Go to La Tomatina they said. It would be fun they said.
Well, it was fun, but definitely a once in a lifetime kind of fun. Where do we even begin with our own experience at La Tomatina? I think the only way to describe this event is ‘a shit show’, but the best shit show possible.
What is La Tomatina?
La Tomatina is the world’s largest food fight and is hosted in the teeny-tiny Valencian town of Buñol, Spain. The event began back in 1945 during a parade when a man fell off a float. Enraged, he began to throw tomatoes from a street vendor at onlookers. The next year, locals continued the tradition, and ever since then, the festival has grown into what it is today…25,000 people crowding the streets to throw millions of tomatoes at each other for over an hour.
There are three parts to this festival. Each one, its own kind of chaos.
Part 1: The Ham 9 am – 11 am
The festival kicks off with everyone circling around to watch a couple guys grease up a 30 foot wooden pole topped with a ham. This is no ordinary grease; it is huge tubs of soapy smelling lard. Disgusting. If you’re standing close to the pole, be prepared to have a glob of it in your hair at some point. When the men stand up the pole and the rowdy crowd is given the O.K., mobs of people begin trying to climb the pole to reach the ham. Considering the amount of grease on there, this is borderline impossible, especially with all the locals safe in their homes above dumping buckets of water on everyone.
Even Josh made an attempt to get up there. He didn’t make it very far, but succeeded in helping some chick climb up their a little further using his shoulders…and head. Apparently you have to stack about 6 people high to actually reach the ham, which has not been claimed since 2009. This goes on for about 2 hours until the tomato trucks come down the road.
Unfortunately in Josh’s efforts to climb the pole, he was either pick pocketed or our belongings fell out of his pocket. Luckily we only lost a credit card, driver’s licenses and some cash. It could have been much worse, but those things are replaceable.
Part Two: The Tomatoes: 11 am – 12 pm
The horn sounds and huge dump trucks begin driving down the street with people in the bed hucking tomatoes at the crowd. You’re supposed to squash the tomatoes before throwing them at people, but no one really does that. It hurts.
When the trucks hit certain points in the road, the beds open up and tons of tomatoes are dumped into the street. Everyone rushes forward to grab whatever he or she can and the real fight begins.
Part Three: The Aftermath and After Party
By the time the horn sounds one hour later, the tomato throwing ends and Bunol’s main street is left a tomato river. Everyone leaves the main road and heads to the side streets to be hosed off by the locals who venture out of their homes and offer up their hoses to the tomato covered crowd.
Once hosed off, the streets are lined with locals selling homemade food and cheap beer. The rest of the town turns into a giant party complete with booze, loud music, dancing and some more chaos.
Despite being pick pocketed and hit in the head with more tomatoes than one can imagine, we still had a blast at La Tomatina and recommend that if you’re every in Spain in August to check it out! We’ll be posting a survival guide to attending this festival in the next few days!