Calle Del Cid, Buñol, Spain
GPS: 39.4185048, -0.7917577
La Tomatina is a Spanish festival that happens on the last Wednesday of August. People from around the globe gather to experience what is regarded as the world’s biggest food fight, involving truckloads of specially grown tomatoes.
History is unclear about the tomato tossing origins of La Tomatina, with several stories about who started it, and why. Ask a local in the town of Buñol, where this annual festival is held, and they will give you their version of events. However it started, the tradition continues and today tonnes of tomatoes are thrown by friends and strangers each year in a slippery, squelchy hour-long battle.
The tomato fight takes place in Buñol’s town square and along a wide street called Calle Del Cid. These areas are crowded with revellers by mid-morning, which is when the first tradition of the day is initiated. A soap-covered pole is erected in the town square with a ham (jamón) fixed to the top of it. People take turns attempting to climb the pole and retrieve the ham. During this time, locals in the surrounding houses douse the festival participants from above with water. Traditionally, the tomato fight started when the ham was retrieved, but for convenience, the battle is now initiated at a set starting time, which is marked by the firing of a cannon.
Six truckloads of tomatoes are brought into the designated area, and this squelchy ammunition is systematically offloaded into the crowded space to allow the food fight to commence. After exactly an hour, the cannon is fired again, marking the end of the juicy conflict. Locals then begin cleaning off the participants with hoses, while fire trucks with high pressure hoses clean the streets.
While many participants come to Buñol just for the tomato fight, the week leading up to the event includes live music, dancing, fireworks and parades. The night before the fight is marked by a paella cooking contest where women traditionally dress in white and men go shirtless. La Tomatina is a truly outlandish Spanish festival, and those who experience this red riot first-hand find it unforgettable.