The last Wednesday of August, in the patron festivities of Buñol, the famous Tomatina is celebrated. It is a prestigious festival that is 75 years old and has become an international event, where tourists from all over the world attend.
Each year, about 145 million tomatoes are made available to the participants that are thrown between them through the streets and squares of the town. (San Luis Street, Cid and the town square).
What is the Tomatina party about?
All Preparations begin the night before. Called "Empalmá Night", term that meansgoing to party until dawn, without even going to bed,but going directly to the expected war of tomatoes.
Around ten in the morning, the first event of the Tomatina, called "Stick Soap", where a jam is hung on a stick full of grease and the participants must lower it by climbing the stick, but avoiding falling from it. Just seeing it, it´s fun, but you have to keep in mind that it´s just the beginning of the party.
When a person manages to pick up the jam, which is usually around eleven in the morning, the signal is given to start the battle with a firecracker. Around 22,000 people, which is the maximum capacity of the party have waited for the arrival of trucks, which are responsible for distributing tomatoes to the crowd.
One of the great moments of the party occurs when the trailers of the trucks rise, dumping a large amount of tomatoes and juice on the streets, while people are taking position and collect as many tomatoes as they can and then throw them.
Just at the moment when the firecracker sounds, men and women of the town and the visitors begin to throw tomatoes at each other for an hour and without stopping and as if there were no tomorrow.
The streets are filled with tomato juice and everything is dyed red and this gives the party its own color.
At the end of the 60 minutes, another firecracker sounds, that signals the end of the battle, and all participants have to stop throwing tomatoes.
Once such wastage of tomatoes ends, the cleaning service goes into action and using pressure hoses, clean walls, floors and even the warriors who have participated in the battle to remove the remains of tomato from their bodies and their clothes.
However, the true tradition is to go to a place called "El Charco de losPeñones" to take off the remains of tomatoes.
The most curious thing, after this pitched battle, is that the cobblestone floor looks bright by the acidity of the tomato.
¿It is a waste of tomatoes?
Who sees the party from outside, may think that the launch of so many kilos of tomato is a real shame to waste this wonderful vegetable or fruit (a topic that is controversial).
But the truth is, that the tomatoes that are used for the battle of Buñol are grown especially for the party and are not used as food for their flavor.
They are tomatoes that come from the municipalities of Xilxes, La Llosa, Almería, Benicarló y Hellín and and if they were not used for the Tomatina festival, they would stay in the field without catching them because they can´t be sold for juices or preserves.
¿How La Tomatina was created?
La Tomatina of Buñol appeared by causality and also as the product of chance. In 1945, at the Buñol parties, a group of young people who were watching a parade of Giants and Big-heads, were so boredwho thought of joining the committee to give more sauce to the event.
At that time, one of the participants stumbled and fell. It was so much his anger, that he started throwing everything in his path. Near the place, there was a vegetable stand with a box of very bright tomatoes, so he picked them up and started throwing them everywhere.
This act spread to the public, who also started throwing tomatoesuntil the police arrived and dissolved the crowd.
The following year, the young people weighed that it would be a good idea to repeat that event, which had been so fun and again, decided to live the experience.
For years, the police ended that riot, but thanks to popular pressure, the repression disappeared. Thus, the participants had greater freedom and began to bring the tomatoes from their homes, to the relief of the greengrocers.
In 1983, the party was the protagonist of a broadcast on the "InformeSemanal"program, and since then, its popularity has not stopped. Today, this holiday has become one of the most anticipated parties in the calendar of Spain.
In 2002, La Tomatina was declared an international tourist party thanks to the influence of visitors from different parts of the worldand the growing interest of the media that are present every year at the festival.
In addition, it is waiting for the candidacy, to declare the festival as intangible cultural heritage of the humanity of UNESCO, a distinction that enjoys the so-called "Las Fallas de Valencia".
Children can participate in a mini Tomatina, that take place in a town square when the main party ends. The event is free and parents can take pictures of their childrenfrom the barriers, while they have fun throwing tomatoes.
How can you participate in La Tomatina?
If you want to participate in the festival of Tomatina, you should know that it is not enough to go, but you will have to buy tickets.
From 2013, the municipality of Buñol decided to control the capacityof visitors with only 22.000 participants. In other edition of the festival, 45.000 people have been presents which put the crowd at risk, in addition, collapsing the access roads and damaging infrastructure.
So, if you want to be the protagonist of the party, you will have to buy the tickets on the official website.
Here, you have all the information about access, advice, rules and prevention measures.
In the case of theTomatina for children, the event is totally free and you don´t need to buy tickets.