How Spain turned 2.5 million tomatoes into one of the biggest and most unusual parties on Earth


Food fight!  Droves of people armed only with tomatoes go at it for the world’s largest food fight!  Don’t worry about the cafeteria lady or the school principal; this food fight is sanctioned and even recognized by the Spanish government as a legit, touristic event. 

Every year on the last Wednesday of August, tomato trucks packed with over 300,000 pounds of tomatoes, roll through the tiny town of Buñol, where tens of thousands from all over the world gather to battle.

It’s hard to believe, but this is more than just a couple of drunk college kids throwing rotten food at each other; this  August marks the 70th anniversary of this bizarre Spanish tradition. 

Here’s how it works: At 10 a.m. on the day of Tomatina, a ham is hung from a greased up pole called the Palo Jabón.  Participants try their best to climb the slippery pole and drop the ham from the top amidst crowds of people singing and dancing in anticipation of the coming battle.  Once the coveted ham is dropped, water canons blast water in the air, tomato trucks roll into town, and it’s every man for himself in an all out tomato throwing battle.

2017 will be the second year that they’ve actually required tickets for entry (about 10 euros), to control the number of people and keep everyone safe.  There are a few official rules:

  1. You’re only allowed to throw tomatoes (no knives, no rocks, no carrots or any other produce…duh)
  2. Tomatoes should be squashed before hurling so they don’t hurt too bad when they hit.
  3. Once it’s over, no more throwing stuff.

Aside from that, it’s on.  

But the party is more than just tomato throwing.  In the days leading up to the food fight, the small town of Buñol, population 9,000, starts seeing visitors from all over the world, who come to enjoy parades, fireworks, live music, and even a paella cook off!

Here’s how you get involved.  Catch a flight into Valencia (about $1200), then either catch a train from the Sant Isidre train station in Valencia or bus from Valencia to Buñol.  Or for no hassle, book a cheap package that includes roundtrip transportation from Valencia (costs an extra about 20 euros, but no headache of finding your way there etc.).  Book your hostel/hotel in advance because 99% of the year there are vacancies around town, but during the week of La Tomatina festival, forget about it!  And remember to get there early.  By 7 a.m. tons of people are already lining up and partying in the streets. So what are you waiting for?!  Let’s get saucy for La Tomatina Festival 2017!

Resources (In No Particular Order):

Getting to and from Bunol from Valencia:

Official La Tomatina Festival Website (in English or Spanish):

La Tomatina description, tips, directions, purchase transportation and lodging:

If you can Read Spanish here is the official Buñol website where you can buy tickets:


If you can’t read Spanish, here’s a third party that sells tickets also:

Great Resource for Tomatina Festival and other worthwhile Spanish Festivals:

Great Run-Down on La Tomatina Festival: