What To Expect At La Tomatina in Spain

By Auston Matta,

Spain’s famous tomato festival, La Tomatina, is one of the most well known festivals throughout Spain and the world. The festival started in 1945 and there are many theories on how it began, one being that a group of youngsters caused a participant to fall during the procession of a local parade provoking a food fight. In response, the crowd began throwing tomatoes at each other until the local police broke it up. In memory of the event, people attempted to restart the tomato fight but authorities banned it — until 1957 when the local government finally authorized the festival.

Regardless, you might be wondering what to expect at La Tomatina in Spain, and better yet what hotel to wash up at. We’ve got you covered. 

What To Bring To La Tomatina

Get ready for the best food fight of your life:La Tomatina. Photo by aaroncorey CC BY

Ever since, the festival has attracted people from across the world to this messy brawl. The festival takes place in Buñol, a tiny town roughly 25 miles outside of Valencia, the nearest big city. Most Tomatina partakers stay in Valencia for the sheer convenience of having a number of hotels to pick from as well as its lively nightlife which celebrates La Tomatina with many pre and post Tomatina bashes.

Petit Palace Germanias

The showers at the Petit Palace in Valencia will have you scrubbed clean in no time.

We love the proximity of the Petit Palace Germanías to Valencia’s central bus station (Estación Valencia Joaquín Sorolla on Carrer de Sant Vicent Màrtir, 171). With many shuttles, included most  of those included in ticket prices, leaving at at 8 a.m., staying in close proximity is essential–especially since you might still be reeling from the pre-Tomatina parties that flood Valencia. The hotel also has hydro massage showers, perfect for scrubbing away any remnants of tomato juice from all the nooks and crannies of your body.

You need to buy your ticket well in advance to the event to ensure you get access since entrance is limited. You can buy your tickets on the official website with most packages including the bus ride from Valencia to Buñol. Once purchased, print out the ticket and keep it with you to show the bus driver and to gain admittance to the festival itself.

What you need for La Tomatina

Clothes post Tomatina are either garbage or souvenirs. Photo by Reno Tahoe CC BY

It’s best to wear clothes to the festival that you’re willing to throw away after the event, unless you’re planning on saving them as souvenirs. Tomato juice stains clothing, especially if you’re wearing anything cotton or light in color — but many people choose to wear white to accentuate their “battle wounds.” Bring a backpack to the event and take an extra change of clothes that you can wear after the fight is over.

La Tomatina List

Ready, set and GO! Photo by Gabriel Gallo CC BY

Closed-toe shoes are the best choice of footwear to bring to the festival. There are thousands of people crammed into the narrow streets so you will most certainly get stepped on many times during the festival and especially during the fight itself. Either bring shoes that are stain resistant or a cheap pair that you can throw away afterwards. Your shoes will be soaked with tomato juice after the fight so it might be worthwhile to bring a pair of sandals with you to wear after you clean up from the event.

Spanish tomato fight

A victorious Tomatina experience. Photo by GABRIEL GALLO CC BY

Looking for a decadent bath or shower experience post-food fight? The Petit Palace Bristol’s black and white checkered bathroom are the ultimate compliment to those red stains you’ll be scrubbing off your body for a few hours.  

La Tomatina Hotels Valencia

Get clean at the Petit Hotel Bristol in Valencia post-Tomatina.

With super limited accommodation in Buñol and most visitors choosing to stay in nearby Valencia, cleaning up after the fight is a challenge. The festival provides showers, but the lines are often very long. If you’re adventurous, you might just wash up in one of the local water fountains. Bring a bar of soap or a small bottle of shampoo along to wash off and clean the tomato remnants from your hair. Tomato juice is quite acidic so you don’t want it lingering on your skin or it could cause a rash.

Essential Tomatina Items

Goggles are a necessity you wont want to forget. Photo by Reno Tahoe CC BY

Getting tomato juice in your eyes can sting badly from the acid. A pair of goggles is a good method to prevent this unnecessary pain, though there’s not much you can do to avoid the pain of getting pegged in the face by a tomato thrown across the crowd. Goggles are sold onsite by vendors at a fairly reasonable price or you can simply bring your own.

La tomatina essentials

Pack some plastic bags so you can save on tomato sauce for dinner! Photo by Reno Tahoe CC BY

You can either check a bag onsite or carry your bag with you into the event. Either way, you should bring some large plastic bags to protect your clean clothes and any valuable electronics. After the fight, you can use the bags to store you dirty, tomato stained clothes if you choose to keep them instead of tossing them like hundreds of people do at the event itself.

*Cover Photo by Nedim Chaabene CC BY

Would you participate in La Tomatina in Spain? 

See more from Room5:

Follow Auston Matta from Two Bad Tourists on Twitter