La Tomatina Turns Buñol’s Streets Red
People from all corners of the world gathered to experience this renowned festival, where 150 tons of tomatoes were thrown.
On this last Wednesday of August, the noon left the center of Buñol crowded with people who couldn’t stop whistling, humming, and shouting with excitement as they awaited the start of the tomato festival. The President of the Generalitat, Carlos Mazón, was also seen at the town hall, accompanied by the mayor of the locality.
The festival attendees, who had been eagerly contending for the ham hanging from a wooden pole in the square, were sprayed with water from various hoses during an hour of endless anticipation. Some of these hoses were from the festival staff, while other sources of water, like buckets and cups, were provided by the locals watching from their balconies. In some residences, groups of children could be seen enjoying the music, while in others, they preferred to cover their building facades with nylon fabrics and plastics. A couple of those balconies even had open umbrellas serving as barriers against the tomatoes.
After noon, the first truck announced its arrival with loud honks. The Tomatina 2023 had begun. As the truck arrived, hundreds of shouts merged in the crowd, playing beneath the swaying water jets. Groups of ten to fifteen randomly selected participants each year initiated the first tomato throws from the truck.
To stay safe and avoid slipping on the vegetable’s juice, the throwers had to maintain their composure thanks to harnesses and ropes tied to the vehicle, as pointed out by town officials. Amidst the crowd, another group of staff positioned in front of the truck cleared the way. Facades began to collect tomato remnants, which cascaded to the ground, while the once pristine white shirts were dyed in the distinctive pink hue of the festival.
The Tomatina battle extended throughout Portal Street. In the town square, on one side of the street, the shots of the ripe vegetable took longer to arrive. Some of the neighbors who wanted to avoid getting stained sought refuge from the massive attack points. On the other side, more trucks arrived, accompanied by additional honks and shouts, painting Buñol with the characteristic red river every year.
In barely an hour, several inches of water and tomato residue had accumulated, covering the crowd’s feet. After most of the tomatoes were vigorously thrown, people opted to cover their fellow participants with handfuls of tomato pulp. As the festival concluded, the crowd squeezed the last moments of enjoyment by creating angel shapes in the red river, sitting down to immerse themselves in it, or forming voluptuous masses, some even reaching the white façade of the town hall, which they also didn’t hesitate to attack.
After one in the afternoon, people consider the battle over, but not the festivities. Many continued to enjoy themselves until the last moment, playing with the juice that covered the sidewalks. Others headed to their homes or to the river, where a refreshing bath awaited them. The tangy scent of pear tomatoes permeated every corner, mingling with the aroma of paellas and meals being prepared near the square.
The Ham Winner One of the pastimes involved brave individuals attempting to climb a greased wooden pole. The grand prize awaited at the top, a ham that would belong to whoever managed to ascend. Whenever someone approached the pole, a wave of shouts filled the street. However, no lucky person managed to claim the coveted prize.
The whole of Buñol eagerly awaited the start of the Tomatina 2023, which commenced at 12 o’clock and dyed the streets of Buñol and the bodies of thousands of participants in red.