Of the many festivals held across the world each year, perhaps none are more popular than the La Tomatina festival held in Bunol, Spain. Billed as the "World's Biggest Food Fight," the tomato throwing festival draws people the world over to the tiny town to take part in throwing more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripened tomatoes at one another in the streets. In past years, the festival has drawn close to 50,000 people cramming the streets to literally soak up the atmosphere while being covered in tomato juice. However, due to the logistical difficulties of having so many people crowd into the small town, officials have now limited the number of participants to 20,000.
A tradition since the mid-1940s, the festival's origins are a bit unclear. Many different stories have been told, such as it began as a food fight between friends, a practical joke on local musicians, an attack on town leaders by disgruntled residents, and many other possible beginnings. However it started, it has continued to grow in popularity. Done in honor of the town's patron saints Luis Bertran and the Virgin Mary, La Tomatina is today seen as a joyous celebration of the rich history and pride that symbolizes the nation.
While many think tomato throwing is the only thing that goes on, that could not be further from the truth. A number of other events going on during the week-long festival, such as:
Starting on August 27 this year, La Tomatina provides its participants with the chance to take part in an event that is unlike any in the world. With large trucks hauling in tomatoes, the fight begins with the firing of water cannons shortly after 11 a.m., and then everyone's on their own during the fight. For the next hour, it's controlled chaos as the streets and the people in them turn into a sea of red, tossing squished tomatoes at one another until the water cannons fire yet again, signaling the end.
To make sure you have a fabulous food fight, event officials offer several suggestions to make sure you stay safe and secure during your tomato throwing. Among their helpful hints are:
- Wear old clothing that can be thrown away afterward
- Use a waterproof camera if taking pictures
- Wear goggles to protect your eyes
By taking a few precautions and using some common sense, attending the La Tomatina festival can be yet one more event that can be crossed off one's bucket list.
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