Most people around the world have seen the film footage every year of the famous Pamplona festival in Spain, which is also called Sanfermines, and the San Fermin Festival. While the name may not sound familiar you should recognize it as ‘The Running of the Bulls’.
This festival is held annually from July 6-14 and the most notorious part of it is the Bull Run. This is when a dozen bulls are let loose and they go on a wild rampage throughout the narrow alleys and streets of the historical old city.
The Bull Run starts on July 7 and continues for seven straight days at 8 am. Anyone can run ahead of the bulls as long as they’re older than 18.
The Pamplona Festival is one of the most popular in Europe as the city of 300,000 attracts about a million people every year for it. However, if you plan on going you should book a hotel room early as the rooms can get quite full quickly.
The first festivals can be traced back to the 12th century when livestock shows featured bullfights. The festival took place in the fall for about 300 years until moving to the summer. The festival itself is in honour of the city’s patron saint, San Fermin.
The opening ceremonies take place on July 6 and they’re known as the Chupinaxo. This takes place in front of city hall at the Plaza Consistorial at 12:00 noon, with the Evening Vespers religious service held afterwards.
There are other aspects to the festival, such as the Gigantes, which is held daily at 9:30 am. This features larger-than-life figures that originated the mid 1800’s. The giant figures are made to represent mythical kings and queens of Asia, Europe, America, and Africa. They’re dressed in satin and lace and are quite popular with the children.
There are also plenty of meals that are washed down with sangria as well as late night snacks for people who are still up at 3 am. The Pobre Mi Closing Ceremony takes place on July 14 and it features a moving candlelight procession in the Plaza Consistorial.
While the festival can be dangerous for those who run with the bulls, it’s basically a week-long entertaining party for the rest.
Pamplona is situated in the northern province of Navarra in Spain. It’s approximately an hour away from the French border and the Pyrenees Mountains.
It’s about a seven hour drive from Madrid and five hours from Barcelona. It takes about 3.5 hours by train from Madrid and six hours from Barcelona. You can also fly there in under an hour from Madrid and Barcelona.
Photo credit: Mordac