During the last Wednesday of August, each and every year, the usually sleepy Spanish village of Bunol, near Valencia, bursts incredibly in to life. A festival takes place which commemorates the patron saint of the town, San Luis Bertran, but the main attraction for most tourists is a much less pious affair.
The La Tomatina festival is the world renowned event in question, where locals and visitors to the town alike get the chance to let loose by pelting over ripe tomatoes at friends and strangers.
The World’s Biggest Food Fight
The largest food fight in the world gets started in the Plaza Del Pueblo in Bunol. The La Tomatina festival itself only lasts a mere two hours – between 11 o’clock in the morning until one o’clock in the afternoon. But you will be amazed how many handfuls of tomatoes can be thrown in that space of time.
For the sake of those who have to clean up the town once the revellers have departed, it is probably better that the La Tomatina festival does not go on much longer!
In preparation for the La Tomatina festival, shops are boarded up and houses are on lockdown in anticipation of the typically riotous scenes
It can be an enjoyable experience to visit the town of Bunol early, prior to the start of the La Tomatina festival, just to get a sense of what the place looks like before and then after the chaotic events of later in the week. As the town ramps up to the start of the La Tomatina festival, fireworks are launched, there are parades through the streets, the inhabitants dance and eat paella.
Let Battle Commence
The battle like no other begins with the trucks loaded with tomatoes rolling down the streets. After the masses of fruit are distributed to the eager crowd of tens of thousands, a huge melee ensues, with tomatoes flying from each and every direction. It is definitely impossible to emerge unscathed, and useless to even try, due to the constant barrage of the red foodstuff. It is estimated that over 100,000 kilograms of tomatoes end of splattered against the old walls and trampled into the ground during the La Tomatina festival.
The La Tomatina festival used to be completely free to take part in, however, last year the mayor of Bunol and the local council made the decision to charge an entry fee for the first time. 10 Euros is now the price of admission for two hours of attacking others with tomatoes, which still feels like something of a bargain.
For an increased fee of 750 Euros, you can gain yourself pride of place and the best possible position to launch pre-emptive tomato based attacks on your new found foes, by getting on board one of the trucks that passes through the crowd releasing the first tomatoes.
The new fees are reportedly to keep numbers down in the cramped streets of Bunol, while making the once in a lifetime event more enjoyable for all visitors. Regardless, the La Tomatina festival is the kind of experience that you are unlikely to find anywhere else.