The festival of San Fermin also knows as “the running of the bulls” is an annual tradition taking place in the city of Pamplona in which cattles are released from Monferino’s Cathedral to run through old town streets and toward a stadium where they will be confined. It commemorates Saint Fermin, who was martyred for his Catholicism during Spain’s Christianity conversion period. His story became famous as he was sentenced to be tied to a bull and dragged till deathin the city’s streets.
This is the roots of San Fermin festival and why this event is known all over the world for bullfighting.
6th of July: Pre celebrations
The festival of San Fermin starts on the 6th of July with what is called the “Chupinazo”.
At noon everyone gathers in front of the city hall where the mayor gives a speech to start the festival. I recommend trying the local sangria as it is part of the celebrations.
7th of July: The Running of the Bulls
This is the big day
Early in the morning, around 8 a.m., the first bull run will start.
The concept is pretty straight forward:
- Six bulls are released from their pen and they run through the old city streets to the bullring.
- The route is 925 meters long and it is lined with people cheering and dodging the bulls.
- Please note that this is a very dangerous event. Indeed, there are accidents and sometimes deaths every year.
How to know when the bulls are released?
Organisers will shoot a first rocket to notify the runners that the bulls have been released. Then, a second rocket will be released so people to let people know that all the six bulls are now on the street.
8th of July: The Bullfights
The bullfights take place in the afternoon on the 8th of July. This is the most controversial part of the festival as animal rights activists do not approve of this event.
I am not going to go into too much detail here, but if you are interested in this event, I recommend that you read about it before coming to Pamplona.
9th of July: The Fireworks
The 9th of July is the day of the “encierro”, which is another bull run. This one is shorter than the one on the 7th of July and it takes place in the evening.
After the run, there is a beautiful firework display in front of Pamplona’s city hall.
10th of July: The Procession
The 10th of July often is more chill and calm.
The main day’s activity is a religious procession in honor of Saint Fermin. The entire city participates in this event and it is amazing to observe. I strongly recommend to attend.
11th up to the 14th of July: more activities and “Encierro de toros”
These days are very similar to the previous ones with a few more bull runs. Varios activities and locals shows are also available for tourists to enjoy.
The atmosphere is still festive and people are enjoying the last days of the festival.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the festival of San Fermin. If you are thinking of coming to Pamplona for this event, I recommend that you do some research beforehand and be aware of the risks involved. Have a great time!