Bull running in Pamplona
Every year from July 7th-14th thousands pack into Pamplona to start Spains most famous bull-running fiesta to honour Navarre capitals patron saint, San Fermin.
After the daybreak of July 7th, runners (mainly young men) gather at the bottom of Santo Domingo, which is the starting line. They crowd together and sing to the image of San Fermin which is placed in a niche on a wall. The song goes: “A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición” (“We ask San Fermín, as our Patron, to guide us through the Bull Run and give us his blessing.”)
Then, as a rocket goes off, a number of fighting bulls are let out onto the streets. A second rocket is then let off to make sure everyone knows the bulls are loose in the street. The bulls run along the narrow street 825 metres (half a mile) to a bull ring. The runners dash along in front of the bulls, aiming to feel the breath of the bull on their backs, getting as close as possible – all whilst trying to avoid getting gored by their sharp horns.
The supposed way to do this is to start off slowly when the bulls are quite a distance behind. Then as they get nearer start running like hell! You can then go near them for a short time, as near as you are prepared to risk it, and then quickly get out of the way. Runners look for a gap in the fence to slip through or jump over, or a space against the wall of the street.
When the bulls finally reach the end of the street, they go into pens and are kept until later that day they are killed in a bullfight.
Pamplona Bull Run Street Map
The length of the run is 826 meters (.513 miles) and goes through 4 streets
of the old part of the village (Santo Domingo, Town Hall Square, Mercaderes and Estafeta) and a section called “Telefónica” before entering into the bullring. The fastest part of the route is up Santo Domingo and across the Town Hall Square, but the bulls often became separated at the entrance to Estafeta Street as they slow down. One or more would slip going into the turn at Estafeta, but with the use of the new anti-slip surfacing, most of the bulls negotiate the turn onto Estafeta and are often ahead of the steers.
The Pamplona Running of the Bulls is a part of the San Fermin Festival, which runs in Pamplona from July 6 to July 14 each year.
The events of Pamplonas San Fermin Festival are as follows:
July 6 – The opening day is different from the other days of the festival.
12noon – the opening ceremony, known as the chupinazo.
11pm – fireworks and general partying. This continues throughout the festival!
July 7-14 – Each day of the festival is the same.
8am – the running of the bulls takes place.
6.30pm – bullfighting in the citys bullring, with the bulls that ran that morning.
11pm – more partying!