Officially speaking, the annual La Tomatina Festival, which happens on the last Wednesday in August at the Plaza Del Pueblo in Buñol, Spain, is a celebration of the town's patron saint, San Lius Bertrán, and the Virgin Mary. Unofficially, it's an excuse to have a really big food fight. Over 40,000 people pack into the tiny Valencian town to hurl over 90,000 pounds of tomatoes at each other.
The tomato throwing starts at 11 a.m. as soon as — we swear, we're not making this up — a festival participant scurries up a greased pole and retrieves a slice of Spanish prosciutto. As soon as the ham is in hand, a canon shot announces the start of the festivities.
An hour later, another cannon shot marks its conclusion. In those sixty minutes, tomatoes are hurled in every imaginable direction. And although it may seem like a chaotic free-for-all, there are rules to participating.
If you're planning on attending this year's festival on August 31st — or if you're just curious as to what the rules are for an internationally famous food fight — read on.
6 Rules of Tomato Throwing
1. No bottles or hard objects are allowed to be thrown.
Throw tomatoes only.
2. It's forbidden to throw or tear T-shirts. It's not cool! Don't do it.
We repeat, throw tomatoes only.
3. Tomatoes must be squashed before throwing them. Whole tomatoes are more likely to cause bruising and injury.
But first, squash those tomatoes.
4. Make way for the trucks carrying the tomatoes. Let them pass freely.
Tomato-carrying trucks have the right of way.
5. The festivities end when the second siren blares. When it rings out, stop throwing tomatoes immediately.
We're looking at you.
6. People with backpacks, bags, or any object that can cause harm will be denied entrance. This will be strictly enforced.
On the other hand, shoes with traction are encouraged, as are goggles. Furthermore, while it's not an official rule, officials suggest wearing old clothes, adding that some ladies prefer wearing a bathing suit top under their T-shirts for added protection, as T-shirts are likely to get destroyed in the ensuing mayhem.
If you follow these rules and show up with a positive attitude (and a change of clothes for the ride home), you'll be in good shape. Happy tomato throwing!