San Fermin Festival  

The Running of the Bulls
From the noon lighting of the chupinazo, a ceremonial rocket, on July 6th until the midnight singing of the Pobre de Mí on July 14th, San Fermin is a sea of red and white. Over a million people come to see the festival, dedicated to Saint Fermin, a third century Roman in Pamplona who converted to Christianity and was martyred after being beheaded in AD 303.

Made famous by Hemingway’s account, the running of the bulls is a central attraction to the week-long celebration. Runners seek the protection of San Fermin by singing a chant three times in front of a statue in a raised niche, then line up to await the firecracker announcing the release of the bulls.

San Fermin’s protection seems selective; the six stampeding, angry bulls released into the narrow half-mile stretch of the old town chase, sometimes trample, and occasionally gore runners on their way to the bull ring. While most of the 200-300 yearly injuries are minor contusions from falling or being knocked down by charging bulls, since 1925, 15 people have been knocked all the way to the other side of the great divide.

For those who would just as soon stay on the other side of the barricades, far away from thousand-pound tanks with horns, the celebrations don’t all end up at the bull ring. There are daily parades featuring 150 year old giant heads and kilikis—caricatures of giant-headed people wielding foam truncheons and looking for children to chase. Traditional sports such as stone lifting, wood cutting, and the Jai alai tournament—a prestigious competition—round out the daily events.

After the bull fighting and the sun wear down, fireworks light up the night sky and announce the arrival of the evening’s party scene, involving a great deal of t-shirts soaked in beer and traditional music.
San Fermin Festival
Pamplona, Spain
Rating 92.96 
Rank [category] 4 
Rank [overall] 57 
"Lots of laughs, tons of sangria and some crazy bulls!"

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