Fiesta San Fermin: the Running of the Bulls

February 22, 2013 by

Fiesta San Fermin

Fiesta San Fermin

Fiesta San Fermin, or the running of the bulls as it is more commonly known in the States, is a celebration comparable to Spring Break on steroids. The fiesta is held every year in Pamplona, Spain from July 6-14.

The celebration is in honor of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra, but in today’s festivities the religious aspect has definitely taken a back seat. Now it is just one big party with people gathering from all over the world. 

Running with the Bulls

Running with the bulls

The Running of the Bulls

The most famous aspect of the Fiesta San Fermin is the running of the bulls. This event originally started as a way to get the bulls from outside the city into the bullring inside the city. Before the run starts, the runners chant to an image of San Fermin asking for the saint’s blessing and guidance during the run. 

The running of the bulls starts with the launch of two rockets. Six fighting bulls chosen to participate in the evening bullfight start the run. The bulls charge behind runners for about 900 yards to the bullring. A couple of minutes later, a group of smaller bulls are loosed.

This happens each day from the 7th to the 14th and takes about 3-4 minutes on average, but can take longer depending on what transpires during the run. Once the bulls have entered the bullring, a third rocket is fired from the bullring, and finally a fourth rocket marks the official end of the run when all the bulls are safely corralled. 

Running with the bulls

Once the bulls have entered the bullring, a third rocket is fired.

Other Festival of Fermin Events

While the running of the bulls tends to capture the spotlight each year, the Festival of Fermin offers free events and fairs including live concerts, Basque cultural sports, and traditional Basque dancing and music. It’s a time to party, eat, drink, and dance with the locals as crowds from across the globe spill into the streets. 

Photo credits:, kozumel, hern42

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