La Tomatina

Pimsleur Approach • TraditionsComments (0)

“Hey, I have an idea! Let’s go out and get ourselves pelted with thousands of tomatoes! ”

La Tomatina / Spain, Buñol

Hopefully this isn’t a frequent first-date plan in Bunol, Spain, but it is a highly-anticipated annual festival there. You still have time to book your tickets to Valencia, since the yummy, antioxidant-rich bedlam takes place during the last weekend in August.

While it seems like it would be extraordinarily painful and fraught with both minor and perhaps even major injuries, have no fear. The tomatoes are crushed first so as to reduce the risk of inflicting internal bleeding on your frolicking friends.

The tiny town of Bunyol is used to a capacity of 9,000 people, but when 30,000 more descend on the main plaza, chaos ensues. In fact, some people find themselves disappointed that they can’t get close enough to the main area to be thoroughly covered by the fruit. Street parties throughout the entire town are abundant though, and travelers always find a lively scene.

The event begins promptly at 10am, when a shot rings out and participants attempt to climb a greased pole to capture a ham sitting on top. After about an hour of slippery fun the ham is generally dislodged from the pole, and a second shot rings out, signaling the beginning of the tomato-pelting wars. Festival-goers have exactly one hour to engage in the juicy rumpus, after which the scene looks as though it would be ideal for a horror film director wanting to save money on fake blood. The streets run bright red with tomato juice and participants are covered from head to toe in wet pulp.

Tomatina in 2006.

If you can’t make it to Spain this year, don’t despair. There are other tomato festivals that are similar, including one in Reno, Nevada. If you book your flight now, you can probably still get great rates for the August 27th fete. Visit to find all the information you’ll need to plan your trip to this party, which is also a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes.

For more information on attending the Bunol festival, including where to stay, visit:

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