The Tomatina festival that is celebrated every year in the Valencian town of Buñol is one of the most famous festivals worldwide.
When is La Tomatina celebrated? It is always celebrated on the same day, the last Wednesday of August of each year and consists of a battle where neighbors and tourists throw tomatoes at each other until the intense red color of the tomatoes invades all the streets of the center of Buñol.
What is the origin of the Tomatina festival?
Despite being one of the best known festivals, the origins of La Tomatina are not entirely clear and there are several versions:
The most widespread story tells that on the last Wednesday of August 1945, during a parade of giants and big-heads, a group of young people from the village wanted to participate in the festive procession and, because they were forbidden to do so, they pushed the participants and made one of them fall. This man, very angry, began to throw everything within his reach. In response, the young men grabbed tomatoes from a vegetable stand and began throwing them, sparking a tomato war that ended when law enforcement stopped the battle. The following year they repeated the act and thus began the tradition.
Some say that its origin is due to a joke on a man who sang in the town square. A group of young people who heard him began to throw tomatoes at him from a vegetable stand because he was not doing too well and, as a consequence, the rest of the people in the place decided to join in and a tomato battle was formed.
The celebration was forbidden during the 50’s, but in 1957 they celebrated the “tomato burial” which consisted of a demonstration in which the neighbors, accompanied by a music band playing funeral marches, carried a coffin with a big tomato inside. With this act they managed to establish the festival officially. Since then, it has been held every year, except for the two last years due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Today, La Tomatina has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest because people from all over the world come, year after year, to enjoy one of the most peaceful battles in the world along with the Battle of Flowers.
Where La Tomatina is celebrated
The battle is held in the center of Buñol, a town located about 40 kilometers away from Valencia, among its narrow streets, being the town square the most central and most crowded point. The unloading of tomatoes is done little by little. Do you know how many tomatoes are thrown in this unique battle? Last year 150,000 kg were thrown, distributed in 6 trucks of 25,000 kg each.
Phases of La tomatina
The soap stick
At 10:00 am the first event of La Tomatina begins. It is the “palo jabón” which consists of climbing a greased pole with a ham on top and whoever manages to reach it takes it home. The rest of the people stay around showering with hoses.
The tomato war
The starting signal is given at 11:00h, when a carcass sounds and the battle begins. Several trucks cross the streets and throw tomatoes in abundance through the streets and town squares. Participants must wear white clothes. For an hour tomatoes are thrown. At 12:00h a second shell ends the battle and the whole square is dyed red and rivers of tomato juice are formed.
The process of cleaning the streets begins and is carried out by fire trucks. The participants in the tomatina take advantage of the hoses that the neighbors give them to remove the tomato stuck to the body. Some go to the river to wash themselves. After the cleaning, the streets of the town are shiny because the acidity of the tomato disinfects and thoroughly cleans all surfaces.
Basic rules and advice to ensure the safety of the participants
- No one is allowed to enter with backpacks, bags, cameras or any object that could cause damage. No bottles or hard objects that could cause accidents to the participants are allowed.
- Before starting the battle, it is advisable to know the evacuation routes in case of emergency.
- As it is considered a dangerous event for minors, parents are responsible for their access to the site. If parents are with their children, it is advisable for them to never let them out of sight, write a contact telephone number on their arm, tell them to go to an employee of the organization if they get lost and keep them away from the trucks. Even so, the participation of children under 16 years of age is not recommended.
- If you will consume alcoholic beverages during the Tomatina, do it in moderation and drink plenty of water.
- It is advisable to protect yourself from sun damage.
- Do not tear or throw T-shirts.
- Respect the no parking signs and if you are driving a vehicle, be extremely careful due to the number of pedestrians.
- It is important to crush the tomatoes before throwing them so that the impact is lower and. While the battle is going on, keep a safe distance from the tomato trucks and pay attention to the bridge area.
- Once the second carcass is fired, at around 12 noon, it is not allowed to continue throwing tomatoes.
- Throughout the municipality are enabled water points marked to wash and remove the remains of the tomato.
We recommend you to visit Buñol and NOT miss this unique and popular festival of La Tomatina. Remember that this year it will take place on Wednesday, August 31, 2022.