Spain’s La Tomatina definitely counts as one of the world’s best food festivals, even if nobody actually eats the food in question. Participants in the event throw tomatoes at each other in one of the world’s biggest food fights that travelers come from all over the world to experience, and we have all your questions answered. This is one weird festival that you need to add to your bucket list, so here’s what you need to know.
When And Where Is It?
La Tomatina takes place in the small Spanish town of Bunol, which is located about 45 minutes out of Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain. But you won’t be able to add La Tomatina to your typical Valencian weekend itinerary since the festival only takes place once a year, on the last Wednesday of every August. Some people choose to book accommodation in Bunol, but the majority of travelers base themselves in Valencia and travel to Bunol for the day.
The festival officially begins at 11 a.m., but many people arrive as early as 8 a.m. to secure a good spot and have a few drinks. At 10 a.m., a ham is hung on top of a wooden pole in the town square. When the first person climbs up and reaches the ham, the gun sounds, and the tomato trucks appear.
The Rules All Participants Have To Follow
When it comes to surviving La Tomatina, you have to make sure you play by the rules. The starting gun goes off at 11 a.m. if nobody reaches the ham before then. No food is allowed to be thrown before the gun goes off. The closing gun sounds at midday, and no food is to be thrown after it goes off. Before throwing a tomato, all participants must first scrunch them in their hands so they’re soft. There are security guards stationed around the place who will kick anybody out who doesn’t abide by these rules.
Only 20,000 people can participate in La Tomatina every year so it’s wise to book your tickets as soon as possible. There are several kinds of tickets that you can buy, including one that just comes with admission, one that includes transport options from Valencia, and one that is part of a tour. The latter is a great option for solo travelers who might be too overwhelmed to attend the festivities on their own. You can buy tickets online, either through the official website or through a participating tour company.
Tips To Make The Best Of The Day
There are several tips to take into consideration that will make your experience at La Tomatina the best it can be. The first and most obvious is that you shouldn’t wear anything you don’t want to ruin. Even multiple washes can’t get out the stains of tomato juice, so only wear clothes that you’re okay with being permanently tainted. It’s also crucial to wear comfortable shoes that aren’t open-toed since it can get very crowded and claustrophobic. When people are busy throwing tomatoes, they tend to not worry so much about stepping on other people’s feet!
Big bags are not allowed inside so you’re better off zipping what you need in pockets or a small cross-body bag. Because of the pickpockets, it’s also advisable to avoid bringing cash and other valuables. A camera secured around your neck is fine, but prepare for it to get wet. Arrive early to pick your spot since standing near the alleys that run off the main street will give you more breathing space. If you want to be in the center of the action, prepare for mosh-pit like conditions that are not for the faint-hearted. Finally, be prepared for some of the tomatoes to hurt when they hit you. Although they’re supposed to be soft, some hard ones do get thrown. Don’t worry too much about it and have fun!