"La Tomatina", tomato throwing in Buñol in the Community of Valencia
This festival started on the last Wednesday of August 1945. It all started with a group of young people who were on the town square to watch the parade of giants and big heads. They were bored by the way the procession was going and decided to make a hole in the procession. This "mischief" led to the fall of one of the participants who, in a fit of rage, started hitting everything in his path. By a twist of fate, a vegetable stand became the target of the euphoric crowd. The people gathered there became heated and started throwing tomatoes at each other, until the security forces put an end to the vegetable fight. The following year, the youngsters repeated the mischief voluntarily and took the tomatoes from home. It went on like that over the years. Although the police broke up the fight every time this tradition was repeated, the young people of Buñol did not give up; and so, without knowing it, they had made history. La Tomatina was banned in the early 1950s, but this did not stop the participants, who were even arrested.
The funeral of the tomato
In 1957, the festival was cancelled and this led to the celebration of the "Burial of the Tomato", a demonstration in which locals carried a coffin with a tomato inside. The procession was accompanied by a brass band playing funeral marches and was a great success. Pressure from the people meant that the veto was lifted and the celebration was allowed to resume.
The festival became popular in the rest of Spain thanks to a report by the journalist Javier Basilio, which aired in the Spanish television programme "Informe semanal" in 1983. Since then, the number of participants and the enthusiasm for La Tomatina have grown year after year.
The influx of participants from all over the world and the growing interest of the international media led to La Tomatina de Buñol being declared a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest by the General Secretariat of Tourism in 2002.
The tomatoes used as ammunition in the Tomatina are from a Castellón company that agreed with the city council to supply surplus pear tomatoes for the celebration. These tomatoes are planted in April and harvested between July and August. These tomatoes do not pass the quality control tests for consumption, and if they were not used for the celebrations they would not be harvested and would remain in the fields, resulting in losses for the person in charge of these fields and limiting the number of workers. It should be emphasised that these are not tomatoes as we find them in our ordinary shop. They are rotten or overripe tomatoes that are almost reduced to a pulp when picked up, eliminating the risk of injury or infection when thrown.
A maximum of 12,000 tickets will be available in 2022. The tickets can be purchased from various tourist organisations and by private individuals. Until 19 August, you can buy tickets online at the official La Tomatina website.
The price per ticket is 12 euros. The proceeds are mainly used for cleaning the city after the festivities. These costs increase every year.
All information on "La Tomatino" can be found on the official website.