La Tomatina In All Its Glory
Since 1945, the food fight of Spain’s La Tomatina festival has been drawing in crowds of local revelers and foreign tourists who want to see the spectacle for themselves. Every year, in the last week of August, it gets bigger and better and 2015 is set to be no different as the local officials have gone out of their way to hold a safe, respectable fight as part of a much longer, vibrant week of events and celebrations.
La Tomatina: the world’s biggest food fight.Naturally, when people think of La Tomatina they think of the massive food fight that provides the rather messy but undeniably exciting climax of the festival. It is said that over one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are used as ammunition on all the tourists that take to the streets – and it is certainly a great way of dealing with the issue of food waste! It is a strange occasion full of traditions; there is the arrival of the tomatoes by truck, the Palojabon (a challenge to reach a ham on top of a soapy pole) the firing of the water cannons and, of course, the fruity free-for-all that ensues until the hour is up.
What else can you see and do if you head to La Tomatina 2015?Unfortunately, the massive food fight can overshadow the rest of the week’s events and it really is worth spending the full week in Bunol to make the most of what the 2015 La Tomatina festival can offer. When it comes to food, many think of the food being thrown around but they are less aware of the cooking contest that takes place the night before where festival participants put their best bowls of paella before judges and a salivating audience. During the days there are parades with plenty of dancers and musicians to get people in the spirit of the event and the region; at night there are fireworks to enjoy and there is even the La Tomatina After Party where participants can unwind once all the last bits of tomato have been hosed off (or washed off with a dip in the river).
Who is the festival recommended for?This festival is blatantly for those that do not mind getting very messy and smelly in a storm of tomatoes, but visitors also need a sense of adventure, an appreciation of Spanish culture and a willingness to immerse themselves in a whole range of sensory experiences. There are two ways of looking at the festival: either it is a quick weekend trip for young travellers and students looking for raucous fun and a good party or it is the ideal week’s break for older, more adventurous travellers that want to experience all the sights, sounds and tastes. There are also tour packages available so this could be a good option if you plan to travel as a group.
Other tips for people looking to go to La Tomatina.Finally, there are some additional pointers to keep in mind in case this festival has become even more tempting and you feel like booking your trip.
1. The growing popularity of the event and its impact on the town has meant that access to the La Tomatina food fight is actually restricted to 20,000 people and you must have a ticket to enter – if you just show up on the day you will be disappointed! Tickets cost just 10 Euros, but it is 750 Euros if you want access to a truck.
2.??Because of the wealth of events in Bunol that week, it will be preferable to stay there; however, accommodation is also limited so it may be worth staying in nearby Valencia and getting the train in each day.
3. Plan your outfit carefully – you may have to throw it away.
4.??Oh yes, and it surely should go without saying that you must not bring your own ammunition to the fight; just use nice, squashed tomatoes that will do little harm.
La Tomatina: so much more than just tossing around some tomatoes for a hour.
The food fight will always be the biggest draw of the festival – no matter how much they restrict the ticket numbers or how ripe the fruit gets – but hopefully this guide has shown that there is even more to see and do than swim in tomato juice for an hour. La Tomatina is a week full of parties, paella, fireworks and festivities and should be enjoyed in all its glory.