This is, without a doubt, one of the most colorful festivals in Europe. In fact, if there’s one event I’d like to attend before I die, this just might be it. La Tomatina (The Tomato Throwing Festival) is, well, a giant food fight.
It takes place every year on the last Wednesday in August (that’s next Wednesday) in Bunol, a small industrial town about 25 miles from Valencia, Spain. On the morning of the big day, around 30,000 people gather and enjoy a breakfast of Chorizo and Rose wine. Trucks roll in from the countryside, bringing in about 140 tons of tomatoes. By 11:00 AM, with everyone feeling sufficiently festive (see Chorizo and Rose wine), things start to get very interesting.
A tomato-filled rocket is shot into the air, at which point all hell breaks loose. Thousands of people commence with flinging tomatoes at each other, making a giant mess of the place, and having, I imagine, one heck of a good time.
There are only a couple rules: throw only pre-squashed tomatoes, and don’t throw anything besides tomatoes. People tend to wear old clothes and safety goggles, though tomato-soaked shirts are often torn off by the end of the madness, leaving revelers scantily clad and smothered in red. The tomato mayhem goes on for about two hours, at which point another rocket launch signifies the end, and everyone happily helps in the big-time clean-up effort.
La Tomatina is a joyous communal event, full of camaraderie and harmless good fun, bringing people together in peace, harmony, and tomatoes.