Tomato Food Fights

Tomato Food Fights


Tomato lovers should know this one-of-a-kind tradition. In Buñol, a small town in Spain, an annual festival of tomato warfare occurs. Although it was supposed to take place on August 26 – or simply the last Wednesday in August – the festival was canceled due to reasonable circumstances. If you’re curious about how you can join, they even have an official website!

You won’t believe how this festival started! On the last Wednesday of August in 1945, some young people attended the Giants and Big-Heads figure parade. These young jokesters joined in on the crazy energy and eventually knocked over an attendee who, in rage, decided to hit everything in his path. Soon, everyone in the crowd went into mayhem and started pelting each other with vegetables from the nearby market stall. Eventually, local officials ended the vegetable battle; however, this would not end as a minor event. 

The following year, the young jokesters initiated another quarrel, but this time brought tomatoes from their home. Although the police tried to end this tradition early, the boys continued their jests. La Tomatina was banned in the early 50s because Spanish Francisco Franco stated that it had no religious significance. The festival's cancellation lasted until 1957 when participants and residents pulled off a strange protest to get their message across a tomato burial. The tomato burial was practically a protest in which residents carried a coffin with a huge tomato inside. They even played music according to the atmosphere, funeral marches. Although residents and participants may have felt deprived in those years, with the tomato burial they were able to remove the ban and even gain more popularity. 

La Tomatina, an incredible festival filled with tomatoes, is a joyous occasion that involves participants to enter a tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes. I would probably join it one day as well. However, if you do plan on joining there is a limited amount of space! Only 22,000 people can join, plus they must all be 18+ and pay a fee of 750 euros ($1,126); Around 5,000 free tickets are set aside for residents who live in Buñol. So make sure to grab this opportunity quickly! If you happen to be lucky enough to get a spot, your day could look like this: starting at midnight trucks loaded with tomatoes will drive through the town; as soon as the truck drops off its shipment, participants have a free for all and can start chucking tomatoes at each other. Some simple guidelines participants need to follow are:

  • The festival starts at midnight and ends at 1:00 pm sharp.

  • Do not throw bottles or hard objects (since they can hurt others).

  • Do not tear T-shirts nor throw them.

  • Squash the tomatoes before throwing them so the hit will be less painful. 

  • Keep a safe distance from trucks.

  • Follow security and staff directions.

It is because of these guidelines that participants can have a fun and safe time. 

With tomato remnants everywhere, you may be concerned about how the city manages its new red-style. An hour after the tomato fight ends, trucks will drive through the city once again and hose down everything. Plus, since tomatoes are acidic, they also clean the ground. People however also need to rinse off. With limited space in public showering areas, participants can also wash up at the Buñol River. By the end of the day, people are both content and clean.


“Spanish Tomato-throwing Festival La Tomatina Charges Participation Fee for First Time.” ABC News, 2013. Accessed 17 Sept. 2020

Speak, Clare. “10 Things You Didn't Know About La Tomatina, Spain's Messiest Festival.”  Culture Trip, 2018. Accessed 17 Sept. 2020

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