Every year, from July 6 through July 14, a festival is held in Pamplona, Spain, to commemorate San Fermín. Marked by daily bullfights, it was made famous by Ernest Hemingway, who wrote about it in The Sun Also Rises.

In order to get the bulls into the bullfighting arena, they are run from outside the city, through narrow streets, to the arena. Brave and/or stupid celebrants race ahead of the bulls through the streets, usually avoiding injury or death.

There's also lots of partying, and champagne, and a bunch of people wearing white, with red scarves.

I haven't been yet, but hopefully 2001 will be my lucky year.

The Fiestas de San Fermín, (or Sanfermines) is a traditional festival in Pamplona-Spain, 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 the fall.

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 streets.

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.

Information from:
http://www.pamplona.net/engl/index.html - Pamplona's Town Council

You may believe that I have never run so fast in my life as the moment I saw the bull. I ran on the first day of the festival, 2001. The most intriguing thing was the young Spaniard who stood calm in the throng before the bulls were released, idly flicking through the local rag. On page three today, six furious animals would be released in the street where he stood.

Aside from the blind stupidity of the run itself, there's the festival to contend with. 200,000 people, drunk for a week, wearing identical clothes (all white, red neck tie, in honour of Saint Fermin himself who was martyred with a knife).

All in all, highly inadvisable. Kids, just say no!

I would also like to point out that no animals were harmed in the writing of this node. I can't say the same for the runners.

The last person to be killed on the run was an animal rights activists who jumped in front of the animals, screaming 'No stop! It's all too cruel!

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