La Tomatina – A «Food Fight» Festival
Have you heard of the Tomatina Festival? It is known as the “world’s biggest food fight”, where thousands of people congregate on the last Wednesday of August in the small town of Buñol, just 30 minutes from Valencia.
The Tomatina Festival now draws 20,000 people from around the world to join in on the food fighting festivities! Around 130 tons of tomatoes are used each year for this event, but don’t worry — they say the tomatoes used are not eating quality. This festival is so popular the city had to put a limit on its capacity — in 2012 there were 50,000 people in attendance, in a city whose population only amounts to 9,000! Now participants need to buy tickets in advance.
Trucks full of tomatoes enter the city center where ‘soldiers’ wearing swimsuits and goggles are ready to throw and receive the red vegetable. The signal for the beginning of the battle is the firing of water cannons and then chaos begins – it’s every man/woman for himself/herself.
After an hour the fight reaches its end. When the end comes, no more tomatoes can be thrown. Participants covered with red juice start leaving and the cleaning trucks start their busiest day of the year.
The Tomatina Festival began in 1945, which is actually not that long ago considering most Spanish holidays are hundreds of years old! There are a few legends as to how the food fight started. Some say it first happened when a food stand was knocked over during a parade leading to the people involved throwing tomatoes at one another. Others say it began with a group of kids.
Just like many Spanish holidays, La Tomatina isn’t just a one day event. In the days leading up to the actual holiday, there will be parades, fireworks, and parties in the streets. The night before the big event, you’ll find the main squares full of people in the evenings cooking paella over wood fires in the streets.
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