La Tomatina of Buñol, battle with tomatoes

La Tomatina at Buñol is not for the faint hearted Credit: Valencia Tourism

It was in August 1945 that a number of young men attended a Giants parade in the town of Buñol (Valencia) but there was a bit of an unscheduled scuffle.

Suddenly the peace was shattered and members of the crowd raided a vegetable stall and started pelting each other with tomatoes until the local police brought the battle to an end.

The following year, various groups of friends turned up with their own tomatoes and started a tradition that was  banned for some years but in 1957, there was a formal burial of a giant tomato in a coffin accompanied by a band playing the funeral march.

Annual tomato fight

From then on it was all systems go for the event which was recognised in 2002 as a Festivity of International Tourist Interest and takes place on the last Wednesday of August each year.

Thanks to TV coverage, up to 50,000 people have descended upon Buñol and it became very difficult to control so nowadays that is a maximum of 20,000 allowed and they have to purchase a ticket costing €12 to take part even to watch.

The tomatoes are shipped in from Extremadura as they are cheaper than local tomatoes and in theory the event can’t start until one person climbs a greasy pole and liberates a ham but because that take so long, invariably mayhem breaks out as people get hold of the red fruit and start throwing it.

Squash your tomato first!

Enjoying a tomato bath
Credit: La Tomatina de Buñol

There is one major rule which is that you should squash the tomato first so it doesn’t hurt too much and that you are only allowed to battle for one hour and then you have to stop and the town starts hosing down the streets immediately.

If you are thinking of going, visit to apply for a ticket, or a number of travel agents offer a range of options including coach trips and overnight accommodation with entry.

Kids aren’t forgotten

Kids are not allowed to take part but they have their own event, normally on the following Saturday when those aged from four to 14 can enjoy their own mini-battle (with no parents allowed in the area) for about half an hour and this is a free event with no advance booking.

The children aren’t forgotten
Credit: La Tomatina de Buñol

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page