San Fermin or the Running of the Bulls, is a 9 day festival which celebrates the city's first bishop Saint Fermin. Legend has it that Saint Fermin was sentenced to death because of his catholic beliefs. He was tied to a bull and was dragged till he died. To commemorate this, the bulls are led through the streets of the city's old quarters and into the bull ring stadium.
6th of July: Pre celebrations
On the morning dress yourself from head to toe in white. You will then want to buy the traditional red bandanna and sash from the many sellers at Taconera Park. Then plan to make your way to Plaza Consistorial. Don't forget to pick up sangria from a convenient store on your way. The crowd should start forming and begin a wild sangria splashing party. At noon the Mayor of Pamplona officially starts the opening ceremony when a Txupinazo rocket goes off.
7th of July: Running of the bulls
This is the first day of Encierro which is the running of the bulls. As such it will be highly competitive to get a spot in the race. To run you simply just show up at Ayuntamiento de Pamplona from 6:30 to 7:30 am. It is free to run and does not require registration. The full course is 875 metres, however it will be shorter depending on your starting position. The race takes place at 8:00 am.
Organisers shoot up the first rocket to notify the runners that the bulls have been released. They shoot up a second rocket to say all the six bulls are now on the street. It is important to listen out for the second rocket as this serves as a warning to you. You can feel the crowd of runners become very anxious as the seconds tick over from the second rocket. When you can see the bulls in the distance, run as fast as you can.
Tickets are not required for San Fermin. You need to arrive early to reserve a spot to run with the bulls. To watch the race from a balcony, you need to rent a balcony many months in advance.
Pamplona is a small town with a limited supply of accommodation. Therefore you need to book accommodation at least 6 months before the event starts to secure a more affordable roof over your head. Airbnb is a great alternative to hotels.
As Pamplona is a small town, it is easy to walk everywhere. There are public bus services if you are staying outside of the town centre area.
Closest International Airport: San Sebastián Airport (EAS) in San Sebastián is the closest, although it is 100 km away from Pamplona. Pamplona Airport (PNA) is a domestic airport with links to Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) in Madrid.
Senor Ben's General Tips
1) Waterproof your belongings for the sangria splashing party on the 6th of July.
2) Secure a balcony at least 6 months in advance to have the best vantage point for watching the running of the bulls.
Tips To Survive Running Of The Bulls
1) Research the psychology and running patterns of a bull. The bulls become dangerous when they are separated. Be careful of when the bulls stop and turn around.
2) Make sure you have studied up on the race course especially Dead Man's Corner. There is a reason why they call it Dead Man's Corner. Walk the route the day before you run to familiarise yourself. To avoid the dangers of Dead Man's Corner you can simply avoid it altogether. To do this simply position yourself 10 or 20 metres in front of it.
3) You are more likely to be injured from the crowd of runners than from the bulls. Try to run a clear route, avoiding fallen runners.
4) Try to ensure you are sober for the race.
5) Go to bed early to get a good night's sleep, as you have to wake up early to guarantee a spot in the race.
6) You will be pulled from the race if you are seen with a backpack, camera or any other obstructive items.
7) Don't forget to stretch to warm up your leg muscles.
8) Your position is important in the race. If you position yourself at the front of the race, and run into the stadium before the bulls, you will be heckled by the crowd. If you position yourself at the back of the race, and are too slow, you will be blocked off from entering the stadium.