|Official name||La Tomatina|
|Observed by||Buñol, Valencia, Spain|
|Date||Last Wednesday in August|
|2022 date||August 31|
|2023 date||August 30|
|2024 date||August 28|
|2025 date||August 27|
La Tomatina (Spanish pronunciation: [la tomaˈtina]) is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, in the east of Spain 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the Mediterranean, in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in a tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes. Since 1945 it has been held on the last Wednesday of August, during a week of festivities in Buñol.
La Tomatina Festival started the last Wednesday of August in 1945 when some young people spent time in the town square to attend the Giants and Big-Heads figures parade. The young people decided to take part in a parade with musicians, Giants and Big-Heads figures. One participant's Big-head fell off, as a result of the festivities. The participant flew into a fit of rage, and began hitting everything in their path. There was a market stall of vegetables that fell victim to the fury of the crowd, as people started to pelt each other with tomatoes until the local forces ended the fruit battle.
The following year, some young people engaged in a pre-planned quarrel and brought their own tomatoes from home. Although the local forces broke it up, this began the yearly tradition. In the following years, the boys' example was followed by thousands of people.
La Tomatina was banned in the early 1950s by Francisco Franco due to the festival's lack of religious importance, however, this did not stop the participants, who were arrested. The people protested the prohibition and the festival was again allowed with more participants. The festivity was again canceled until 1957 when, as a sign of protest, a tomato burial was held. It was a demonstration in which the residents carried a coffin with a huge tomato inside. The parade was accompanied by a music band that played funeral marches. The protest was successful, and La Tomatina Festival was finally permitted and became an official festival.
As a result of the report of Javier Basilio, a broadcaster from the Spanish television program called Informe Semanal, the festival started to be known throughout the rest of Spain. Since then, the number of participants increased year after year as well as the excitement about La Tomatina Festival. In 2002, La Tomatina of Buñol was declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest by the Secretary Department of Tourism due to its popularity.
The 2020 event, which was to be its 75th anniversary, was cancelled in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. It had only been cancelled once before, in 1957, for political reasons. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 event was also cancelled.
Events during the days before the fight include a paella contest near the town’s square, tomato fireworks, and different music bands and parades around the medieval city center. On Wednesday morning, the first event before the tomato battle is the “Palo Jabón”, centered on a long greased pole with a piece of ham at its top. The goal is for participants to climb the pole and make the ham drop, which requires them to climb on each other. During this effort, other celebrants sing and dance in circles, and all participants are doused with water from hoses. Once the ham falls, the tomato battle commences.
Usually, the fight lasts for about one hour, after which the town square is covered with tomato debris. Fire trucks then hose down the streets and participants often use hoses that locals provide to remove the tomatoes from their bodies. Some participants go to the Los Peñones pool to wash. The citric acid in the tomatoes leads to the washed surfaces in the town becoming very clean.
Since 2013 participation in the event has been restricted to the 20,000 holders of paid tickets. In 2015, it was estimated that almost 145,000 kg (320,000 lb) of tomatoes were thrown.
The city council prescribes a short list of instructions for the safety of the participants and the festival:
- Do not throw anything but tomatoes
- Do not tear clothes
- Squash tomatoes before throwing them to avoid hurting others
- Keep a safe distance from trucks
- Stop throwing tomatoes after the second starter pistol shot
- Follow the directions of security staff
- Only throw tomatoes at targets you can see, to avoid hurting others
- Do not throw tomatoes directly at buildings
- Have a great, fun time!
In other countries
La Tomatina Buñol has inspired similar celebrations in other parts of the world:
- Since 1982, the town of Twin Lakes, Lake County, Colorado has held a tomato fight called the "Colorado-Texas Tomato War," in which Texans and Coloradans square off. The Coloradans also attempt to overtake the Texans' straw Alamo effigy, generally succeeding.
- Since 2004 the Colombian town of Sutamarchán holds a similar event on 15 June when a surplus of tomatoes is harvested.
- In Costa Rica the town of San José de Trojas in the San Pedro district of Sarchí canton (Alajuela Province) celebrates a Tomatina during the local Tomato Fair.
- In the town of Dongguan in southern Guangdong province in China, a tomato fight is held on October 19, during which they use up to 15 tons of tomatoes.
- The City of Reno, Nevada in the United States also has an annual hour-long tomato fight that started in 2009. The event seems to take place on the last Sunday of August and is organized by the American Cancer Society. Organizers named the festival La Tomatina, and give full credit for the idea to the Spanish festival.
- In the Indian state of Karnataka, the Karnataka Government banned the hosting of such a Tomatina event in Bangalore and Mysore, after private organizers tried to organize one. Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda is quoted as saying: "In the name of 'La Tomatina' festival, permission should not be granted to waste tomatoes". A similar plan in Delhi was cancelled after received negative response from the public.
- Funtasia Island, Patna hosted a similar La tomatina Holi event on March 26, 2013 at Funtasia Water Park in Patna, India.
In popular culture
- The festival was re-created for the song "Ik Junoon (Paint It Red)" from the 2011 Bollywood film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
- The opening scene of the film We Need to Talk About Kevin depicts the character Eva attending La Tomatina.
- The Movie Spanish Masala has a scene showing the La Tomatina festival.
- The 2007 game Tekken 6 features a stage named "Fiesta del Tomate", based on the Tomatina. The fighters are located in a town in Spain where people in the background are throwing tomatoes to each other. The floor is covered in tomatoes and when an opponent falls, it makes a squishing sound.
- The 2014 British musical film Walking on Sunshine features a tomato fight in an Apulian village. It was shot in Nardò, Italy.
- The 2013 animated series Mickey Mouse episode "Al Rojo Vivo" features Mickey Mouse stumbling across La Tomatina.
- Battle of the Oranges, similar traditional festival in Ivrea, Italy
- Fiestas of International Tourist Interest of Spain
- Running of the Bulls
- ^ "What is La Tomatina, how did it begin and where does it take place?". The Independent. 2019-08-28. Retrieved 2021-08-23.
- ^ Studio, Socarrat. "La Tomatina – Página oficial". latomatina.info (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-08-20.
- ^ Donaldson, Emma (13 July 2020). "La Tomatina Festival 2020 cancelled due to COVID-19". idealista. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
- ^ "Buñol suspende La Tomatina 2021 (Buñol suspends La Tomatina 2021)". buol.es (in Spanish). Ayuntamiento de Bunyol (Bunyol Town Hall). 11 March 2021. Archived from the original on 16 June 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
- ^ SpanishFiesta.org (2022-09-14). "La Tomatina". Spanish Fiesta. SpanishFiesta.org.
- ^ Mullins, Deirdre (2009-06-26). "La Tomatina". RTÉ News. RTE.
- ^ a b Harris, Jenn (August 28, 2013). "La Tomatina festival: 20,000 people, 130 tons of tomatoes, 1 big mess". The Los Angeles Times.
- ^ "La Tomatina". The Taste of Spain. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- ^ "The Rules of Tomatina Festival". Tomatina.
- ^ a b Galván, Javier A. (June 19, 2014). They Do What? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Extraordinary and Exotic Customs from around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Extraordinary and Exotic Customs from around the World. ABC-CLIO. pp. 309–. ISBN 978-1-61069-342-4.
- ^ a b "La Tomatina Tomato Festival Inspires Tomato Battle In USA". Odd Culture. 2011-08-10. Archived from the original on 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- ^ "Bangalore's Tomatina festival cancelled". NDTV 24x7. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- ^ "Splash of La Tomatina adds to park revelry - Funmakers get drenched in tomatoes instead of gulal ahead of festival". Calcutta Telegraph. Archived from the original on April 3, 2013.
- ^ "Abhay Deol goes topless!". Hindustan Times. 2011-05-31. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
- ^ "Check out: Hrithik, Katrina, Farhan & Abhay shooting for Tomatina fest in Spain". Bollywood Hungama. 2011-03-19. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- ^ On location: ‘Walking on Sunshine’, Joanne O'Connor, 27 June 2014, Financial Times
- ^ "Al Rojo Vivo | A Mickey Mouse Cartoon | Disney Shorts". Youtube. Retrieved 18 June 2020.