Impressive facts about La Tomatina Festival: Understanding the culture (Spain)

What comes to your mind when I say Spain and Tomatoes?? And if I further add a movie named Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to it, which is that one thing that pops up in your mind??

Yes, you got it, I am talking about the La Tomatina festival of Spain.

Whether you are somebody going to Spain to study, work or even somebody going there only as a tourist on a holiday, there is one thing that you would not want to miss and that is La Tomatina festival. Who doesn’t like slipping and sliding through the alleys while having lots of fun?

Here is a guide for you to understand the La Tomatina festival, which is also widely known as world’s largest food fight.

What is La Tomatina festival?

La Tomatina is the Spanish version of Holi festival of India, just the difference is instead of colours, Spanish people use tomatoes to play. Why? For utter enjoyment, that’s it. La Tomatina festival-goers don’t hesitate as they join the throngs of people swimming in, wading through, and throwing tomatoes.

Where is it held?

La Tomatina festival takes place in the Valencian town of Buol, which is located in eastern Spain. Buol is about 30 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea and has a population of about 9,000 people. The city is enclosed by mountain ranges.

How did it start?

Ever heart of Serendipity? If not that means discoveries made by chance. And La Tomatina is also one of the serendipities. It goes back to mid-1940s when a public food fight accidentally took place in Buol. On the last Wednesday of August in 1945, a parade in the town square featured people dressed as giants with large heads.

A group of young people apparently caused one of the parade’s participants’ big head to fall off, causing the costumed individual to become enraged. The unfortunate person began wreaking havoc along the parade route, colliding with a market stall selling tomatoes. This chain of events resulted in spectators picking up tomatoes and throwing them at one another, giving rise to the term “La Tomatina.” The next year, a group of people organised a tomato fight, wherein they bought their own tomatoes from their homes.

Surprisingly, in the early 1950s, the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco banned the festival as it lacked any religious significance. In 1957 those in favor of the festival carried a large tomato in the coffin and buried it in protest of the ban. Hence La Tomatina was allowed and made an official festival by the authorities.

The Spanish Secretary of the Department of Tourism declared La Tomatina as the Festivity of International Tourist Interest in 2002.

When does it take place?

Every year on the last Wednesday of August.

How is it celebrated?

Trucks carrying hordes of tomatoes arrive in Buol’s Plaza del Pueblo at 11 a.m. on the day of La Tomatina, according to latomatinatours.com. The messy food fight typically starts with the firing of water cannons and lasts about an hour. Just after the celebrations, trucks are driven around town, spraying the streets with water to clean them. Because of the high acidity of the tomatoes, the streets of Buol are typically extremely clean after being rinsed of tomato residue.

How to get the tickets?

Till 2013, anyone could make their way to the La Tomatina festival in Spain. But for the past few years, entry is allowed by tickets only. Official ticket partner sites sell ticket packs that include travel from cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. As per Spain’s official tourism website, general admission for La Tomatina is €10 (approximately 854 INR).

For more information, visit the official La Tomatina website here.

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