Two years ago one of my best friends and I decided to take a wee road trip to Valencia for the annual festival of La Tomatina which takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year. By the way, I say “wee road trip” because I had driven to Spain the month before and had spent all summer there, so venturing to Valencia was easy. For those of you who have never heard of La Tomatina it is basically a massive tomato throw fight where you get to lob tomatoes (yes that’s right, lob tomatoes at people’s faces, backs or at someone’s forehead), as you can see from the photo below.
We bought tickets for the festival earlier on in the year, like in February/March as we knew we definitely wanted to go and tick it off our bucket lists. The prices of the tickets at the time were fairly cheap at about £180pp which included two nights at a hotel & entry to all the events for the three days (a cracking deal!) The first night kicked off at L’Umbracle in the heart of the zone Las Artes y Las Ciencias. If you have ever visited Valencia I am sure you will have seen these buildings and if you didn’t then I’m worried.
The first night of the festival was insane, imagine watching the sunset and then partying in this tropical garden. Yup, the vibes were real. A little tip that I would give if you’re planning on going is; party as hard as you want the night before, but just make sure you don’t miss the coaches that leave at 7am the next day to take you to Buñol for the actual festival (I met a few people at the La Tomatina after party that missed the actual tomato fight as the first night at L’Umbracle was just sooo good).
The second day of the festival is the tomato fight. Come prepared – don’t wear your good clothes, in fact, the less clothes the better. I think I ended up throwing away a t-shirt before the tomato fight had even begun as the Spanish locals who were all stood on the balconies of their flats tipped buckets of cold water over us. I would also highly recommend bringing a pair of goggles – getting tomato juice in your eye really isn’t that fun & some people had really bloodshot eyes for the rest of the day. If you decide to go and you decide to not wear goggles, because lets face it, it’s not exactly the most attractive look… then don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The actual tomato throw festival itself is insane. There’s such a big build up over the course of the morning, there are lots of TV crews filming and half the people are still drunk from the night before. Also, during the morning loads of people attempt to climb a large pole, which just so happens to be covered in grease in order make it really difficult (borderline impossible) to get to the piece of jamón at the top. If you manage to get to the top you are basically the La Tomatina Champ, however I don’t think anyone was able to reach it in 2015. (Check out the link above to see a video of it)
From what I remember the tomato fight starts at about midday, after a long morning of waiting everyone is buzzing for the tomato fight to begin. The trucks which are full of tomatoes come down the street with people in the trailers throwing tomatoes – it’s at this moment where you get a massive adrenaline rush and realise it is game on. Loads of people had their Gopros with them and there are also lots of people selling protective cases for phones in the village, but to be on the safe side I didn’t bring mine, I just had a disposable waterproof camera. So, unfortunately my photos aren’t the best. Also another tip, after the tomato fight is over there is a little stream you can go to for a wash, the other option is to be hosed down by a local who will happily help rinse you, but the queues are extremely long!
Overall, the whole of the 3 days is really well organised and there is even an Official After Party after the tomato fight, again this was insane. The coaches pick you up and take you to an old industrial estate (“polígono” in Spanish) which is like a good 45 minutes away, I remember thinking we were in the middle of nowhere, but boy was I wrong. The venue was amazing…
I don’t think I have experienced anything crazier than this tomato fight, I actually can’t put into words how fun it was. So my advice is to go and try it for yourself. Obviously it’s a lot cheaper if you book in advance and book cheap flights… but it still isn’t too late to go this year! It’s an unforgettable experience, so go try it.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.