Guide to La Tomatina: Everything You Need to Know About La Tomatina
Who wouldn’t want to get crazy and throw tomatoes at each other? Check out this guide for everything you need to know about La Tomatina festival in Spain.
If you’ve ever taken a Spanish class you’ve probably at least heard of La Tomatina festival at some point!
What is the Tomatina festival?
This festival takes place at the end of August every year. People line up on the street as buildings are covered in waterproof tarp. A buzzer sounds, and trucks loaded to the brim with tomatoes start rolling down the street.
People on top of the trucks start grabbing tomatoes and chunking them onto the buildings, the street, etc., and the festival goers start grabbing tomatoes and launching what has to be the world’s biggest food fight. The fight lasts for an entire hour before another buzzer sounds and marks the end of the mayhem.
What is the history of La Tomatina?
The origins of Tomatina began in a small town called Buñol in 1945. What was once a simple, on-time food fight, quickly began to repeat over the years. Now, La Tomatina has evolved into an internationally reknown festival. Every year at the end of August, locals and tourists alike spend an hour throwing tomatoes at each other.
Where is La Tomatina celebrated?
The small town of Buñol, Spain takes pride in being the host and creator of this crazy festival. Buñol is located in the region of Comunitat Valenciana, in the eastern part of Spain. The closest city is Valencia (about 30 minutes), although many people come all the way from Barcelona as well.
How to get to La Tomatina Festival
These buses leave really early in the morning, but also provide you with a way back and tickets to the festival are included. They’re very comfortable, and on the way to Buñol they have a video playing of Tomatina’s history. You can choose a variety of options, including a party and/or lockers. I would definitely recommend the locker so you have a safe and dry place to keep your things.
There are buses coming from Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid.
How much does La Tomatina cost?
The price for the festival by itself is 12 euros. However if you want drinks, a locker, etc., you will need to pay a big extra or buy a package that includes everything plus transport.
What to wear for La Tomatina
Please wear stuff to get dirty in!! You’re going to get soaked with tomatoes and with water so I advise you to wear a swimsuit underneath your clothes. Your clothes are also probably going to be completely trashed after the festival so try to wear something you’re okay parting with.
I’d also recommend to wear white! The white looks much better in photos when you can see just the extent of how much more red you are!
Some people even wear goggles, since the acidity of the tomatoes can burn your eyes a bit. I would also highly recommend a waterproof phone case so you can take lots of photos and videos without worrying about your phone getting ruined by tomato juice.
How it works
We arrived very early, so we spent the morning having a little bit of breakfast and drinks. Many bars are open for coffee and beer, and the “fun zone” (party) that was included with our ticket had refreshments for sale.
You have to walk down through the city to get to the street where the festival takes place. As you walk down and even after entering the Tomatina street, you will see locals joining in on the fun and dumping buckets of water on you from their balconies. A bit cold in the morning, but you’ll be happy about it after you’ve been soaked in tomatoes!
I HIGHLY recommend to arrive on the street early, and find a section that has a side street. Sometimes the street can get too crowded or you may need a break from being pelted by tomatoes. If there’s a side street, you have an escape route once the trucks arrive.
One quick note: These are NOT ripe tomatoes. That makes them easier to throw, but man do they stink. Rotten tomatoes. Beware! This festival is not for the faint-hearted!
The trucks are filled with locals whose only joy in life is to hurl tomatoes at tourists. They love it! Sometimes a little too much! But once the tomatoes are in the street it’s your turn to start the fight.
Soon, the entire street turns into mush, and you can grab it and just chunk tomato mush wherever you want. When I went this small Spanish child decided that I was his main target and proceeded to follow me around throwing tomatoes solely at me.
A bell marks the end of the festival, and you’re now left to your own devices on the streets, covered in tomato guts. The party isn’t over though!
After the Tomatina festival
If you head back the way you came, there will be many locals offering “showers” for a euro. These showers include being hosed down in all your clothes with a water hose, utilizing dish soap as shampoo. Your alternative is walking around smelling like tomato guts sooo the showers are definitely worth it! The locals are probably making a fortune off of these water hose showers but at least you’re supporting the local economy!
There are many places to eat outside, and several parties on the street. Spanish people love any excuse to eat and drink, so it’s a fantastic time, especially after probably the weirdest morning of your life.
When you’re ready to go home, you’ll have to figure out where the bus is picking up (or your own means of transportation). You can go home knowing that you’ll probably never ever look at a tomato the same way.
My honest opinion on the festival
I loved this festival. It is so uniquely Spanish and I think it’s a once in a lifetime experience. However, I want to emphasize the term ‘once.’ It was an amazing day, but it took me several DAYS to get rid of the smell of rotten tomatoes. I could barely even look at tomatoes shortly afterwards!
I’m definitely glad that I did it and it was on my bucket list, but I would probably categorize it into more of the “once in a lifetime” experiences to have.
Next destination: The Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy!