La Tomatina is a hugely popular food fight festival held annually on the last Wednesday of August in Bunol near Valencia, Spain. Thousands of people travel from across the world to take part in this, the worlds biggest food fight, during which more than one hundred metric tons of over ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.
Me and my family decided to make Valencia our holiday destination in 2011 so that we could attend this special event.
We travelled to Bunol on the metro from our hotel in Valencia. As soon as we arrived we were overwhelmed with the number of people already there and still arriving. We walked along the streets towards the tomato zone and along the way found event staff giving out cartons of wine to people. As we got closer we realised these people had yellow wristbands on as some sort of VIP deal. I always have a collection of bracelets and wristbands on at any given time and on this particular day it happened to include a yellow ribbon which managed to score me a free carton of wine.
The streets were packed and there were people from as far as Australia who had travelled over especially for the fight. It was an amazing atmosphere and locals were on their balconies watching.
Then huge trucks filled with tomatoes drove down the streets whilst people throw the tomatoes down to us. I can’t describe how tight a squeeze it was. These trucks were nearly as wide as the streets yet there were also thousands upon thousands of people in the way. Since 2013 they have enforced ticketing for the event so only 20,000 people will be able to participate but prior to this, including the year in which I partook in the event it was anywhere between 40,000- 50,000 people.
It was every man for himself once the madness ensued as handfuls of tomato slop was lobbed at each other whilst stood in the thick red juice of the fruit. It lasted for an insane hour and by the end I was coated in a thick layer of tomato.
As we made our way back to the metro we were able to be hosed down by locals but whilst it helped it didn’t get us anywhere near to clean. Once we got back to our hotel in Valencia I had a shower but even after an hour of washing and a lot of shampoo my hair was still slightly knotted..
It was a lot of fun and a unique experience for sure. In fact it’s probably in the top 5 of my most bizarre travel experiences.