Spain is going to make you red like a tomato, but it won’t be because of too much sun exposure. It will be because you’re awesome enough to participate in La Tomatina, perhaps the craziest, definitely the most fun, traditional festival in the world. Taking place this year on August 28, in the Valencia province town of Buñol, La Tomatina is a gigantic food fight that involves over a hundred metric tons of tomatoes being thrown around – and at your face. ShBarcelona will tell you more in this article today.
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A speculative history of chaotic tomato-throwing
This famous Spanish tradition started around 60 years ago for reasons unknown but the theories are many. Maybe Buñol was attacked by aliens whose only weakness was tomatoes, maybe friends engaged in a food fight that quickly grew out of proportion, maybe a meteorological anomaly made tomatoes rain from the sky. Who knows? Whatever the reason for its creation, there is one strong reason why it has been going on for so many years: it’s really, really fun. Due to the fact that it initially had no religious significance, the festival was banned during the Franco regime. It started again in the 70s and slowly began to gain international popularity. Nowadays, the festival is dedicated to Buñol’s patron saints, Luis Bertrán and the Virgin Mary.
The actual event doesn’t last for long, but we’re sure your memories of it will. It all starts at around 11 in the morning, with a race to grab a ham placed on top of a greasy pole. Once someone grabs the ham, the tomato fight is on, lasting for an entire hour. It’s then time to clean up. Fire trucks will spray down the streets and the participants, but since there are so many people drenched in tomatoes, the town’s inhabitants usually help by hosing down the streets as well.
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Tickets – Because the event used to attract crowds of over 50,000 people, which was deemed too much for a town with only 9000 citizens, tickets are now limited to “just” 20,000 people. If you’re interested in going, we recommend that you get them as soon as you can at the official La Tomatina website. There’s a ticket which includes the bus ride from Barcelona (and back), currently available for 99€. This includes a guided tour and some other perks. Getting to the festival from Barcelona on your own – A drive from Barcelona to La Tomatina will take you around 3 hours and 45 minutes. First, get on the B-20/C-32 from Carrer de Sepúlveda, C-31 and Exit 195A. Then, follow the C-32 and the E-15/AP-7 to Comunidad Valenciana. Take exit 322 from E-901/A-3 and you’re almost there! Just take Ctra. Madrid-Valencia to Calle Méndez Núñez in Buñol and after around 30 more minutes you will have arrived at your destination. There are also bus, train and even flying options to get from Barcelona to Buñol, check them out and pick what’s best for you. That’s about it, you are now ready to get a bunch of tomatoes thrown at you – and hopefully get a good shot or two as well. Remember to be safe and respect the rules of La Tomatina.
*Main photo by grahammclellan via Visualhunt
Have you been to La Tomatina before? Any advice?