La Tomatina, Valencia

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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I know I posted a festival post very recently, when I talked about the Barcelona Correfoc (Fire Run), but Spain just seems to go crazy during the summer months and it's festival after festival after festival. It's a great reason to stick around over the summer if you're living in Spain or planning to make the move!

It takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year and it's coming up on the 27th this year.

Source (sauce?)
La Tomatina is one of the most famous festivals in Spain and draws thousands of people each year. It started around 70 years ago, though no one is exactly sure of its origins and how the first tomato fight started. Despite becoming increasingly popular over the years, it is still steeped in tradition and subject to strict regulation on when you can and cannot throw a tomato at a fellow festival goer. Serious stuff, guys.

The rules are that the fight kicks of at 11am and you have exactly 1 hour to make delicious tomato sauce until the firemen come to hose you down at 12pm on the dot. You are not allowed to bring in any dangerous objects or things such as glass bottles and you are also not allowed to tear anyone's clothing (though it inevitably does seem to happen). For that hour though, you're free to frolick around the old town chucking (pre-squished for safety) Extremadura tomatoes to your hearts content.

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Though La Tomatina is in Valencia the communidad, it takes place in a small town called Buñol rather than the city itself. Much like when the Running of the Bulls comes to Pamplona, the town starts to overflow with tourists in the days around the event and finding accommodation can be pretty tricky. A quick look on Airbnb shows almost no rooms available, or at hugely inflated prices...so think fast if you're coming from far away!

Since last year, the festival has become a bit of a victim of its own success and for health and safety reasons (and probably financial reasons too because, c'mon, this is Spain) you must buy one of 20,000 tickets to enter the festival. No ticket, no entry. Considering the normal population of Buñol is 9,000 people though, I'm still guessing it will be pretty intimate and cosy! Unfortunately, individual tickets for this year's event are already sold out but they are still available from companies such as SpainTastic in bundles, including transport from Valencia and "VIP services", which sounds exciting. Hopefully it involves a shower?

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