La Tomatina is one of the most popular “odd” events out there. Taking place each year on the last Wednesday in August, La Tomatina sees visitors from all over the globe getting mucky in the World’s Largest Food Fight. The festival can be found in the small town of Bunol, Spain, located outside of Valencia. The town, with a normal population of 9,000, swells to almost 40,000 for the event. The fight traditionally starts when someone retrieves the ham from atop a greased-up pole in the centre of town.
Tomatina is a ton of fun, but it can also be quite dangerous. Here are our 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU SURVIVE TOMATINA
- Wear Closed-Toe Shoes. It is easy to lose flip-flops or loose sandals and you are more than likely to have your toes stomped by the mob of attendees. Wear some old shoes that you don’t mind throwing out after the fight (they’ll be pink by the time you’re done with them).
- It’s Not about Fashion: Wear Multiple Layers of Clothes. It’s well known that during Tomatina drunken revellers are likely to rip your shirts and shorts right off of you. Make sure you’re wearing layers just in case. Also note that often people will tie the torn clothes into a knot, dip them in tomato sludge and whip them into the crowd. It REALLY hurts if you get hit, so keep your wits about you.
- Catch the Earliest Train Possible; the trains fill up quickly. Take a taxi to the station with some friends to beat the crowds. This will also help you get a prime spot close to the pole – if you’re out near the edges you won’t have access to as many tomatoes.
- Put your Belongings in a Plastic Bag (especially your return train ticket) and keep them in your shoes or your shorts. It is easy to lose your belongings in the midst of Tomatina chaos. Keep them close and keep them dry.
- Bring a Water Proof or Disposable Camera. If you want to take pictures it is best to use a disposable camera – it is far too easy to lose or damage your regular one.
- Prepare for Claustrophobia, especially when the trucks finally arrive and the crowd crushes together; you will be shoved in every direction.
- Don’t Expect that you’ll find your Friends Later. There are tens of thousands of people at Tomatina and it is hard to find someone even when you’re close to the major landmarks. Make plans to meet your friends somewhere after the fight as you might not find them while you’re in Bunol.
- Wear Goggles; tomatoes are acidic and will sting if the juice gets in your eyes. Goggles can help this but can’t protect you a hundred percent (especially if you de-fog your goggles with tomato covered fingers)
- Stand Next to Someone Who is Bigger Than You; they’ll attract more projectiles. It’s also less likely someone will rip your clothes off if you have a very large friend close by.
And last but not least:
- Go to the Toilets Before you Leave the Hostel or use the portapotties on the top of the hill. There are no toilets in the main area. The horror of this situation will dawn on you when you see everyone around you drinking pints of sangria and desperately looking for a place to relieve themselves; there are none…except for under the cover of the tomato fight. You’ve been warned.
- Survive and Thrive at La Tomatina (travelandleisure.co.uk)
- Top 10 festivals (jetcracker.wordpress.com)