La Tomatina – The Tomato Fight of Spain, is celebrated in Bunol, near Valencia in Spain. It is the only festival in the world entirely dedicated to throwing tomatoes at each other, and is every bit as fun and crazy as it sounds! It is celebrated on the last Wednesday of August every year.
In 1945 at the centre of the main square Plaza del Pueblo , few people wanted to get involved in a fight and they found a store with vegetables beside and started picking the tomatoes and throwing them at each other. The fight was stopped and those involved were made to pay for the damage they had caused.
A year later, in the last week of August people started another fight with tomatoes, but this time they bought their own. Police attempted to intervene but did not get very far. From this point on the fight became an annual event, and by 1950 the start of the party had become a widely anticipated event. The town gave in to the inevitable and granted permission for people to play with tomatoes by throwing them at each other in order to have fun. The festival gained in popularity every year and many people came from many places to take part in the La Tomatina festival. At one point the festival was banned, which resulted in people actually holding a “funeral” for it, with music, comedians and event a tomato inside a coffin which was carried it around the town!
In 1957, because of the growing popularity, the festival was legalised, but with rules and regulations. The rules have been modified over the years.
1. The tomato must be squeezed properly before throwing at others in order to avoid injury.
2. Only tomatoes should be used in the fights and no other fruit or vegetables.
3. The participants should make way for the trucks that brings tomatoes.
4. The ripping of shirts is strictly prohibited and
5. Once the La Tomatina festival officially ends no tomato should be thrown
The festival begins at around 10 am in the morning and the event with the “Palo Jamon”, where people attempt to climb a greased pole and reach the ham that is to the top. People start pour water on the participants trying to reach the ham through pipes and the spectators have a lot of fun dancing and cheering the participants on. Once someone succeeds in dropping the ham from the pole La Tomatina can officially start, and a water gun is fired and large trucks make their entry. After the tomato throwing frenzy, the Festival’s end is indicated by a loud gunshot and then the fire trucks make their way over to clean the participants by pumping water on them.
La Tomatina is one of those experiences that is truly unlike anything else in the world!