Pamplona is one of the most prominent cites in the Navarra region of Spain. Aside from the being the capital of the region, the Pamplona is an interesting place to travel because of its stunning medieval center, beautiful citadel and renowned gastronomy. The city is also a major stop on the route of St. James or Camino de Santiago, and features a number of green parks. But perhaps, Pamplona is most famous for the San Fermin Festival which showcases “The Running of the Bulls.”
The festival is held every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. This period is marked by lots of music, dancing, alcohol and partying in the streets throughout the day and well into the early morning of the next day. San Fermin Festival or Sanfermines officially begins when the ceremonial rocket called chupinazo is launched to explode in the sky at noon on the 6th of July. Then, there will be a massive street party that will go on for the rest of the week. The Sanfermines celebration is composed of a couple of different events.
The highlight of the entire festival is “The Running of the Bulls” or the Encierro, which is held every morning of the festival week at 8 am. This event is so dangerous and borderline ridiculous that it sets San Fermin apart from any other festival celebrated in the world. The run involves the release of six bulls that will run through the town center behind young men called mozos, who usually wear white shirts and red scarves. The run stops at the plaza de toros, which is the bull ring in town.
Anyone is welcome to run in front of the raging bulls. And of course, the craziest and most adventurous souls were always the ones who want to test their luck. If you want to participate in the running with the bulls, you have to be at the track by at least 7:30 am. The police usually check the runners and remove those who are drunk. Running with a camera is prohibited.
The Encierro draws in thousands of spectators and even media. So the most crucial point is to find a good place to watch the spectacle. Unfortunately, it is impossible to reserve a place; so the best way to secure decent spot is to come as early as 5:30 am. For most people, the best place to see the bullfight is from a balcony of an apartment. Most of the apartment owners rent out their balcony space for the event. To get in touch with the owners, you can get their numbers from the Tourist Office of Pamplona.
The main event during the festival evenings is the bullfight. Pamplona’s bullring, which is one of the largest in the world, is divided into two sections. The first section is the Sombra (shadow) where fans and bullfight experts watch in a regular manner. The second zone is called Sol (Sun), which offers the cheaper tickets. This zone is where people do not only watch the game, but also drink, eat and dance. After the bullfight, various concerts and performances are staged in public areas like Plaza de los Fueros and Plaza del Castillo. There will also be fireworks displays near the Vuelta del Castillo to look forward to.