The La Tomatina Festival is a popular event held every year in Spain. It is a food fight festival and here we are going to discuss it. The festival takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year. For this reason, the date isn’t specific to this festival. It is celebrated in the small town of Bunol, near Valencia, Spain. This festival is known as the world’s biggest food festival, where people from all corners of the world gather to celebrate it.
The popularity of this festival is due to the use of tomatoes to paint the roads of the town red. Yes, you heard it right. People squeeze and throw tomatoes at each other to celebrate the food festival. It is a one-day event and for a day the town is all red. The town of Bunol has an approx population of 10,000 people but during this festival the count doubles or triples itself. From the year 2013, the festival got some new rules for visitors. The first one was you need to buy tickets for the festival as now, only 20,000 lucky people can participate here.
History of La Tomatina Festival
Everything has a start and so does this festival. The food festival of Bunol, Spain started sometime in the year 1944 or 1945. Even though there isn’t any constructive evidence regarding the commencement of the festival. The local people state that it all initiated with a food fight. So, the initial story is that a group of juvenile kids got into a food fight where they used tomatoes as a medium of attack. This food fight, later on, got to be known as La Tomatina.
On the other hand, another theory also revolves around this food fight festival. It is said that the local people attacked the councilmen of the city with tomatoes. The origin of the festival is still unknown to the world. Keeping these things aside, the festival is celebrated every year and you will enjoy a day in Bunol if you are lucky enough to be a part of this festival. Bunol is situated at a distance of 38 km from Valencia. To attend the festival you need to travel to Valencia and then a 45 minutes journey to the destination.
The Event Day
Bunol looks very different on the day of the food fight festival. The centre of the town, Plaza del Pueblo is where the actual festival occurs. The event starts at11:00 am and trucks loaded with fresh tomatoes roll in here to unload the stock. As much as 40 metrictons of tomatoes are used every year for the festival. These tomatoes are extracted from the tomatoes tress of Extremadura.
The La Tomatina Festival starts with one person climbing a two-storey high wooden pole to get the ham placed on top of it. Then the festival starts with a signal made by firing water cannons. The food fight continues for an hour where people squeeze the fresh tomatoes and throw at each other. After an hour the streets are filled with crushed tomatoes. Next, the cleaning process starts which involves the use of fire trucks. These trucks spray water on the streets and on the people to clean it all. It is more like cleaning the town along with the people and participants.
Rules of La Tomatina
- You cannot carry any plastic objects, metals or hard objects that can harm or hurt people
- Participants are not allowed to rip t-shirts and touch someone inappropriately
- You must squeeze the tomato so that it doesn’t hurt anyone
- It is recommended to keep a safe distance from the trucks
- Once the food fight is over, you must stop throwing tomatoes
La Tomatina Facts
- World’s largest food festival
As mentioned and discussed before, this is the world’s largest food festival. People visit the town of Bunol for this event every year to pelt tomatoes. Also, you get to enjoy some of the best recipes in Spain too.
- Combined festival
The festival has a weeklong preparation filled with parades, fireworks and massive Paella cooking contests in the town.
- Street Brawl
The festival is more of a street brawl because people fight in a friendly manner to celebrate the day. They throw crushed tomatoes and enjoy the day. There is a massive parade and also a huge feast for the day.
- A slice of ham initiates the fight
A two-storey long greasy wooden pole stands straight with a slice of ham on its top. Anyone who gets hold of the slice of ham commences the festival. Meanwhile, the people sing, cheer and dance to express their joy. It is a beautiful event to experience and you need to be lucky enough to witness it. The moment the ham is pulled down from the tip of the pole, a loud signal announces the beginning of the chaos.
- 40 metric tons of tomatoes are used.
The one-hour long fight uses up to 40 metric tons of tomatoes. The tomatoes used in the food fight are available at a cheaper price in Extremadura. These tomatoes are cheap because they are not of the best quality.
- The Citrus Effect
As tomatoes are acidic in nature, it helps in cleaning the streets of the town. The festival serves dual purposes, one is the celebration and the other is the cleaning. Once the festival is over, fire trucks wash off the tomatoes from the streets with water. As a result, the streets are clean and disinfected too.
- Recreation of La Tomatina Festival
The festival origins from Spain but currently, due to its popularity, it is celebrated in some other parts of the world too. Specifically, it is celebrated in Costa Rica, Nevada, Columbia, and Chicago. It was celebrated for a year in Bangalore, India as well.
You should try to attend this festival once in your lifetime. It is not only a great experience but an everlasting memory too. It is more of a skin rejuvenation therapy as tomatoes have greater skin and health benefits.