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Written by Bhavika G on August 18, 2016 Share on

Paint Spain Red – La Tomatina

La Tomatina a.k.a the biggest food fight in the world is the literal translation of “paint the town red”. Except you are in a square. And Buñol is a village. But the rest of that description remains true to the phrase. Before you start picturing skidding around in your flip flops on a ground carpeted with squashed tomatoes – we would like to intervene. Attending La Tomatina has – at some point of time – topped your bucket list. Crazy. Fun. Absolute madness. We decided to add a little more character to this world-famous festival –

La tomatina's doodle released by Google on its 70th anniversary
Image credit – google

Let’s go gaga on La Tomatina – trip to this festival with Pickyourtrail!


La Tomatina is celebrated on the last Wednesday of August every year. This year – 72nd celebration of this festival – it falls on August 30th. It has over years attracted 45,000 people despite the space only allowing 22,000 people to participate.


Almost all good things in the world came about accidentally – read PIZZA! With the Tomatina festival it’s hard to decide tho. Once upon a time *ahem*, in 1945 actually, a street brawl broke out near a vegetable store in Buñol, Valencia. So furious were the participants that they decided to throw things at each other (typical toddler mentality, tsk). Long story short, people thought it was a great idea to this the very next year – but with tomatoes (the reason escapes us too). It wasn’t until the 1970s, though, that the fight was given legal allowance.

The La Tomatina festival poster
Image credit – shoutlocal


An equally weird invocation to the already weird festival that Tomatina is – the event officially begins only when palo jabon happens. Here two or more brave participants climb a greasy wooden pole to retrieve a leg of ham. Once on the ground, the festival begins with as a loud signal indicating the start goes off.

Palo jabon
Image credit – picasaweb


Once water canons are opened drenching all the 22,000 inhabitants of the square, and the truck filled with – approximately – 150,000 tomatoes saunters into the square, there is only chaos. Lunging forth to gather tomatoes, no time is wasted in squashing and throwing them at the person nearest to you. This is No Man’s Land now – to each his/her own. After one hour into this war-zone like action, the peace signal is sounded and the participants are once more sprayed with hose.

Water canons are opened on people before the festival starts
Image credit – palmbeachpost


The tomato-on-tomato action leaves not only a carpet of tomatoes, but whole puddles of them – you could even immerse yourself in one. According to the health experts, you are supposed to emerge from this skin supple, hair rejuvenated. But if you don’t, remember you were here for the fun – not the spa treatment. For the roads, on the other hand, it is another story. The anti-oxidant properties of the tomatoes is said to act as disinfectant on the them, leaving them cleaner than ever – after the tomato debris is washed off, of course.

Washing off after La Tomatina festival
Image credit – hostelworld


Tomatoes for this occasion are ushered in from Extremadura – they are cheap, of inferior quality  and, some claim, are unfit for human consumption. So it’s not really a waste of food – err, atleast not entirely. Speaking of food, the lead up to Tomatina sees residents of Bunol competing in a paella cook-off contest. Women gather around dressed in white while, men appear shirtless as people simultaneously prepare this seafood delicacy of Spain.

Paella in the paella cook-off contest
Image credit – avocadopesto


When something interesting / exciting happens or is made, you NEED to replicate – as seen from the Bollywood industry. It is no surprise that regions across the world have tried to recreate La Tomatina in their neighbourhoods / homes. Nevada, Chicago, Costa Rica and Columbia have all been guilty of recreating the tomatina festival. Closer home, when Banglore tried to recreate, harsh criticism pointing out wastage of tomatoes led to ban of the event.

Recreating La Tomatina at Canary Wharf in London
Image credit –

Ready for some of this crazy festival fun yourself? Pickyourtrail your Spain tour package to Buñol.

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