The World’s Biggest Food Fight – La Tomatina.

In just under four weeks, thousands of Spanish, and tourists from all over the world, will pelt each other with over 100 tonnes of over-ripe tomatoes. August 26th, the last Wednesday of the month, is the day of La Tomatina, reputedly the biggest food fight in the world.La_Tomatina_(25.08.2010)_-_Spain,_Buñol_17

 The Beginning:

Although nobody seems absolutely sure when this extravaganza began, the general consensus is in 1945. The reason it started seems as shrouded in mystery as the year.

Varying stories are told as to its origins, depending on who you’re talking to. One such story is a group of young Spanish were following the festival – it’s part of a week of festivities – and took offense over the poor playing of a musician on one of the floats, eventually causing him to fall off.

As to be expected, he wasn’t best pleased, and started grabbing the fresh vegetables from one of the nearby stalls and began pelting the youths with veg.

Other stories say a lorry loaded with tomatoes overturned in the town spilling its load and as the townspeople began collecting the spoils, they also began throwing them at each other.

My personal favourite is the townspeople, totally disgruntled with the way their councillors were running their town, decided to make a stand. During a day of celebrations in the town, a group of town’s folk had taken bags of tomatoes and began hurling them at the councillors. Others quickly joined in the melee, and La Tomatina was born.

The Early Years:

In the early years the world’s biggest food fight was anything but. Still very much a local’s idea, groups of youngsters would take bags of tomatoes from home to throw at each other during the festival. With the Spanish police taking offense, many participants were arrested and charged with public order offenses, but nothing deterred them. The following year they were back doing it all again.La_Tomatina_(25.08.2010)_-_Spain,_Buñol_014

In an effort to stamp out the practise, La Tomatina was officially banned in the early 1950’s, but it made little difference. The participants kept turning up, and tomatoes kept being thrown.

Throughout this time, various banning orders were imposed and the organisers given lengthy prison sentences which were eventually rescinded after a revolt by the town’s residents.

No matter what the council and local police tried, the following year would see greater numbers of people getting involved until, in 1957, the council relented and official rules and regulations were drawn up for La Tomatina.

Although now recognised as part of a week of festivities, it wasn’t until 1975 that the council provided the tomatoes for those taking part. Prior to then, the townspeople would grow or buy their own tomatoes, if they wanted to get involved in the food fight.

In 1980, with its growing popularity worldwide the council finally took over the complete organisation of La Tomatina, and in 2002 it was officially declared a festival of International Tourist interest.

Dress the Part:

Dress the part means wear as little as possible, and make sure it is clothing you are happy to throw away after the event. When you’ve got 100 tonnes of over-ripe tomatoes coming at you from all angles, you don’t want to be wearing your latest designer jeans or tops.La_Tomatina_(25.08.2010)_-_Spain,_Buñol_18

Where is it:

La Tomatina is held in the little town of Buñol, about 20 miles from the city of Valencia. Part of a week-long festival for the towns two patron saints, accommodation in the small town is very limited.

The majority, who visit for the whole festival, or just La Tomatina, stay in the beautiful city of Valencia and commute to the town.

With its increasing popularity, in 2013 the council had to limit numbers to La Tomatina to 20,000, and entrance is by ticket only. 2012 saw 50,000 people converge on Buñol, which has a population of just 9,000 and the restrictive measures were taken for safety reasons.

At the time of writing, the €10, La Tomatina only tickets are sold out. Others, including transfers, are still available from tour operators who organise trips to La Tomatina, the biggest food-fight in the world.

By flydime (La Tomatina (25.08.2010) / Spain, Buñol) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By flydime (La Tomatina (25.08.2010) / Spain, Buñol) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By flydime (La Tomatina (25.08.2010) / Spain, Buñol) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By flydime (La Tomatina (25.08.2010) / Spain, Buñol) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



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