Throw Tomatoes at La Tomatina Festival in Buñol, Spain

Paint the town red in the world's biggest food fight.

Party! La Tomatina draws thousands of young revellers to a small town in Valencia every summer, where 150,000 squashed tomatoes are just the beginning of the carnage. Time to let go of your inhibitions, and your tomatoes.


Buñol's Youth Say it With Tomatoes

La Tomatina Festival

If you thought this was a quaint local festival, think again. What began around 1945 as a bit of a youthful ruck at a parade in Buñol has, during the decades since, become a major event for crazy young things around the world. At its peak in 2012 there were thought to be 45,000 participants in La Tomatina. Since 2013 there has been a limit of 20,000 tomato-throwers and a €10 entry fee.

La Tomatina takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year. If you've got a wild streak, it really should be on your bucket list. Youthful exuberance and drinking boots essential.


Happy Tomato Hurling at La Tomatina!

la tomatina

Image by Reno Tahoe under Creative Commons license.

Buñol's modest population of 9,000 swells ridiculously during the festival and places to stay are limited. Book early! Many visitors opt for the nearby city of Valencia on Spain's east coast - and most package deals will offer accommodation here.

You'll need to book a ticket in advance to take part in La Tomatina, and it's advisable to buy a package from the official provider . They'll sort the event wristbands before you arrive so you won't need to take your passport to this very messy party. Options include hostel or hotel packages and day trips from Spanish cities including Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid.

The action begins at 10am on Plaza del Pueblo, when you can attempt to climb the palo jabòn (a greasy pole with a ham perched on top, now you ask). One pork-loving punter gets to keep the ham, and the fruity fun begins in earnest at 11am with a blast from a water cannon and the arrival of the tomato trucks. It's every man for themselves for the next hour.

Follow the rules and you'll have fun: crush your tomatoes before throwing; throw only tomatoes; watch out for the trucks; and make sure you stop when the second water cannon blasts. Ladies, be warned that this event is considered by many as an alternative wet t-shirt competition! Old hands at the tomato-throwing game recommend that you wear clothes and closed shoes that can be binned later. Don't wear flip flops, whatever you do. Some use goggles, others tuck in their t-shirts to keep a clean piece of fabric with which to wipe splattered eyes - just have a plan! Bring the bare essentials, because everything WILL get coated in tomato juice. Those with cameras or phones are often targeted with mischievous delight.

Once the fighting is over, the streets will be cleaned by fire trucks and the festival-goers hosed down by obliging locals. Or there's los Peñones de Buñol, a natural pool nearby perfect for a cleansing dip.


Do La Tomatina in Big Style

la Tomatina

Image by Reno Tahoe under Creative Commons license.

In for a penny, in for a pound... don't just turn up for the tomato-hurling, throw yourself into the pre and after parties (foam, bare flesh and amorous youth), music festival and foodie events. We can't imagine many people take children anywhere near La Tomatina (it's an adult-only zone), but there is a cute children's version on the Saturday before the main event.


There's a time in your life when you want to get half-naked with thousands of other young people, and party. And who says you shouldn't be covered in tomatoes when you do it? This is one mental food fight, and you should get La Tomatina ticked off your bucket list before you're past it!



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Written by Maxine Clarke: a writer, mummy, missus and campervan-lover. Used to travel, now enjoys a good holiday! Follow her on Twitter.

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