La Tomatina festival
Welcome to the world’s largest food fight! This page will introduce you to La Tomatina, Spain’s world famous tomato-throwing festival.
Skip ahead to these sections:
- What is La Tomatina?
- Where does La Tomatina take place?
- How do you get tickets to La Tomatina?
- When is La Tomatina?
- What takes place during La Tomatina?
- The history of La Tomatina
- La Tomatina rules
- La Tomatina accommodation tips
What is La Tomatina?
La Tomatina is an epic tomato-throwing festival that happens on the last Wednesday of August each year. Around 20,000 people pack into a small Spanish town to throw 140 tons of tomatoes at each other. It’s messy, exciting, and one of the best times you can have!
Where does La Tomatina take place?
La Tomatina takes place in the small town of Buñol, Spain. Buñol is located just outside of Valencia, a city known for, ironically, their oranges. So much produce.
How do you get tickets to La Tomatina?
Because of the overwhelming popularity of this festival and the fact that Buñol is only so big (so small actually), limits have been places on the number of people allowed to attend La Tomatina.
This is done by way of a ticketing system. To acquire your tickets to La Tomatina, purchase from the official La Tomatina website.
When is La Tomatina?
La Tomatina takes place each year on the last Wednesday in August with official festivities beginning at 10 am.
La Tomatina dates
Here are the dates for La Tomatina for the next five years:
- La Tomatina 2021: Wednesday, August 25th
- La Tomatina 2022: Wednesday, August 31st
- La Tomatina 2023: Wednesday, August 30th
- La Tomatina 2024: Wednesday, August 28th
- La Tomatina 2025: Wednesday, August 27th
What takes place during La Tomatina?
The first challenge of the event is the pablo jabon or “greasy pole.” And, YES it is just that. Worked up by a frenzied crowd who dance and sing, participants scramble up a slippery pole in order to knock off the ham suspended at the top.
Once achieved, blasts of water shot by fire trucks as they make their entry into the plaza signals the beginning of the tomato fight.
From the trucks ensue tomato after tomato in ruthless fury. It lasts for an hour, whereupon a signal ends the event. At this point you have what looks more like a mass murder than a mass food fight: the streets of the plaza run red with tomato juice. It’s now that the fire trucks serve their dual purpose and are put to use to clean up the pulpy mess.
The History of La Tomatina
Let’s get into some history of the La Tomatina festival. Spain’s residents LOVE eating tomatoes and it’s estimated that each person eats around 17 kilos of them annually!
Love for the tomato
Similar to most Mediterranean cuisines, the humble tomato is a very important ingredient in Spanish cooking. Tomatoes are eaten every day in Spain, and they’re prepared in many different ways including crushed, fresh, simmered in a sauce, or stewed. You’ll find tomato sauce on most Spanish dinner tables, served on the side of dishes like chicken, fried eggs, omelettes and meat.
One of the principal tomato-growing areas of Spain is in the southeast, including Valencia and Murcia, so it seems right that the La Tomatina festival should take place in Buñol which is just west of the capital city of Valencia.
La Tomatina’s beginnings
There are many thoughts on how and why the La Tomatina festival started, but it seems that there was a parade during a festival in Buñol, held on the last Wednesday of August in 1945.
An argument started between some young men. In their anger they took advantage of a nearby fruit and vegetable stall and started throwing tomatoes at each other. The police broke up the altercation and the men responsible had to pay restitution to the vendor. It seems that the young people had so much fun that they planned to do the whole thing again the following year, so they came and brought tomatoes with them to the parade and started another tomato fight.
La Tomatina through the years
This occurred every year, up until the 1950s, when the town council put a stop to it. Still some people persisted on having their tomato fight and were ultimately thrown in jail.
Then came the protests and even a ‘Tomato Funeral.’ Finally, in 1957 the town council agreed to let the fight continue, and since 1980 the city government has really become involved and, in fact, has been the provider of the tomatoes!
Today’s La Tomatina
The celebration still continues: taking place in the city centre of Buñol on the last Wednesday in August. The festivities begin at 10 AM at the sound of a rocket being fired, ending one hour later.
La Tomatina rules
There are five very simple, common sense rules that must be obeyed to ensure all participants stay safe.
- No throwing bottles or other objects that might cause harm or injury
- No tearing or throwing of T-shirts
- To avoid causing injury the tomatoes should be squashed first and then thrown
- Be cautious and aware of trucks and vans
- At the sound of the second shot the tomato throwing must stop!
La Tomatina Accommodation Tips
Finding accommodation for La Tomatina is easier said than done. Considering that Buñol is a teeny tiny town that ramps ups solely for the festival, finding accommodation in the actual town and nearby the venue is near impossible. In fact, you won’t find a hotel AT ALL. About the only thing that you will find in this town is locals renting out their own rooms at inflated prices.
So, what then may one come by in terms of accommodation during La Tomatina? Well, your best bet is to look for it in Valencia itself. You can chose from either luxury hotel or backpacker style hostel accommodation. While in Valencia you can visit the beaches and the many sights and attractions including the aquarium, museums and art and science centers.
Stay in Valencia
Valencia actually provides great value for money in terms of the quality of hotels for the price relative to what you would acquire in other European cities. The almost palatial (and certainly very stunning) “Hotel Las Areas Balneario Resort” (4.5 star) located in central Valencia will cost you under 1300 Euros for 6 nights over the week of La Tomatina. You can enjoy the lap of luxury – 2 pools and a spa and stylish, luxe furnishings.
If you are in the market for something a lot more budget friendly (but still really quite nice) Valencia has a lot of accommodation options to suit your needs. The “Casual Hostal Valencia” (4.3 stars) will cost just under 262 Euros for 6 nights over the week La Tomatina is held. It’s a luxurious hotel (a shared bathroom is a part of the deal) located near the central market in Valencia.
If you’re looking to go cheaper even still, or if a package deal is more your style there are a number of tours that operate. They often include your ticket to La Tomatina and extras such as days at the beach and parties. It’s a good point to remember that if you are sourcing your accommodation directly that you do purchase your ticket well before you depart. Also, it is wise to book sooner rather than later – La Tomatina has attracted up to 60,000 people in the pst – you need to get in FAST!
Whatever your style or budget, start your planning now and you’ll soon see yourself squishing Tomatoes in the Spanish sunshine!