Don't miss out on the World's Biggest Food Fight with over 150,000 fat tomatoes as weapons if you are in Spain in August! La Tomatina in Buñol, a town in the south of Barcelona near Valencia, is right up there as one of the wackiest festivals in the country. Thousands upon thousands of people make their way to the festival from all over the world, expanding Buñol's normal population of 9,000 people to anywhere from 50,000 to 60,000 prior to 2013. Since then, authorities have set a quota of 20,000 ticketed entries. We do not suggest missing out on the chance to take part in La Tomatina, so plan ahead!
Despite the festival's fame and stature, La Tomatina is pretty short-lived. It starts rather incongruously when a ham is placed on top of a large, greasy pole around 11am in the town square. The tomato fight can only begin when someone can climb up the pole and un-perch this meaty prize. As soon as the jamon is claimed, lorries full of tomatoes drive by to drop off their first load of ripe tomatoes for the fight to begin! Remember, it is tradition to wear something white for a before/after picture. As you are standing shoulder to shoulder with other people in the crowd, it would be hard to not hurl a tomato at someone or get hit by one - especially since some cheeky residents in the lorries pelt the crowd with juicy tomatoes.
After all the tomatoes have been disgorged, thrown and re-thrown and the lorries have made their final rounds, the crowds reeking of tomatoes starts to disperse. The kind locals of Buñol start to hose down visitors.
There are a few important things to know before you join this messy tomato fight in Spain. So, here are some of our tips. Theoretically you could stay in Buñol, but it makes much more sense to base yourself in Valencia and head to the town for the day. Keep in mind that the food fight officially begins at 11 am, but the festivities begin at 8 am so be sure to plan your commute accordingly. Arriving early also gives you the option of getting some drinks in before the tomato pelting begins. Don't wear anything you care too much for and would be upset if it got ruined. A single tomato stain is difficult enough to wash out and after the event it is not unlikely that you'll look like a guest at The Red Wedding! Lastly, leave your bags at your hotel or the bus! The security guards at La Tomatina are not fans of bags, so, instead you are given the option put it in overpriced lockers near the main entrance.
Keep an eye out for tickets when they go on sale - this is an experience you need to live at least once in your lifetime! One thing is certain - it will get very, very messy. If you get the chance to go, don't forget to bring a change of clothes, towel and some extra shoes (we've lost some flip flops at past events)! Let's get juicy!