San Fermin or Sanfermines is one of the most famous Spanish festivals worldwide, and it is even considered one of the best celebrations in the world, as they are a mixture of carnival, street party, good atmosphere and bulls. The festivities begin with the launch of chupinazo (rocket) from the balcony of the City Hall of Pamplona, at 12 noon on July 6th and they end on July 14th at 24 pm with the Pobre de mí, a song of farewell.
The most popular activity of the San Fermin festival is the running of the bulls (el encierro) , a race of 849 meters in front of the bulls, with a duration of two to three minutes, culminating in the bullring. The encierro take place every day between 7th and 14th July and it starts at eight o’clock.
The origin of the San Fermin is medieval, dating back to the confluence of three events: the religious celebrations in honor of San Fermin (prior to the twelfth century), the livestock fairs and bullfights, both documented since the fifteenth century. Contrary to popular belief, San Fermin is not the patron saint of Pamplona, but all Navarra. The patron of the city is San Saturnino or San Cernín, whose feast occurs on 29th November.
The American writer Ernest Hemingway was one of those who contributed to spreading this festival, thanks to his novel Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises, 1926) and its film version.
On TouristEye, we have prepared a San Fermin festival guide for iPhone and Android, so you can take it on your mobile and see the attractions and placesyou cannot miss during this festiva. In the next shot, there are two routes: The places where the procession will pass are marked in blue are the red corresponds to the running of the bulls.
1. At the City Hall, located in the Plaza Consistorial, three of the most important festivals take place, the Chupinazo, an act that marks the beginning of the festival of San Fermin, part of the running of the bulls and the Pobre de mí.
2. The Plaza del Castillo is a square in the center of the city and it will take place the night parties.
3. The Cathedral of Pamplona is the most complete cathedral complex preserved in Spain and one of the most important stops of the procession.
4. We could not miss the bullring of Pamplona, where the running of the bulls finish and which also celebrates the Feria del Toro, with different runs involving great bullfighters, making it almost impossible to buy tickets. The 90% of the capacity is reserved for subscribers who renew their passes every year.
5. The Ciudadela is a fortress with a former military use, built between the 16 th and 17th centuries that remains today as a garden and a venue for cultural activities. During the San Fermin festival, it is the place from which the fireworks are launched every day at 11:00 pm.
6. Los Corrales del Gas is the place where the bulls rest coming from other parts of Spain for this party. You can observe the fine appearance of the bulls hired to San Fermin and from here, takes part the encierrillo, this is the transfer of the six fighting bulls the night before the bull run from the corrales del gas on the other side of the river Arga up to the corral in the Cuesta de Santo Domingo, where the bull run starts from.
7. The Antoniutti park also will be a great festival entertained by different orchestras.
8. The Monument to the encierro is a cast bronze sculpture that stands elegantly on Avenue Roncesvalles, Pamplona, looking towards the Plaza de Toros in Pamplona. It is made to praise the legendary bulls at Pamplona, representing the time in which runners can feel the breath of animals behind.
Moments of the Festival
The 6th of July, at 4:30 pm, the Riau-Riau takes place, a traditional event which accompanies the municipal corporation from City Hall to the chapel of San Fermin, while the walking crowd sing the “Riau Riau”.
In addition to the Chupinazo, the encierrillo and the running of the bulls, there are other important moments in the festival of San Fermin, as the procession, held the morning of the 7th of July, during which thousands of people dressed in white, accompany the image of the Saint touring the Old Town.
Every day, takes place the parade of giants and big heads, along with kilikis, which attract many families with children.
Eat, drink and sleep
It is advisable to book hotels in Pamplona before coming to San Fermin, or you will end up sleeping in city parks. It is difficult to find cash at ATMs in the center of the city during these days.
You will have no problem at lunchtime, as the Old Town has a large number of bars and shops, even the restaurants extend their hours to the public, especially during the weekend. The most traditional is to drink in the street “catxis of kalimotxo”, ie, red wine mixed with cola in a big plastic cup and in the morning, it is typical to go to the Mañueta, an establishment of the nineteenth century, that only opens 14 days a year and whose traditional churros are unique in the world.
Getting to Pamplona
Car: Pamplona is connected to a network of roads that start from the city towards Huesca, Zaragoza, Logroño, San Sebastian and Irun.
Rail: The railway passenger station is in the neighborhood of San Jorge, not far from the city center and it has regular routes to Alicante, Alsasua, Barcelona, Burgos, Coruna, Irun, Hendaye, León, Lugo, Madrid , Ourense, Oviedo, Palencia, San Sebastian, Valencia, Vigo, Vitoria and Zaragoza.
Bus: Pamplona has daily connections with Alicante, Andalusia, Barcelona, Bilbao, Salou, Peniscola, Gijon, Oviedo, Irun, Jaca, Jaén, Logroño, Madrid, San Sebastian, Santander, Soria, Vigo, Vitoria, and Zaragoza.
Air: The airport is located in Noáin, about seven kilometers from Pamplona, but is well connected by road to the capital, you can book flights to Pamplona to get the most convenient and fast transport to Pamplona.
Tips for the running of the bulls
If you have decided to go the San Fermin festival, and you’re sure to run the bulls, it is important that you consider certain measures to protect your own safety and that of those at your side. First you must have excellent fitness and great reflexes, and know the prohibitions as not to run under influence of drugs and alcohol, carrying objects drawbacks, take inappropriate clothes or shoes, draw the attention of the bull and run after of them, standing in the path, and in short, any other action that may hinder the normal development of the encierro.
For more information on how to run the bulls, please consult the official web: www.sanferminencierro.com (In Spanish)