The Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, is often described as a nine-day party of “controlled chaos“. From the 6th of July to the 14th of July the Festival of San Fermin is a constant celebration with lots of good food and plenty of drinking. As one might imagine there is a noticeable amount of drunkenness. However, for the amount of people and the amount of heavy drinking that goes on, San Fermin is remarkably safe and peaceful.
The Pamplona Bull Run is one of the most chaotic, insane experiences anyone could possibly have.
The Bull RunThe Pamplona bull run takes place at 8am every morning from 7th to 14th July. Runners must be in the running area by 7.30am. The actual run stretches from the corral at Santo Domingo where the bulls are kept, to the bullring where they will fight that same afternoon. The length of the run is 825 metres and the average time of the run from start to finish is about three minutes. The streets through the old town which make up the bull run are walled off so the bulls can't escape. Each day six fighting bulls run the route as well as two herds of bullocks.
The tension builds as the release of the bulls approaches and at 8am on the dot a rocket is fired to confirm that the gate has been opened at the Santo Domingo corral. Runners dressed in white with a red hankerchief around their necks pray to San Fermin then a second rocket announces that the bulls have left. The bulls and the runners then proceed along the route.
The daily Bull Run forms an important part of the festivities, but San Fermin festival is actually a week long party where the people of Pamplona pay tribute to their religious patron Saint, San Fermin, through prayer, fireworks, bull fights and lots and lots of partying.
Celebrated every year from 6-14 July, for over five hundred years, ever since the 14th Century, San Fermin forms an important part of the culture of Pamplona and is one of Spain’s longest running festivals.
The Bull Run itself was not part of the original religious festival. Locals and tradition says that it was added because San Fermin met his death at the hands of angry bulls who mauled and dragged him through the streets of the old town. But regardless of why it was added to the religous tradition, the Bull Run is now a vital part of the San Fermin Festival and has developed over the years to become a world famous event.
The Pamplona Bull Run is one of the most dangerous public festivals in the world. In order to ensure that the Run goes off successfully and to avoid danger the Pamplona Town Council advises that the spectators and runners bear in mind certain minimal rules which guarantee the normal running of the Bull Run.
For this reason it is expressly forbidden:
- To admit anyone under the age of 18 into the course as minors are totally prohibited from running or participating.
- To go over the police barriers which the authorities see fit to erect.
- To place oneself in the zones and areas of the itinerary which are expressly indicated by the agents of the authorities.
- To hide oneself before the release of the bulls in corners, dead angles or doorways of houses or establishments located throughout the length of the course.
- To leave open the doors of the houses along the course, the owners or tenants of the said property being responsible for this.
- To enter into the route in a state of drunkenness, under the effects of drugs or in any inappropriate state.
- To carry objects which may impede the correct running of the Bull Run.
- To wear clothes or shoes which are not appropriate for the run.
- Call the animals or distract them in any way and for whatever reason in the course or during the rounding up in the Bull Ring.
- To stop in the Bull Run or station oneself on the walls or barriers or in the doorways in such a way as to impede the run or the defence of the runners.
- To grab onto, harass or mistreat the animals or obstruct their exit enclosure by any action during the amateur bullfight.
- To take photographs from the streets, walls or barriers without due authorisation.
- Any other action which may impede the normal running of the Bull Run.
The nearest international airport is Bilbao, though there are no connecting flights from there. Iberia connects Pamplona with Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona. Long-distance buses connect Pamplona with Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona. Three trains a day can be taken from Madrid to Pamplona and another three from Barcelona.