No one is quite sure how the small town of Buñol in eastern Spain became home to the world’s largest food fight. From whispers of a protest to legends of child’s play, the mystery surrounding the origins of the festival only adds to its allure. One thing we are certain of though is that when the five tons of tomatoes are unleashed on the town on the last Wednesday of every August, you had better be prepared to get seriously messy.
How exactly does one prepare to be pelted with tomatoes for hours on end in the Spanish sun?! Fear not, BUCKiTDREAMER, we’ve got you covered. La Tomatina deserves to claim the top spot on every thrill-seeking BUCKiTDREAMER’s planner and as long as you follow our simple tips, you’re sure to have the wildest, messiest and tomato-iest party of your life!
Dress for the Task at Hand
La Tomatina is not a fashion show. You need to come ably and comfortably suited and booted for a day of unparalleled mayhem. The festival is notorious for being wholly unforgiving for those who make the mistake of being unprepared in their apparel. Seasoned La Tomatina attendees will tell you that your outfit can make or break your time at the festival so it is important to choose wisely. It should be obvious that you should not, under any circumstances, wear anything that you plan on bringing home, especially jewelry.
The type of assault your clothes will be under for the day completely surpasses anything that even the most vigorous spin cycle will be able to fix. Thankfully, there are plenty of stalls set up in Buñol ahead of the festival that will cheaply cater for all your sartorial needs. The perfect La Tomatina outfit is simple. All you’ll need is a tight t-shirt and shorts. Unfortunately, and unfashionably, the best footwear for something as squelchy as the festival are undoubtedly Crocs. They’re waterproof, well-gripped and disposable – don’t worry, you can just take all your photos from the ankle up!
Tomatoes are acidic and can become highly irritating if they get in your eyes so this means that eyewear is an absolute necessity. Forego the designer shades in favor of some bog standard swimming goggles. They’re the only thing guaranteed to stay on your face amidst the mayhem and they’ll save you the heartbreak of giving your Ray Bans an indelible red makeover.
Remember, the buses won’t let you back on in all your tomato-splattered glory, so be sure to bring a change of clothes and to toss out your now unwearable battle gear before heading back to the city.
Have a Drink, but Don’t Get Drunk
While everyone likes a drink or two, there are risks associated with drinking too much at La Tomatina that go beyond simply making a fool of yourself. It is not widely known that there can actually be quite a significant wait for the tomato throwing to begin, due to a bizarre tradition. The fun can only commence once a brave soul has retrieved a leg of ham from atop of a very high, very greasy pole. Usually, this can take up to an hour, sometimes more and that wait, combined with a belly full of beer, will lead to an even fuller bladder; trying to find a toilet in Buñol is not a quick and easy task, especially amongst the festival crowds.
For a much more laid back time, we’d suggest sticking to one or two sangrias pre-fight and leaving the heavier drinking until the infamous after-party back in Valencia.
Be Prepared for Utter Chaos
This seems obvious, but there are always some revelers who arrive not expecting the sheer level of madness that occurs on the streets of Buñol. La Tomatina takes no prisoners. When the carnage descends on the Plaza del Pueblo, you are going to be completely obliterated with tomatoes. Oh, and you’ll also be absolutely soaked from above by the locals who are on standby with hoses ready to drench the crowds below.
Who knows, you might even be one of the lucky ones who gets pelted with fat as the hero who liberates the ham attempts to degrease the pole? There are a number of alleys to hide in should you need a break, but the whole fun of the festival is to get as messy as possible. Yes, you will end up feeling like a dirty plate at the end, but that’s half the fun of it. Look on the bright side: tomatoes are excellent natural exfoliators, so your skin will be glowing.
Avoid the Stress and Pick a Package
In the past, La Tomatina used to attract up to 50,000 visitors to Buñol, quadrupling its population. Recently, due to health and safety concerns, attendance numbers have been restricted to a ticketed 20,000 and tickets can be hard to come by, especially for foreigners.
Mitigate any logistic nightmares that may arise by relinquishing all responsibility for organizing your trip to PP Travel. They offer numerous packages to suit all preferences and budgets. Although some may prefer the comfort of their 3 Day 4* Hotel package, we’d suggest going for the 3 Day Hostel Package to ensure maximum adventure.
You’ll stay dorm-style with other La Tomatina revelers, so you can ensure the party never stops. PP will look after accommodation, transport to and from Buñol and tickets for the festival itself while also getting you free access to all the best parties of the week, including the infamous La Tomatina after party, where you and 3,000 others will dance and drink underneath the stars until the sun comes up on another beautiful day in Valencia.
Play by the Rules
In spite of the chaos, La Tomatina comes with a strict set of rules to ensure everyone has a good time without getting hurt. They’re all fairly simple and you should have no problem abiding by them.
Tomatoes must be crushed before throwing
Under absolutely no circumstances may projectiles other than tomatoes be thrown
Do not tear other people’s clothing
Make plenty of room for the tomato trucks to pass through
When the second cannon sounds, you must stop throwing tomatoes
Anyone with backpacks, bags or anything that staff deem to be dangerous can and will be refused entry to the festival
At an event of this size, it just takes one person behaving badly to ruin everyone else’s fun. Follow these rules to make sure you’re not that person and that you don’t turn innocent fun into something much more dangerous.
Avoid If You’re Claustrophobic
The old saying goes that you should always face your fears, but La Tomatina is not the place to do this if you are at all claustrophobic. Buñol’s narrow streets become packed with over 20,000 people for the two-hour duration of the festival, which can prove a nightmare for anyone who isn’t a fan of tight spaces. If the idea of feeling like a sardine is enough to send you into a cold sweat, then perhaps it’s best to stick to a trip that is more to your taste.
Can you already taste the tomato paste, BUCKiTDREAMER? Are you ready to get seriously messy? Well, what are you waiting for? Stop reading immediately and get a hold of those gold dust tickets as soon as possible. When you’re done picking tomato out of your hair, don’t forget to share your BUCKiTDREAM lists across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.