An Amazing 101 Guide to Bull Run Spain

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Bull run spain
Photo by sanfermin on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

Millions of people converge in Pamplona, Spain, each July for the boisterous Festival of San Fermin (Bull Run Spain).

People travel to this proud town in the Pyrenees’ foothills for music, fireworks, and general celebration.

However, they come primarily for the Run of the Bulls (which is on everybody’s bucket list), an event where brave (or dumb) adventurers are known as mozos.

The San Fermin Festival, which began as a Saint’s Day celebration, currently lasts nine days, from July 6 through July 14.

The bulls are let loose on the streets every morning at eight, and Spaniards all around the country watch every turn and turn on broadcast tv.

Mozos revere bulls in many ways that Spanish bullfighting enthusiasts do. The animal stands for strength, vitality, and the immense outdoors.

When he first attended the event in 1923, Ernest Hemingway recognized this as well.

Hemingway claimed to have loved seeing two wild creatures, one on two legs and the other on four, gallop side by side.

Mozos can dress however they choose during this fiesta, but often they wear white shirts and jeans with red bandanas knotted over their necks and waistlines.

The red-and-white outfit is explained by two legends: One claims it’s to honour the murdered saint San Fermin (white), while the other claims the runners are dressed like the butchers who started this practice.

The bulls, however, don’t mind because they are colourblind.

1. How Did This Tradition First Begin?

Older butchers were reportedly in charge of bringing the bulls in from the ranches, and young apprentice butchers started to follow the pastores, or bull handlers, as they led the bulls up to the bullring.

They frequently ran in front of the bulls of the San Fermin to persuade them to move forward.

With time, the event gained popularity among the general people, and the men started to rush in front of the bulls rather than follow them like the bull minder typically does.

2. How Can the Public Take Part in Bull Run, Spain?

You don’t have to register or subscribe to any lists. Anyone who is at least 18 years old and wants to participate is welcome to do so for free.

To prevent penalties or issues with the local authorities, you must adhere to a number of standards and regulations.

When it comes to any form of wrongdoing, the local police are well-known for being severe and forceful, and they are especially stringent in ensuring that no drunken or drunk runners take the course.

3. San Fermin Encierro

Bull Run Spain
Photo by San Fermin Pamplona – Navarra on Unsplash, Copyright 2022

The appeal of a Bull Run in Spain and the religious aspects of the Pamplona San Fermin Festival, which is held in honour of the city’s co-patron saint, are thought to have fused throughout time.

The famous running of the bulls in Pamplona has been taking place every summer since 1591, when the San Fermin Festival was shifted from September to July.

Since then, it has drawn rising numbers of onlookers and participants.

Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a book that romanticizes the festival of Pamplona, the bull run in Spain, draws a lot of tourists to the event.

Risks associated with the now-famous stampede include the possibility of runners being gored, crushed, or otherwise killed by enraged bulls.

Given the risks, participants always pray to Saint Fermin for protection and direction before each race.

4. The Route

The running of the bulls circuit travels through various winding streets in Pamplona’s historic district.

It begins on Santo Domingo Street’s incline and ends within the bullring arena. 875 meters are covered in total.

Despite the fact that this is a small distance, a runner cannot complete the entire route. The distance, the sheer number of runners, and, most importantly, the bulls’ incredible speed all contribute to this.

There won’t be any hazardous fighting bulls around the next corner if you happen to be in Pamplona during those days and at that specific moment.

5. The Access

The double fence along the festival streets starts to be set up in the wee hours of the morning.

Water hoses are currently being used to clear the streets of garbage and other leftovers from the wild partying the night before.

The neighbourhood police assist in removing everyone from these streets at the same time.

The only persons allowed to stay in the area between the two lines of the fence are authorized reporters and medical workers.

The festival streets have now been transformed into a reasonably small route without an exit or an entry when the final wooden gate is shut in the fence.

The only method for the runners to reach the route right now is to go to a gateway next to City Hall, which is accessible from 6.30 to 7.30 in the morning.

Additionally, spectators may begin hunting for a spot behind the fencing so they can watch the running of the bulls competition from there.

They must, however, always abide by the second fence line.

6. The Build-Up

Just before the festival starts, the participants who have chosen to run at the initial stretch on the Santo Domingo Hill recite a sermon to the statue of San Fermín, the patron saint of fiestas, which is housed in a niche in the wall.

The sermon goes as- 

We implore San Fermin to lead us in this run and to grant us his blessing in the words “A San Fermin pedimos, por ser nuestra patrón, nos gue en el encierro dándonos su bendición.

The song is also performed in Basque at sharp 8 a.m.

To signal the opening of the bullpens and the beginning of the running of the bulls, a rocket is launched.

7. How to Go About the Run?

Bull Run Spain
Photo by paco pac on Pexels, Copyright 2022

Learn everything you can about the Running of the Bulls and how to run before deciding to participate.

If you decide to participate nevertheless, pick a specific section of the course and pay attention to the suggestions of more seasoned runners.

It basically comes down to beginning out slowly and then sprinting as far as you can while the bulls are close behind.

The best runners want to position themselves as near to the horns as possible and hold that position for as long as they can.

8. What Is the Opening Ceremony, aka Chupinazo?

Every year on July 6 at noon, a rocket launch signals the beginning of the San Fermin Fiesta, causing a commotion in the square in front of the Town Hall.

At the Plaza Ayuntamiento, people swarm in like sardines all morning.

To greet the spectators, the Mayor and the Council members out onto the Town Hall’s balcony.

“Pamploneses, Pamplonas, Viva San Fermin!” (Pamplona residents, Long live San Fermin!) is the message. San Fermin, Gora! (The audience shouts “Viva!” and “Gora!” in response.)

9. The Risks of Participating in The San Fermin Festival

There are dangers in the running with the bulls. Each Running of the Bulls draws an estimated 2000 participants on average.

The bulls may gore you, crush you under their hooves, or push you down.

There are often some injuries, whether severe or minor, depending on several variables.

There are occasionally severe gorings and wounds, especially when a bull breaks away from the herd or when a pile-up occurs.

Deaths are uncommon; however, during the past thirty years, there have been a few instances.

So, the incident is not to be taken lightly. If you are a tourist and suffer any form of wound or injury while the bulls are racing, you will get prompt, professional care and, if required, access to the proper medical facilities.

But eventually, you’ll receive a bill or a claim for payment so that your health insurer can pay for everything.

10. If You Don’t Run, Be a Spectator!

There are several ways to watch the San Fermin Festival and the famous Run with The Bulls if you don’t feel like taking a chance with your life.

You can do so from inside the bullring, from one of the many balconies that line the route, or right after the Bull Run when some young heifers are let loose in the arena to be played with by both the runners and the general public.

Or, if you are in your hotel room or apartment and maybe suffering from a hangover, you could always just watch it on television. 

11. Estafeta Street

Contrary to common perception, no one really runs the whole encierro during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

Instead, each runner picks a little section of the 875-meter circuit where they will test their strength, dexterity, and luck against the six bulls who will duel later that day.

To find out more about each portion of the course, look at the Pamplona Bull Run Spain course map in its entirety.

If you are considering jogging Calle Estafeta, you will face a long, extremely tiny roadway that is slightly hilly and virtually impenetrable to runners.

Even though Calle de la Estafeta is one of the most well-known segments for bull runners, there aren’t many fences there to help you, and it’s not for the timid.

On Estafeta, some of the most horrifying gorings in recent years have occurred.

The main risk on Estafeta is that, other than a scattering of store railings and fences, it has no clear escape routes if a bull splits from the herd, which happens frequently.

It is highly advised that you walk the route in advance if this is your first Bull Run in Spain.

12. Traditional Running of The Bulls Outfit

You’d think fashion wouldn’t be a concern at the Running of the Bulls because 1 million people are all wearing the same attire. Well, that is partly true.

The San Fermin Festival aims to unite everyone for a few days each year to celebrate their fellowship as equals.

That means if you aren’t dressed in a Pamplona Running of The Bulls Outfit, you stand out like a sore thumb! All children and babies are clothed in red and white!

It’s a good idea to get your solid white clothing and red scarves before your trip since throngs of onlookers from all over the world converge on Pamplona for the San Fermin Fiesta.

Now is the perfect opportunity to get your 1591 Running of the Bulls official goods online and save some money in the process. 

13. Bullfighting in Pamplona

Throughout the eight-day event, six enormous bulls run the frantic kilometre to the Plaza de Toros, where Spain’s top bullfighters are waiting to pit them against one other in the early evening.

Bullfighting enthusiasts are familiar with the closeness and creative conflict of this age-old sport, but the red cape display frequently spellbinds first-timers.

This is a fantastic opportunity to observe the spectacular, if not contentious, cultural heritage of bullfighting if you’re in Pamplona from July 6–14.

14. History of Bullfights in Pamplona

The centrepiece of Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival is an adrenaline-fueled bullfight.

A long-standing institution in Spain is bullfighting, which requires not only exceptional physical prowess and elegance but also a certain level of professional artistry.

The bulls in Pamplona give you a chance to take part in the display of man vs beast while admiring the sturdiness and bravery of the biggest and greatest bulls in the nation.

Bullfighting was a common pastime in ancient Rome, and it has even been shown in Greek wall paintings from 2000 BC.

Bullfighting, which has its roots in gladiator fights, has developed into a type of religion on the Iberian Peninsula, and Pamplona is a part of this rich cultural heritage.

The massive Plaza de Toros (bullfighting stadium) in Pamplona was built in 1922 to accommodate the festival’s expanding attendance.

The Francisco Urcola-designed stadium can now accommodate more than 19,720 spectators, up from its original capacity of 13,000 people.

Bullfights in Pamplona were previously conducted in a temporary stadium at Plaza del Castillo. Then another temporary bull ring appeared nearby what is today known as Avenida Carlos III.

This building, which had just 900 seats, was enlarged in 1852, just in time for the Running of the Bulls.

15. The San Fermín Festival After Covid

The first San Fermin Bull-Running Celebration since the COVID-19 outbreak was celebrated with thousands of revellers filling the streets of Pamplona, Spain, with white clothing and scarlet scarves.

The red wine and sangria that are served freely during the eight-day festival made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s book “The Sun Also Rises” did not damper the mood of the sea of people packed the northern city’s Townhall Square despite a light drizzle.

In 2020 and 2021, the yearly event was postponed because of coronavirus limitations. Animal rights campaigners want it prohibited indefinitely.

16. What Are the Rules for Running with The Bulls Fiesta?

It is strictly advised not to:

  • To allow anyone who is less than 18 to participate in the race as children are not allowed to run or take part.

  • To cross any police obstacles that are put up by the government.

  • To enter the zones and parts of the route that the authorities’ representatives have specifically reserved.

  • Hide in corners, dead angles, or doors of buildings or institutions spread out throughout the course before the bulls are let loose.

  • Leave the front doors of the houses along the route open. This is the responsibility of the property’s owners or renters.

  • To access the route when inebriated, under the influence of narcotics, or in any other unsuitable condition.

  • To transport items that would prevent the Bull Run from proceeding as intended.

  • To put on inappropriate footwear or clothing for a run.

  • During the process of gathering them up in the Bullring, summon the animals or distract them in any way and for any cause.

17. Pobre De Mí – San Fermín Festival

All positive times must be brought to an end, and Pamplona’s Festival of the San Fermín concludes with the depressing words of “Pobre de Mí,” or “Poor Me,” after nine action-packed days of breathtaking bullfights, spectacular parades, and nonstop partying in Spain.

On July 14, visitors must attend this emotional departure ritual, which serves as the culmination of the Running of the Bulls celebrations.

18. San Fermín Closing Festival

At exactly midnight on July 14, Pamplona residents and San Fermin Festival attendees gather near the Town Hall to lament the end of the country’s largest and most well-known fiesta.

The mayor yells to the crowd, “Falta menos para el glorioso San Fermín (Not long for the glorious San Fermin!).”

Everyone takes off their pauelo (red neck scarf) at this point, lights a white candle, and starts singing Pobre de Mi while waving their light in the air.

The fiesta is then declared to be over with the launch of many rockets in the nearby square.

Many individuals will pay homage to Saint Fermin by leaving their red scarf and candle at the door of San Lorenzo Church.

Many pubs stay open until midnight to accommodate patrons who want to continue their Pamplona celebrations.

19. Frequently Asked Questions

It might be incredibly daunting to plan your trip to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls, especially if it’s your first time.

Although we sometimes have a long list of questions, feel free to contact us if you have any more.

19.1. When Is the Running of The Bulls?

The San Fermin Fiestas are annually held in Pamplona (Irua), in the province of Navarra, from July 6 to July 14.

Due to the running of the bulls’ custom, when runners race through the alleys of Pamplona while being pursued by real bulls, these fiestas have attracted interest from across the world.

On July 7th, the First Bull Run will take place. There will thereafter be bull runs every morning throughout the event, starting at 8 am.

All participants are required to be at least 18 years old, not provoke the bulls, run in the exact path as the bulls, and be sober.

19.2. Should I Reserve the Balcony Spaces?

In Pamplona, it’s probable that you won’t have much to no view of the Runs itself if you don’t have a balcony. At street level, there are just three places to watch: Telefonica, Plaza Consistorial, and Mercaderes.

So yes, if you can, you should reserve the balcony spaces!

There is a limited amount of room in these authorized zones, and people are known to gather at least two hours well before Run.

19.3. Will Breakfast Spread Be Available?

Agencies let you know about breakfast options when you make a balcony reservation, but this is not always possible.

Many apartment owners offer refreshments like coffee, hot chocolate, and pastries, while some do not give food or beverages during the Running of the Bulls.

A few proprietors might even provide their visitors with a complete meal! You are permitted to bring food like baguettes or churros (Spanish fried bread) to the majority of Pamplona flats.

Glass bottles, alcoholic beverages, and glasses are not permitted in order to protect participants from flying debris.

19.4. What Should My Budget Be?

Depending on the day of the week, regular hotel rooms in Pamplona, Spain, can cost anywhere from EUR 200 to EUR 2000 during the San Fermin Fiesta.

When making reservations, avoiding the 7th, 8th, and weekends might save money because there usually are fewer people there.

Apartment rooms may be equally as pricey as hotel rooms, and they don’t always offer more comfort because it’s customary for visitors to share the toilets.

Private apartments can cost more than EUR 1000 per night and often need a minimum 3- to 4-night stay.

It is significant to remember that price is heavily influenced by location and quality.

19.5. What Are the Best Days to Visit the Running of The Bulls?

The type of San Fermín you want to celebrate will determine this. You should be in Pamplona by July 5 if you want to take in the most well-known spectacle, the Txupinazo Opening Ceremonies, which take place on July 6.

It is advised to go during the week since the weekends are busy with tourists from nearby nations if your goal is to enjoy the festival as a native with fewer folks but the same fiesta.

Finally, but most importantly, if you want to take part in the Pobre de Mi, be there no later than July 13 since it takes place on July 14.

19.6. What Happens After the Bull Run Is Over?

Heifers (vaquillas) called “encierros” are let into the bullring immediately following the Bull Run Spain (Plaza de Toros). They’ll pursue every runner that entered the arena.

 Being struck by a heifer is less risky, especially since their horns are bandaged. They may, however, harm people, and one guy who was struck by one became crippled.

That was everything one needs to know about The Bull Run – Spain! We sincerely hope that you found this article useful!

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