Paint it red at La Tomatina Festival

Ever wondered what a red river would look like? Well, it’s not entirely an irrational thought as every year; the last Wednesday of August brings this unimaginable scenario to life-transforming the streets of the erstwhile small Valencian town of Buñol into a river of tomatoes. Travellers from around the globe gather to witness and participate in the biggest sanctioned food clash, throwing tomatoes at each other. A sight to behold, isn’t it? No wonder La Tomatina tops the weirdest festivals ever chart and featuring in millions’ bucket lists.

Bharti Sharma

A tempting hot tomato soup when I’m feeling sick? Great Idea! Pan of delicious pasta with juicy tomato sauce? Mama Mia! These are probably the immediate impression at the mention of tomatoes, but one thing that we’ve learnt from experiences hands down is that ‘the world is a weird place’. And trust us, we’re not complaining, after all, that’s where all the fun lies, right?

When ‘Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara’ premiered years ago, it was an introduction to the La Tomatina for the Indian market, labelling it as a must in the bucket list of every Indian traveller. It was not just its visual appearance that appealed to us, but the level of sheer thrill and madness that we felt watching it.

The Spanish town of Bunol with a population of 9000 is flooded by a whopping 20,000 tourists making their way from all corners of the world to participate in this crazy festival; to throw tomatoes at their friends, enemies, loved ones or complete strangers for all they care. Over one hundred and fifty metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets of Bunol in just about an hour; yes that’s how long the clash lasts. But, over the years La Tomatina has gone beyond the clash and is celebrated over a week charged with fireworks, parades, fun and food.


Honestly, there are more than one chronicles about how it all began, and the origin story is, at best, a myth. But still, the most accepted version of the story is that it originated in the 1940s following a small street brawl that involved the participants hurling tomatoes at each other, but somehow the fun quotient in this activity led to the locals gathering and recreating the incident every year on the last Wednesday of August. The festival is also said to have religious association; celebrated to honour Bunol’s patron saint, San Luis Bertran. The festival has not been without controversies, as it was banned several times in the 1950s but the tradition somehow survived, it was declared an official festival and eventually became the centrepiece of the town’s week-long celebration.

Where to settle the base?

The small town of Bunol is around 45 minutes out of Valencia. Many visitors who come to attend the festival book their accommodations in Bunol itself. But, it makes much more sense to base yourself in Valencia and head to the town for the day. Valencia is one of the most beautiful and experiential cities in Spain and it has so much to offer in summers, which is during the festival time. So make sure to add a few extra days with the festival to roam around and experience amazing Valencia.

What actually, happens on D-day?

The food clash is officially flagged off at 11 in the morning but you will notice the street bustling with participants around 8 a.m. itself. The ceremony begins with a volunteer attempting to climb a two-storey greased pole to reach the ham at the top. The official food clash is supposed to begin once the ham is retrieved. Once the fun-filled, tomato-themed carnage begins, it’s up to you how you utilize this time and how you can enjoy it.
But one thing is certain here – it will get messy, very messy.

The tomato Ramp walk

Don’t wear anything expensive or something that you hold dear because you’d be upset if your outfit is ruined, which is bound to happen. The tomato stain is difficult to wash off; it will stay on your outfit forever as a memory so take your chances accordingly. It is suggested you wear something white (an unsaid tradition) and it sets the tone for amazing pictures; the rest you go with the flow, gliding through a street filled with people hurling tomatoes at everything breathing. Be comfortable with shoes; make sure to wear sandals with a grip and no heels, strictly. Crocs are any day the best option for staying afloat the river of tomatoes.

Attending the festival is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience so make sure you have lots of fun. Bright red tomatos’ flying through the air for as far as you can see is completely out-of-the-world and a sight to behold. They will coat your hair, run down your shirt and obscure your eyes. You will slip, you will fall, you will land in a sea of red – but you’ll get back up and start all over again because this time is going to stay with you for the rest of your lives, bringing joy and excitement every time it crosses your mind.


Rules of La Tomatina

In spite of the mayhem, there are actually a few rules and regulations that need to be adhered to during La Tomatina in order to ensure that travellers get the maximum enjoyment from the day.

  • It is illegal to bring any kind of bottle or other objects that could cause an accident.
  • You must not tear t-shirts.
  • As soon as you hear the second banger you must stop throwing tomatoes.
  • Selfie-stick are not allowed
  • Tomatoes must be crushed before throwing so that they don’t hurt anybody.
  • You must be careful and cautious of the lorries which carry the tomatoes at all times.



Travel Turtle

Travel News & Magazine

Eaven Theme made by Loft.Ocean Team.
© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.