La Tomatina 2018– the biggest food fight of the year is the highlight festival of Spain held annually in the month of August. This iconic festival paints the Spanish town of Bunol with an incredible 40 metric tons of tomatoes from the Extremadura region. This year, the fabled festival of La Tomatina is going to take place on 29th August 2018!
What is La Tomatina 2018?
The annual ‘tomato throwing festival’ is celebrated each year on the last Wednesday of August in Spain. The town of Bunol, located 38 kilometers from Valencia, is the sight of this famous tomato festival.
La Tomatina 2018: Origin of festival
There are three legends surrounding La Tomatina and the best part about them is that no one really knows which one is true!
The most popular one that may be narrated to you by the local women eagerly selling their souvenir T-shirts is that a parade in 1945 honoring town’s patron saint, Luis Bertran, ended in absolute chaos when a local producer’s tomato cart was crushed, squishing thousands of ripe tomatoes in the streets.
If you park yourself near a local brewery and allow one of the old men to narrate animated anecdotes to you, you may get to hear of the legend about a notorious Spanish womanizer, Don Juan, who was pelted with tomatoes in response to his awful singing and equally horrendous guitar play.
Another popular legend that the lanky teenagers reveling on the streets may swear by is about how La Tomatina came around to be when a group of local rascals raiding a fruit stall in the town center, started hurling tomatoes at each other in sheer madness.
No matter which story you choose to believe, one thing is for sure – nothing comes close to those few breath-taking hours when about 50,000 people come out on the streets armed with 250,000 pounds of ripe and juicy tomatoes, all set for the war…. THE TOMATO WAR!
The iconic festival was shut down in 1950 and was later, renewed in the year 1957 after several protests and marches with symbolic burial of tomatoes. In 2002, La Tomatina of Bunol was declared Festivity of International Tourist Interest by Spain’s government and since 2013, entry tickets have been mandatory due to its excessive popularity.
La Tomatina 2018: How the festival starts
Ready yourself in the morning for the frenzy, which gets started when a ham is placed on top of a tall, greased pole in front of the local town hall. The tomato throwing ‘ritual’ can only begin once someone is able to climb the slippery pole and grab the ham. The sight is truly hilarious as hordes of people try to scale this pole, climbing over each other, to be the illustrious one to claim the ham.
Once the ham is snatched, the trucks roll in with the masses of ripe & juicy tomatoes in the center of town.
The event begins as five bulbous (tomato-packed rockets) are fired out of a cannon into the air. The crowd explodes into a thunderous roar and this launches everyone into a flinging and slinging frenzy.
La Tomatina 2018: How to reach
The nearest airport to Bunol is 38 kilometers away in Valencia. Valencia Airport is connected to the city center by the local metro. You could also drive down to Bunol from other major Spanish cities like Barcelona (approx. 4-hrs), Seville (approx. 6-hrs), Madrid (approx. 3-hrs) and Córdoba (approx. 4-hrs).
Alternatively, you could also catch a train to Valencia from Madrid, Barcelona and other key Spanish cities using the RENFE train network.
La Tomatina 2018: Fun Facts
- La Tomatina is the world’s biggest food fight in the world with 40 tons of tomatoes are used during the one-hour festival.
- The festival starts with a ham! Yes, that’s true! A ham is hung on top of a greasy pole in the city center. The goal is to climb the slippery pole and clinch the ham, amidst loud singing, cheering. Once the ham is secured, a loud signal goes off and the tomato trucks appear on the street.
- White t-shirts are most common sight however, the locals prefer to go without t-shirts. Some people also wear swimming googles and snorkeling gear to keep the tomato puree out of their eyes and nose.
- Accommodation in Bunol is very limited and expensive due to the high popularity of the festival. It’s better to book accommodation in the town or stay in Valencia to attend the festival.
- Tomatoes are natural disinfectants and are for good for skin as they clear all impurities. Following the end of the festival, fire-fighters hose down the streets and people after the battle, leaving the town surprisingly clean.
- La Tomatina is not just about tomato fights. The week leading up to the festival features events filled with parades, fireworks, and paella cooking contests.
La Tomatina 2018: Tips!
There aren’t too many rules in this fun fest, but more of ‘common sense’ applications.
- Participants should not wear designer or delicate fabrics. Steer clear of whites; as they won’t remain clean and bright for very long.
- If you’re absolutely determined to take pictures, carry a see-though waterproof bag.
- Participants must make way for trucks and lorries.
- You can throw tomatoes and tomatoes only.
- They must be squashed before you throw them, to avoid bruising.
- Although the locals tend to rip each other’s clothing, it is officially forbidden and as a visitor, you will be expected to behave.
- After the second shot indicative of ending the tomato hurl, no tomatoes should be thrown.
- And, finally, do not throw tomatoes at the non-tomato throwers, especially if they seem to be the locals. Chances are they are pro at the game and their experience may be the deadliest out there!