Picture this: you’re in a tranquil, Spanish town, waking up to another blue sky, the air is warm, the birds are singing, you’re sipping coffee at a local café when – BAM! You’ve been nailed in the side of the head with a tomato.
This is essentially the premise behind La Tomatina – a crazy festival where over 100,000 come together to throw tomatoes at each other for the day, literally painting the town red.
La Tomatina takes place in Bunol, 40km (24.9 miles) west of Valencia, every year on the last Wednesday in August, during a week full of summer festivities. At about 10am that morning, everything kicks off as people try to climb a greased pole to get a ham waiting at the top. After an hour, someone will knock the ham down, and then it’s time to begin.
A shot is fired into the air and for the next hour, people go completely crazy throwing tomatoes at one another. Truckloads of tomatoes are driven in for people to throw, and for that one hour the town square – and everyone in it – is covered in tomatoes. Another shot is fired to signal the end and water cannons are brought in and they blast down everyone and everything insight, leaving slightly stained, wet people behind, and a lot of watery tomato juice.
So, what’s all this madness in aid of? Well, it actually has a pretty great back story – you see, traditionally the women in Bunol weren’t allowed to take part in the festivities, so in 1945 some of the women were sick of the sexism, saw a vegetable cart, grabbed a couple of tomatoes and started throwing them at the men in protest.
That year, they were removed by police but year after year women returned to do the same until… well, it turned into the La Tomatina that can be enjoyed today by all! All you need to take part in this fun and bizarre festival is to be in the right place at the right time!
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