La Tomatina Festival ( Valencia)
Decorating the walls of the common dining room with strokes of affordable cheddar cheese mixed with splashes of concentrated over sugary orange juice. The idea of a food fight doesn’t necessarily invite you to create a glamorous scene inside your head, and it will probably only take you back to old girl/boy scout days where your instructors fondly advised you not to take the strawberry pudding into your own hands again and use it as wall paint rather than actually enjoying it. However, there are places on earth that convey admiration for this seemingly unglamorous occurrence without any hesitation. One of the places I’m talking about is Buñol, where a food fighting festival has been held for over 70 years, finding its first edition in 1945.This festival carries the suitable name: La Tomatina.
The origin of the festival stems from a situation that took place at the local town square, involving several young boys and a participant of the Big-Heads figures parade. The youngsters decided to participate, but their energy caused one of the people engaging in the parade to fall, and this resulted in the man reaching an enormous level of acrimony. He started throwing things in his reach and had rapidly attained a stall of vegetables. Surrounding citizens decided to join in on the fight, and soon an altercation had begun. The next year, somehow these same young boys had made the decision to start this fight again, so the continuation of the phenomenon found its birth, only this time they brought their own tomatoes! It became an annual event. After this a constant allowance-cancellation process was brought into life, until the late summer days of 1957. Residents held a demonstration to make the happening legal again, and they won.
The festival nowadays
Nowadays the festival lasts for an approximate hour. Applicants must follow a strict set of rules, and outside of the given time limit it is not allowed to engage in any of the activities. The festival is still located at the same spot where it once all started, but tickets need to be bought before any participation. People from all over the planet will travel to Buñol, only to be able to witness this outstanding phenomenon. Streets are filled with people covered in their old raffling second hand pajamas waiting for the fight to begin. Once it all starts, the place transforms into one big arena of blood like flooded tomato paste. Red bullets existing out of fiber and water will take over the whole city center and pas by from all imaginable directions. La Tomatina even has its own official song which is sang by the Spanish rock band, Malsujeto. The song was released in 2008 by the name “Todo es del mismo color” which literally means ‘everything is of the same color’. The song’s video clip is also listed on Buñol’s official city hall’s website.
Festivities like these are not allowed to take place without any security measurements that are taken into consideration, just as previously noted. The organization that carries the responsibility of coordinating the event is very specific about the list of conditions participants need to comply to. The advice that is given before entering the so called playground is based on these prerequisites:
- The festival will always take place on the last week of August, specifically on a Wednesday
- It starts at 11.00 and ends one hour later at the time of 12.00
- You need to squash the tomatoes before throwing them, making sure the hit is as delicate as possible before reaching the selected candidate
- It is forbidden to remove your clothing from your body and engage any of these materials into the fight
- This also counts for plastic bottles, hard objects or other daily items
- Keep a safe distance from the lories
- Directly stop throwing the tomatoes at the moment the second warning firework goes off
Experiencing a happening like this can only be called a once in a lifetime experience. That’s why lots of people take the plunge and choose to book a ticket to Spain while paying a visit to the beautiful Province of Valencia in the month of August. In case something has started to tickle inside of you as well, there are a few things you can do if you want to be part of this astonishing phenomenon. Tickets for the event can be bought at the official website of the festival, but there are also some face to face dealing points for people haven’t go the advantage of possessing a printer (the tickets need to be printed on paper) Hotels and resting places are widely available in the magnificent Buñor but be sure to book in time, since these dates are very popular for tourists, and a month before even any activity has found its way into reality the hotels and accommodations will be fully booked.
How to get there
Buñol is located in East Spain, only 20 kilometers removed from the historic metropolis Valencia. The village can be reached by train, bus and also of course by car. There are thousands of people trying to reach the place on time, so be sure to be present at least a few hours beforehand. So you can prepare yourself and have some spare hours before you go and enter the big tomato fight. If you plan to take the plane to Spain, again it will be best to pinpoint Valencia’s airport as your location of arrival. It’s the city closest to Buñol and arriving here will spare you a lot of travel time. From there, there are busses and trains taking you to your desired location, all within an accepting traveling from half an hour to an hour.
La Tomatina is a festivity that must be valued and appreciated when looking back on the history of Spain. This festival that has existed for over more than 70 years, carries a great load of historical value with it, and perfectly represents the feeling of connection and the strong warm bonds Spanish people hold so fondly. Celebrating the end of summer with a playful event like this sketches the perfect balance of childhood innocence and adult seriousness combined with a great amount of love and joy. The La Tomatina festival is a heartwarming gathering, one that’s hoped to be celebrated over and over in the upcoming decennia.