Every year, Spain hosts the La Tomatina festival on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol -a sleepy town 40 km away from Valencia that literally runs red with tomatoes. One of the most celebrated Spain festivals, the La Tomatina is known for its distinctive and impulsive silliness.
Millions from almost every corner of the world take part in the world’s largest tomato throwing festival. As the name suggests, participants bring about a hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes to throw on each other to mark the La Tomatina festival.
The History behind the Food Fight Festival
No one knows the definitive reason behind the beginning of the La Tomatina festival. Everyone has their own version of a story that was cited behind this eccentric Iberian Peninsula tradition. One story says a spontaneous food fight among teenagers in the town square during an annual parade in Buñol in 1945 is the most common incident mentioned that led to the beginning of the Tomatina festival. Tomatoes from salads were used as ammo. They loved chucking their food at others so much the teenagers wanted to relive the experience again the next year, but they brought their own tomatoes.
Yet another story says a travelling musician played so badly that people threw tomatoes at him to run him out of the town. Among all the other stories this one is the most popular. People believe that a tomato fight festival went wrong causing a massive brawl during the town’s carnival. People started throwing vegetables at each other from a stall close by in anger, which slowly became fun. The next year, the same people involved in the brawl met on the same day and took up the fight where they left off.
La Tomatina festival
Spain’s tomato festival was declared the festivity of International Tourist interest in 2002 and allowed free participation untill 2012. Nearly, fifty thousand people took part each year, however, recession in 2013 is when the town began to ticket the event and capped participation at 20000. The money earned is used to pay for the tomatoes, and all the services required to ensure a safe festival as well as clean up after the festival.
La Tomatina Festival 2019 date
La Tomatina Festival i.e. the biggest food fight festival of Spain for 2019 will take place on Wednesday, August 28th this year. Plan a holiday today, if you’d like to experience the festival this year.
Festival Start and End
Spain La Tomatina festival starts at exactly 11 am in the morning and continues up to 12 pm.
How is the Festival celebrated?
The ham pole, or Palo Jabon, is the first thing performed even before the tomato fight begins. Very few ever speak of this tradition, however, it is an important part of the festival.
The Palo Jabon is an oiled pole with a ham speared on it. Before the festival can officially begin, someone must reach the top. So, a little before 10 am everybody meets in the Placa de Pueblo and on a signal at exactly 10 am people clamber to get to the top of the pole. But very few ever reach the top as the pole is very oily. Often, the ham still lies on the pole even when 11 am draws close.
The fight starts with the first cannon at 11 am in the morning. Once the festival starts, with the distribution of tomatoes that participants throw at each other. However, everyone must squish the tomatoes properly before chucking them. The festival volunteers fire the second cannon to mark the end of the food fight festival. Once the second cannon is fired no one can throw tomatoes. Later, participants are hosed down to clear the tomatoes.
Key Rules to Participate in the Festival
- Participants must not bring any hard object or bottle, as it may cause injury or accidents.
- You must avoid ripping the t-shirts of other participants.
- Make sure you squash the tomatoes before you should throw them to reduce the impact and meet the safety requirements of the festival.
- Maintain a safe distance from the trucks carrying ripe tomatoes to avoid any accidents.
- Stop throwing tomatoes once you hear the second cannon fired.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting wet with tomatoes.
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