Made famous in India by the Bollywood movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, the Spanish festival of La Tomatina is a week-long fiesta with music and dancing, parades, and fireworks. Every year, around 30,000 people gather in the town of Bunol in Valencia, Spain, for this fun food-fight. Participants battle it out in the town square pelting over-ripe tomatoes all around!
The Story Behind It
There is no concrete evidence why this tradition was started sometime in 1945. Some claim it started off as a harmless food fight between friends while others say it originated as an anti-Franco protest. Held on the last Wednesday of August, over the decades, the number of participants has kept on increasing. Rules and restrictions were formulated during the course of time, and in 2002 the event was declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest by the country’s Tourism Department. Since 2014, an entry fee is charged, and the number of participants has been capped for safety purposes.
What Happens There
Simply put, it’s a free for all as the world’s biggest tomato fight goes on for about an hour! Participants must first try to get their hands on a leg of ham that is suspended from a greased pole called a Palojabon. Winners are keepers, and the Ham goes home with the person who takes it down. Once the ham is taken down, the firing of cannons heralds the start of the fight. Around 145,000 kilos of tomatoes are brought in trucks to be used in this fight which covers the town square, Plaza del Pueblo, in tomato paste. At the end of it, another cannon is fired, and fire trucks hose down the participants while some head for the Bunol River to clean themselves up.
Rules of the Fight
• Only tomatoes can be used, and no other objects can be thrown.
• The tomatoes thrown must be squashed, or else it might lead to bruising.
• Give way to trucks and lorries that ferry tomatoes and water to the venue.
• Once the second canon shot is fired, no more tomatoes are to be hurled.
• Tearing clothes of others is not acceptable.
It is advisable for participants of La Tomatina to equip themselves with safety goggles and gloves. Closed shoes are a better choice than flip flops which can get lost in the fray. Make sure you leave your camera at the hotel to avoid damage or invest in one which is waterproof!
A sleepy town nestled amongst rambling mountain ranges, Bunol comes into its own in August. One can feel the excitement with which both locals and tourists look forward to the La Tomatina. The week before the day of La Tomatina sees numerous activities including a paella cooking competition. Tuck into this fragrant Spanish staple, and gear up for a memorable experience on a visit to the world’s biggest food-fight. GoFro makes sure you enjoy every bit of your Spanish adventure with a curated itinerary designed keeping your holiday preferences in mind.