The Fiestas de San Fermín, (or Sanfermines
) is a traditional
festival in Pamplona
, most famous for the dangerous bull run
through the streets. The festival is held annually, from
July 6 until July 14.
The earliest descriptions of the Sanfermines date back to the 13th
century, but the modern festival has evolved from a conjunction of three
separate fiestas: the religious commemoration of Pamplona's
first bishop San Fermín, the commercial fiesta, and the taurine
festivals. The festival was originally held on October 10, but in 1591
the Sanfermines moved to July 7 because of the unpredictable weather in
Over time the festival grew in popularity and duration, but it has
kept its threefold character; religious celebrations were mixed with
music, dance, fireworks, circus acts, bull runs, and bullfighting. The local clergy wasn't
always too excited about the public abuse of alcohol and the
permissiveness of young people. As far back as the 17th century, the
festival drew great attraction from all abroad.
The popularity of the Sanfermines reached its peak in the 20th
century, due to Ernest Hemingway's description of the festival in his
novel The Sun Also Rises ("Fiesta", 1926). Between 1923 and
1959, Hemingway made a total of nine visits to Pamplona, and immersed
himself in the fiesta life completely. Hemingway also witnessed the
first documented fatality of the running of the bulls, in 1924.
Nowadays, the Sanfermines is celebrated by hundred thousands of
visitors who join in with all the festivities, but most of all come to see
the encierros: the running of the bulls.
The bull run is held every morning between July 7th and July
14th. The bulls are released from their corrals, and run
through several streets towards the bull ring, where they will be
fought later that day. Nowadays, the streets are walled off, but back
in the 19th century, the bulls would often escape into the city's
The runners line up in the street at 7:30. A few minutes before the
start, the young local runners chant a praise to San Fermín, to
guide them safely through the bull run. At 8:00 a rocket is launched,
indicating the release of the bulls. Six bulls are released on the 825
meter stretch towards the bull ring. A second rocket indicates that all
the bulls have left. The runners try to keep ahead of the bulls, or jump
the barricades in time. However, because of the large number of
participants and spectators, runners sometimes
fall or can't get away in time. If all goes well, one run lasts
approximately 3 minutes. The end of the running is marked by two more
rockets; one is launched when the bulls enter the taurine enclosure, and
another one when the bulls are safely in their bull pens.
Between 1924 and 1997, 14 people have died and the number of injured
people is well over 200.
http://www.pamplona.net/engl/index.html - Pamplona's Town Council