Unique Places in the World: La Tomatina Festival in Buñol, Spain
A Food Fight of Epic Proportions
Buñol, Spain, west of Valencia is one of the most unique places to visit in Spain. The last Wednesday of August, visitors from all over the world flood into a town of about 10,000 people to celebrate La Tomatina, the Tomato Festival.
This festival is part of a week long celebration full of parades, dances, and other fun events. It began in 1945, and according to the official Tomatina website, the origin of the festival isn't clearly known. There are several theories about how it all began. One is that the town threw tomatoes at an official who was unpopular. Another is that it was a protest of some kind, but whatever the origin, it has become a lasting tradition that brings people to a tiny town from all over the world!
The Festival: An Hour of Awesome Sauce
To begin the festivities, everyone gathers in the plaza at the Calle De Cid. A ham is hung on a greased pole called the palo jabón. Someone must release the ham to begin the food fight. Large dump trucks containing tons of tomatoes wait to release their loads until someone can climb the pole. A cannon sounds and for one hour, the town turns to chaos as thousands of people throw tomatoes at each other!
Some advice: Wear goggles and old clothes!
There are official rules of participation that have developed over the years. The official tomatina website has 5 of them that help make the event safe and fun!
1. You have to smash the tomato in your hand before you throw it. (Injury prevention)
2. You cannot throw t-shirts or clothing.
3. You are not allowed to bring any glass bottles/containers to the site.
4. Watch out for the vehicles.
5. After the second cannon sounds, all tomato throwing must cease.
So the next time you visit Spain, check out one of the coolest festivals around! Stay for the week if you want to experience the entire range of festivities surrounding La Tomatina, and enjoy your travels!