Local Customs

July 2014

Running of the Bulls Pamplona

06.07.14 - 14.07.14
Pamplona, Spain

The narrow cobbled streets of Pamplona's old town are the setting for one of the most exhilarating - and deadly - festival events in the world.

The encierro - or Running of the Bulls - is the most famous event in the Fiesta of San Fermin, held each July in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona. It began in the mid-1800s, when runners would herd bulls from corrals on the edge of town to the bullring for the afternoon's corrida.

Today, anyone is allowed to join in this highly dangerous event, in which 14 people have been killed since 1924 and 200-300 are injured every year. Most people prefer the excitement of watching from the sidelines.

The running takes place at 8am on eight consecutive mornings, taking an average of four minutes over a distance of 848 metres (half a mile). Spectators are protected by double barriers along the route (double so that runners can jump over the first fence if necessary).

To get a good view of the Pamplona Bull Run at street level, you need to stake out a place by the outer barrier at least 90 minutes before the start; otherwise, locals rent out their balconies (20-30 euros a day). Within the bullring, the open terrace is free except at weekends, when it's 5 euros; a tier or upper tier costs 4 euros (5 at weekends). Firecrackers are set off when the bulls are freed into the streets and once they have been led into their pens in the bullring.

The Fiesta, or Sanfermines, which dates back to medieval times, opens with music and fireworks at noon on 6 July and closes at midnight on 14 July with a candlelit rendition of Pobre de Mí ('Poor Me'). In-between are a variety of traditional events honouring St Fermin, a funfair, and general revelry involving lots of sangria - at night the town becomes one big party. The first day is widely considered the best: an effigy of the saint is carried through the streets, accompanied by grand puppets, dancers and street entertainers.

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