La Tomatina – Let’s paint the town red!
On the last Wednesday of August every year, the streets of the little Spanish town of Buñol in Valencia are deluged by a sea of bright red tomato slush. Alas, the townsfolk aren’t making giant Bloody Marys, they’re hosting the annual La Tomatina festival, a fun-filled fete of tomato-throwing.
Billed as the biggest food fight in the world, participants throng the streets and pelt each other with overripe tomatoes making it the messiest and undoubtedly one of the most fun Spanish festivals!
What started as a local street fight during a parade in 1945 has escalated into a massive festival that attracts people from all over the world. After varying attempts by the authorities in subsequent years to put a halt to it, the event became officially sanctioned in 1957 as it garnered increasing popularity.
This year’s festival will be held on 26th August and if you’re planning to go to La Tomatina 2015 then these tips, put together by the Flexicover Team may come in handy.
Where to stay
Buñol is a small town, with a population of about 9,000 people. La Tomatina sees about 30,000 participants and visitors descend on the town. Getting accommodation in Buñol is next to impossible, so most tourists book rooms in the hostels and hotels in and around Valencia, then travel to Buñol just for the tomato festival. There are even a number of packages available from various specialist travel agencies that provide accommodation, transport to Buñol and back, visits to the beach, La Tomatina tickets, tours of Valencia and entry to the legendary after party in Valencia.
Buñol is about 40km from Valencia and you can get to the town by car, bus or train. Valencia Central station has hourly trains to Buñol. This journey only takes around 50 minutes but make sure you get into town as early as possible, as it will get quite crowded. Buses are a great option as well but, if you’re actually taking part in the festival, ensure you change before travelling back to avoid making a mess. Plus getting in to Buñol early is good since there’s usually a street party that begins by 6am as the excitement builds to the main event with lots of sangria generously flowing.
What to expect
The actual tomato flinging during this Spanish tomato festival lasts for just one hour… but what an hour it is! At 11am, the first signal is given, lorries filled with several metric tonnes of tomatoes roll into the Plaza del Pueblo and the tomato throwing begins in earnest. Before that is the great tradition of palo jabon where ham is attached to the top of a greased pole, then people try to climb the pole to get to the pork while the crowd sings songs and cheers them on. By midday a second signal goes off marking the end of the fight. The crowd then proceeds to the pubic showers or are hosed down by locals.
What to carry
Make sure to carry a change of clothes, you’ll really need it once you shower. And you probably don’t want to wear anything you’re too attached to for this epic food fight, as acids present in that much tomato juice may have detrimental effects on some fabrics. The juices can also sting your eyes and as it’s practically impossible to avoid a face full of tomato pulp, swimming goggles or snorkel masks wouldn’t go amiss. Carry a waterproof backpack as the line to officially check bags and coats is always very long. A waterproof camera cover or a cheap disposable camera is a good idea to capture your memories of La Tomatina.
Rules and Safety
There have never been any seriously untoward incidents so far thanks to the simple common sense rules in place. You’re not allowed to bring bottles or throw anything other than tomatoes. Ripping of clothing is banned and everyone is advised to hand-crush tomatoes before throwing them. You’re expected to stay out of harm’s way when the tomato trucks take to the roads and when the second signal is given, absolutely everyone must stop throwing tomatoes. The main unspoken rule, of course, is to behave respectfully towards everyone and just have fun!
Whether you’re going sightseeing in Spain or celebrating Spanish festivals in 2015, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.