Each year, in August, 20,000 people wear swimming goggles in Buñol, 38 km just from Valencia. The aim is not to swim in the sea or in the river. The aim is to subdue the red waves created by 150 tons of tomatoes.
Once a year, Buñol residents, accustomed to the quiet life, lock their doors and windows. They try to protect the walls of shopping centers with a special cover. Large trucks enter the town. Thousands of tourists, along with trucks, are stuck in narrow streets. The incredible hour that starts after warmth, excitation and alarm is hard to explain by simple words. Everyone knows that the whole town will be turned into red. Everyone becomes familiar. People who don't know each other, with the convenience of siblings crush tomatoes on each other's faces. They have occasion to experience being ketchup.
Some people can't come to the meaning of the shock of being smashed. Some run to the long pole in the center of the town. Everybody tries to climb a slippery pole to pick up a piece of meat hanging from the top. 20,000 people who come to Buñol are given just 60 minutes to laugh, to have a red face, to let off steam and to accumulate adrenaline that will feed them for a year. With the second alarm, everyone throws tomatoes in their hands. The ceasefire is declared. Festival-goers look for places to wash their clothes, crushed bodies and colored hair. Buñol residents who locked their doors and windows remembering the hospitability after the second signal welcomed tourists with the water. The whole town begins to wash the traces of tomatoes. After the Red Battle, a music night is organized. All that happened is called La Tomatina.
La Tomatina is a festival celebrated from World War II. The exact cause of the origin is unknown. There are many assumptions. The main point is the huge love for this giant tomato fight.
Although the festival was banned several times in the 50s, the bans were canceled because of local protests. Once when the festival was banned, the Buñol residents declared the mourning, filled with a coffin with tomatoes and marched in the town with this symbolic coffin. Everyone in Spain discussed this issue. As a result, the officials restored the festival.
What shall I do to attend the La Tomatina Festival?
First and foremost, you need to think well. This event is not for those who have a weak heart or physical fitness. During the event, numerous things can happen to you. If you repeatedly use the word “nut” to describe your personality, you can plan your trip to Valencia.
La Tomatina is held annually, August 25-29. The battle starts at 11 am. Here are some tips from veterans participating in this red battle:
- Wear clothes you won't wear again. After this battle, you will hardly wear shirts, shoes and other clothing items again. Women prefer sportswear. Participants' hands may not stay still.
- There may be many theft cases. Do not carry your passport or wallet on you.
- Drink plenty of water before fighting. The heat of August may dry you completely.
- There will be those who want to tear up your shirt. Drunken participants tend to break the rules and tore the shirts.
It is possible to go to the festival town by bus (75 minutes), by car (40 minutes) and by train from Valencia. The cost of participation in the festival varies from 12 to 20 Euros. (Depending on how quick you order.) There are special services organizing the hotel and tour for those who love comfort. Usually, Spanish local tour agencies offer a 3-night package (provided it is 200 EUR per person).
People who have traveled to La Tomatina from around the world say the following:
“Add this red battle to your to-do list!”
All I have to say is, "Don't forget to take the swimming goggles before going to Buñol."