Cid and into Plaza Del Pueblo. This is certainly one epic hour of pure 'every person for themselves' food fight madness.
2012 was a bit of a free for all. There was no entry fee, the crowd swelled past 40,000 on a 37-degree day and there weren't any checks to reduce the amount of glass taken to the festival. In 2013 due to safety concerns and crowd capacity, the festival was regulated. You now purchase a ticket to gain entry to the festival (€10EUR - $15AUD), a glass check-point and entry point has been established, and the crowd has been limited to 20,000 people. As a result, it ended up being a much better day overall.
Both years I booked tours with PP Travel. The day begins early with a 7 am meeting time outside the hotel in Valencia to board the coach and travel to the festival. In Buñol the coach drop off and pick up area for all tour companies is roughly a 30-minute walk from the location of the festival. Disembarking the bus in Buñol around 8 am you join thousands of people walking towards Old Town. Once there everyone packs into the narrow street of Calle cid and at 10 am the extra adventurous begin to take turns at attempting to climb the Palo Jabón (a slippery, long wooden pole slathered in lard with a ham placed at the top) whilst the crowd sings, dances and gets showered in water from hoses and buckets. Once the ham is knocked down, the first signal for the battle rings. Water cannons are fired, the smell of tomatoes fills the air and the trucks begin to head down the crowded street. This generally happens just before 11 am. If the crowd fails and the ham remains the signal and water cannons will fire at 11 am and the tomato battle begins regardless.
Throwing faster than you can think, everybody becomes a target. Generally the tomatoes are crushed (or given a courtesy crush by the thrower) and will not cause injury, however on the odd throw, especially when you travel with my friend Barry, you are bound to be hit in the head at close range with a solid tomato. Not only does your body hurt at the end of the hour, your face also hurts from laughing and smiling so much.
LA TOMATINA DOS & DONT'S
RULES OF THE FESTIVAL
Rules cited from Wikipedia: La Tomatina
The city council follows a short list of instructions for the safety of the participants and the festival:
The following is a small selection of tour providers operating tours to the festival:
If you decide to head in by car or train, you can find travel and ticket information at latomatina.info