Bunol is an attractive Mediterranean town in the Spanish province of Valencia, best known for being home to one of the world’s strangest festivals. La Tomatina grew out of a subversive gesture made back in 1945 and has since gained international notoriety as the world’s biggest tomato fight – a riotous brawl that takes place in Bunol’s streets on the last Wednesday in August every year.
La Tomatina’s popularity is such that a handful of spin-off events take place in cities around the world. This year, London’s Spanish communities have organised a version of the festival right on our doorstep and participants won’t even have to wait until August.
Tomatina London takes place in Victoria Park this Sunday (June 16th) and, as in Bunol, there’s little in the way of rules. Anyone who wants to take part has only to acquire a fresh supply of overripe tomatoes; that said, a change of clothes probably won’t go amiss either. The festival is an infamously messy affair, with participants usually ending up covered head to toe in pulp, juice and pips.
Optimistic festival-goers are sure to be hoping for Mediterranean sunshine this weekend, but regardless Tomatina London is probably the best taste of Spain we’re likely to get in London this weekend. The Victoria Park venue is judiciously chosen; it’s easy to reach from the city centre and a beautiful spot to spend a Sunday afternoon in.
La Tomatina was originally a protest instigated by young Spaniards who’d been excluded from a concurrent carnival. Despite the attempts of Bunol authorities to put a stop to festivities, the practice caught on in subsequent years and was ultimately officially sanctioned. Nowadays, the festival draws delighted crowds from around the world; organisers supply an arsenal of thousands of tomatoes every year.
Those staying in central London hotels this weekend and travelling via the London Underground can get to Victoria Park via the Mile End tube stop. Tomatina London kicks off at 5pm.