If you’re looking for exciting and unusual things to do this summer, you have to know about Tomato Festival La Tomatina, one of Spain’s most unique events that’s notorious for being absolutely crazy, utterly messy, and most importantly of all – ridiculously fun!
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Tomato Festival’, La Tomatina has taken place in the town of Bunol, near Valencia, every last Wednesday of August since the mid-1940s. This year is on August 28, 2013. Simply put, La Tomatina is an enormous food fight during which 100 tonnes of over-ripe tomatoes are driven into the Plaza de Pueblo, where thousands of revellers await, poised to throw the tomatoes at each other until Bunol’s streets resemble an explosion in a ketchup factory.
Yet as eccentric as La Tomatina may sound, it’s also an event that’s shrouded in tradition, and before the tomato-throwing commences an important ritual, the Palojabón, must take place. A wooden, grease-covered pole with a ham attached to the top is erected in the Plaza de Pueblo, and it’s the job of one brave soul to reach the top of the pole and claim the ham in order to signal the start of the food fight – although so few are actually successful that the tomatoes soon begin to fly anyway.
The Messier the Better
It doesn’t take long for proceedings to become hectic, and every reveller is covered from head to toe in mushed-up tomatoes. There are no winners of La Tomatina, though it’s generally the consensus that the filthier you are, the more fun you had, so if you intend on joining in don’t even think about wearing your best clothes!
In fact, dressing for success will give you a distinct advantage at La Tomatina. It’s a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes that you can dispose of after the fight, as well as goggles, because all that tomato juice can soon start to sting.
La Tomatina is certainly an event that you can’t miss after arriving on flights to Spain with airlines like Jet2.com. If you wish to see the quirky side of Spain, you will need to conduct a level of pre-planning if you want to get involved. Unlike all previous editions of La Tomatina you will have to pay an entrance fee of €10 to the 2013 event, and only 20,000 people will be allowed to participate in order to avoid the chaos of last year, when 50,000 people showed up for the tumultuous tomato fight.
If you’re one of the lucky people to snap up a place at La Tomatina you’re guaranteed to have a trip to remember, and one that you’ll want to do again and again. Just remember to pack a waterproof camera so you can share your memories with your less daring friends!