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La Tomatina is one of Spain’s most unusual festivals. Travel to Valencia to take part in the fun.

La Tomatina

There’s no denying that Spain has a great number of fiestas to enjoy, celebrating everything from local produce to various events in the religious calendar. However, one of the most unusual festivals on offer is La Tomatina. This event, held on the last Wednesday of every August, is essentially an enormous food fight. Visitors travel to the small town of Bunol every year to join in the fun in this most peculiarly memorable festival.

Unknown origins

The festival has taken place since the 1940s although how it began is not entirely clear. It may have been an opportunistic bit of fun after a lorry load of produce was spilled, or simply locals expressing their anger at unfortunate council officials. However, so much fun was had that it has become an annual fixture, with a week of feasting and celebration prior to the main event. Today, thousands of people ranging from those enjoying discount holidays to Spain through to locals will make their way to the fairly small town of Bunol to join in this food fight, where over 100 tons of tomatoes will come to a squashy end. The action begins once the truckloads of tomatoes have arrived. Although officially the event starts with the rather bizarre process of someone climbing to the top of a greased pole to reach a ham, this often proves tricky - so people tend to just get on with the throwing as soon as the water cannons fire their first shot. After an hour, a second shot is fired and the fight draws to a close.

A few ground rules

It may sound odd to have rules at a festival, even more so at a food fight, but there are just a few regulations that participants are asked to abide by. These are primarily to ensure that the event is fun, but also remains safe. Due to its enormous popularity, in previous years the event became overcrowded and is now therefore ticketed. There is still space for 20,000 people to join in but you will need to ensure you book in advance. All tomatoes must be squashed before being thrown in order to minimise impact injuries and the throwing of any other objects is not permitted. It is also not allowed to pull on the clothing of other participants and flip flops are not recommended. You will also want to wear old clothes as despite a good washing from the water cannons afterwards, you will most likely find your clothes unwearable again. If you want to experience one of Spain’s more unusual festivals, La Tomatina certainly fits the bill.

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