San Fermin, also known as Sanfermines in the local language, is arguably the most famous festival of Spain. Known around the world as the ‘running of the bulls’ festival, the fiesta is held every year in the city of Pamplona in Navarre from 7th to 14th July. More than a million people including locals and tourists flock to Pamplona to be part of this renowned Spanish fiesta.
The fiesta, held in the honour of Saint Fermin, a patron saint of Navarre, is being hosted in Pamplona since the 14th century. However, the popularity of the fiesta in recent years among international tourists is attributed to Ernest Hemingway who used the running of the bull festival of Pamplona as the setting of this famous novel “The Sun Also Rises”.
San Fermin Fiesta Attractions
Running of the bulls
The San Fermin fiesta starts at midday on 6th July, after the loud bang of the first firework is sounded from the balcony of the city hall square.
However, you have to wait until the next day to witness the running of the bulls, the key part of the festival. On 7th July, early in the morning, thousands of people dressed in red and white gather in the old town from where the race starts. Firecrackers are lighted to signal the different stages of the races. The first rocket is launched to announce the opening of the gates of the Santo Domingo corral, where the bulls are housed. Bursting of the second cracker signals that the bulls have come out of the corral gates. A third rocket is launched after the bulls enter the bullring, and the fourth cracker marks the end of the race after the bulls enter the bullpen. The race lasts for about three minutes. The bulls chase the runners through the narrow streets of the old town to the bullring of Pamplona. The running of the bull takes place everyday at 8 am up to 14th of July, the last day of the San Fermin festival.
The six bulls that enter the bullring following their release from the corral during the race, participate in bullfights held later in the day. The bullfight starts at 6.30 am. Apart from the traditional bullfights, bullfights with novice bullfighters and bullfighters on horses are held during the fiesta.
The colorful procession held in the morning with the statue of San Fermin is a popular attraction of the festival. The parade with giant figures representing kings and queens and people in large human-like masks enhance the attraction of the procession of San Fermin.
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