La Tomatina, a festival in the form of a tomato battle

tomatina

The Tomatina is the world’s biggest tomato battle

In the town of Buñol, near Valencia, a week of festivities takes place every year on the last Wednesday in August, culminating in a famous tomato battle.

The origins of this unlikely party lie in a fight that broke out in 1945 in the main square of the small town of Buñol after a group of youngsters were refused access to a local party. They began throwing tomatoes at each other from a small fruit and vegetable stall. The following years, on the same day, they brought back their own tomatoes to fight again.

Another legend has it that at a party featuring rabbits, some of these animals started eating all the watermelons in a grocery store. To stop them, some of the attendees threw tomatoes at them and touched other people. A battle ensued…

La Tomatina

Flickr – grahammclellan

First banned, then authorized, it was in 1975 that the Tomatina became « supervised » by an association of local growers, Los Clavarios de San Luis Bertrán, who managed the tomato stock. The town of Buñol finally took charge of the event in 1980 to boost local tourism.

tomatina

Source: Getty Images / Jasper Juinen

The day begins at 10 a.m. with the  » palo jamón « , the aim of which is to climb a wooden pillar covered in grease, at the top of which hangs a ham. As soon as the ham is unhooked, the battle begins.

palo jamon

Flickr – puuikibeach

Around 130 tons of tomatoes are said to be used for this mythical battle. These tomatoes are grown especially for the event and are of poor quality and cheap. Since the 2013 edition, you have to pay €10 for entry to take part, but only 20,000 tickets are allocated, including 5,000 free for locals.

camion tomatina

Source: Getty Images / Jasper Juinen

The festival attracts tourists from all over the world, as the company selling the tickets explains. Australians, Japanese and British are said to be the most interested in taking part in the battle. Rules have been laid down to prevent too many casualties. In particular, tomatoes must be crushed before being thrown.

tomatina

Flickr – RenoTahoe

At the end, the streets are obviously filled with tomato pulp. The streets are cleaned immediately after the festivities, using the acidity of the tomato juice to keep them clean.

This Spanish TV video shows the crowd in one of the streets of the town of Buñol!