La Tomatina will always be one of my most amazing memories ever! It was crazy, it was messy, it was exciting, but most of all – is was so much fun! And I will never forget how hard it was to wash off tomatos from my hair, hahahahaha.
But, first things first. I will walk you through all the aspects of this event. That will give you the feeling if it’s something for you or definitely not. La Tomatina is not such a piece of cake and there are several things you should know before going there. Believe me, I wish I could read this post and prepare myself better before I went there!
What is La Tomatina?
La Tomatina is a tomato fight festival held each year on the last Wednesday of August. It takes place in the small town of Buñol near Valencia city in Spain. Thousands of people from all over the world are coming to this fight which is in fact, World’s Biggest Food Fight. And for sure the most fun one! I met people from Australia, USA, Portugal, UK, Japan but surprisingly, there is only 8% of the participants from Spain.
There are several different legends on how La Tomatina has started. None of them is confirmed but the tradition of a tomato fight takes place in Buñol since at least 1944. Although the festival was banned during much of the Franco years for having no religious significance, it was brought back to life in the 1970s.
In recent times the event has became a victim of it’s own success. With over 50,000 people trying to get into this small Valencian town, the tomato festival caused security concerns. As a result, the town council of Buñol have been forced to limit numbers of participants by issuing tickets to the fight.
Do I need a ticket to see La Tomatina?
Yes and no. If you want to take part in the main fight and throw some tomatoes, yes, you need a ticket. There is an area in the Buñol town that is dedicated to the fight and you can get there only with a ticket.
If you would like to join the event without taking part in the fight, you can stay outside of the main La Tomatina area and you don’t need any ticket to do so. You will be able to see crowds of people going to the fight, feel a bit of La Tomatina atmosphere, but remember – you will not be able to see the fight, even from the distance.
Where to get the ticket and how much does it cost?
Tickets to La Tomatina cost €12 each and can be reserved and printed out on the official La Tomatina website here. Alternatively, you can book an organized tour to La Tomatina with numerous companies. Organized tours are much more expensive and cost between 100 and 150 EUR, but include more than just a ticket to the fight. They offer a full package including a transfer between Valencia and Buñol, La Tomatina t-shirt, entrance to before and after parties, free sangria and paela.
We have chosen the full package trip from Valencia. The big advantage of this was that bus was waiting for us while we have been attending the fight. We could leave there all our stuff and clothes for change as you are not allowed to take it all to the main fight. Also, everything can get easily destroyed during the tomato fight so believe me, you don’t want to take anything with you.
Can I get to La Tomatina from other Spanish cities?
Yes, there is also an option to book La Tomatina trip from Madrid or Barcelona but it’s way more expensive. I would rather recommend you to travel to Valencia on your own. Train connections are pretty frequent and it will be much cheeper than an organized tour from Barcelona or Madrid.
How to get to the fight place?
You have two options. If you have booked organized tour, you just need to go to the departure spot, find your bus and they will take you there. If you are traveling without an organized tour you need to take a train from Valencia Central Station. It’s about 40km away from Buñol and actual schedule info you can check here www.renfe.es . There is no need to book train tickets in advance and the journey takes 50 minutes. The earlier you get to the train the better as trains get really crowdy.
Where to stay?
Although, there are some possibilities to stay overnight in Buñol, the number of places is very limited. I would really recommend you to stay in Valencia. Unfortunately I cannot recommend you any specific place as I stayed in the Airbnb apartment that was absolutely disappointing. I guess I had just bad luck and you can find some really good Bed & Breakfast or nice hotel in Valencia.
How does the tomato fight look like?
The tomato fight takes place in the Plaza Mayor, main part of Buñol. Early morning shopkeepers and business owners of the town cover windows and doors in preparation for the upcoming fight. Can you imagine the number of tomatoes used – over 120,000 pounds?! Plaza Mayor is not that long and wide so if you want to be there right in the middle of the fight, make sure to come a bit earlier.
Me and my best friend wanted to be right in the center of all this craziness so we came early and found the place in the main fight pretty easily. The famous fight starts at 11am after the first banger signal and ends at 1pm after second one. No one is allowed to throw any tomatoes after second banger.
To make the whole event safe there are rules of the fight that you need to follow:
- It is illegal to bring any kind of bottles or other objects that could cause an accident.
- You must not tear t-shirts.
- Tomatoes must be crushed before throwing so that they don’t hurt anybody.
- You must be careful to avoid the lorries which carry the tomatoes as they go right in the crowd to deliver tomatoes.
- As soon as you hear the 2nd banger you must stop throwing tomatoes.
How to dress for La Tomatina?
This is actually a serious question. Not because you may want to look fancy but just to be aware how dirty you will get in the fight. Be prepared that you will have to throw away all your clothes including shoes as it may be impossible to wash off tomatoes. Some people where wearing flip flops but I do not recommend that. It gets very slippery there and very easy to loose your flip flops. Not to mention other people constantly stepping on your feet. Ouch!
My advice is to put some old clothes that you will throw away after with no regrets. I put on old jeans shorts, La Tomatina t-shirt I got in my package together with the ticket and some very old trainers.
Another thing I really recommend is to take with you swimming googles. However that may sound funny, it will really help you to protect your eyes. I had them and it was the best idea ever. My best friend had only sunglasses and some tomatoes got into her eyes what was really painful.
Finally, my last advice – protect your camera and phone. Of course, you want to have some pictures but remember, its’ not a safe place for your digital accessories as everything can get wet and dirty from tomatoes. The best way is to take a waterproof camera, go pro, or buy a waterproof cover for your phone/other digital accessory.
Where to wash after the fight?
There will be public showers available where you can wash yourself but the queue to the shower will for sure be pretty long. Other option is to ask some locals if they can give you the access to the water/rubber hose. We were super lucky as some locals invited us in the front of their garage, shared their water access and helped us to rinse tomatoes from us :)
Hope you find it helpful and let me know if you have any La Tomatina plans! Would love to see your pics!