La Tomatina in Buñol
La Tomatina is a famous festival in Spain that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, a town located in the East of Spain. It is approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) from the Mediterranean sea.
At this festival, participants throw tomatoes and get involved in this tomato fight for an hour, purely for entertainment purposes!
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La Tomatina festival happens annually in the month of August. The specific day is usually the last Wednesday of the month. The event starts at 10 am and lasts for an hour.
The festival first took place on the last Wednesday of August in 1945, when some young people spent the time in the town square to attend the Giants and Big-Heads figures parade.
The young boys decided to stand by the entourage of musicians, Giants, and Big-Heads figures. The energy of these young people made one participant fall over. The participant flew into a fit of rage, started to hit everything in his path.
There was a market stall of vegetables that fell victim to the furious crowd: people started to pelt each other with tomatoes until the local forces ended the fruit battle.
The following year, the young people picked a quarrel by their own decision and brought the tomatoes from home. Although the police broke up the early tradition in the following years, the young boys had made history without even knowing it.
La Tomatina was banned in the early 50s, which was not a problem for some participants who continued, and even got arrested! In the end, the people had their say and the festivity was again allowed with more participants and more frenetic feelings.
The festivity was again canceled till 1957 when, as a sign of protest, the tomato burial was held. It was a demonstration in which the residents carried a coffin with a huge tomato inside. The parade was accompanied by a music band which played funeral marches and it was totally successful.
La Tomatina Festival was finally allowed and became an official festivity. In 2002, La Tomatina of Buñol was declared Festivity of International Tourist Interest by the Secretary Department of Tourism due to its success.
Rules of the festival
The city council follows a short list of instructions for the safety of the participants and the festival:
- Do not throw bottles or hard objects
- Do not tear or throw t-shirts
- Squash tomatoes before throwing them to avoid hurting others
- Keep a safe distance from trucks
- Stop throwing tomatoes after the second starter pistol shot
- Follow the directions of security staff
At around 10am festivities begin with the first event of the Tomatina. It is the “palo jabón“, similar to a fireman’s pole. The goal is to climb a greased pole with a ham on top.
As this happens, the crowd works into a frenzy of singing and dancing while being showered in water from hoses.
Once someone is able to drop the ham off the pole, the start signal for the tomato fight is given by firing the water shot in the air and trucks make their entry.
The signal for the onset is at about 11 when a loud shot rings out, and the chaos begins. Several trucks throw tomatoes in abundance in the Plaza del Pueblo.
For the participants, the use of goggles and gloves is recommended. The estimated number of tomatoes used is around 150,000 i.e. over 40 metric tons.
After exactly one hour, the fight ends with the firing of the second shot, announcing the end. The whole town square is coloured red and rivers of tomato juice flow freely.
Fire Trucks hose down the streets and participants use hoses to remove the tomato paste from their bodies.
If you want to go to La Tomatina, you can find more information here!
We also offer an excursion every year, as part of our Homestay Immersion program! Study in your teacher’s home, attend La Tomatina, and discover Valencia all in one holiday!
Ready… Steady… Let the battle commence!
Spanish Express Blogger & Teacher
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