Running of the Bulls in Pamplona at San Fermín

During my time in Spain I went to one of the most famous events in Pamplona, called San Fermín. Let me tell you everything about this event.

The Festival San Fermín

San Fermín takes place from the 6th until 14th of July each year in honour of an Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra. It is mainly celebrated outside in the streets with daily parades, bullfights and fireworks.

During the day you mainly hang out in the streets, parks or plazas and enjoy yourself. You can expect lots of singing, dancing, drinking and non stop partying.

How to dress up

You dress up in white pants and shirt, together with a red scarf around your neck and red sash around your hip. Then you buy yourself a special bottle (botella de vino) where you put Sangria inside and carry it around like a bag.

Occasionally you drink from it or (if you are not so thirsty yourself) splash it onto others. That way their white clothes will ne soaked in wine and turn rosa, plus they’ll get all sticky.

PRO TIP: The correct way to wear the red sash is on the left side of your body. If you wear it on the other side, you will be identified as a tourist.

San Fermin Festival in Pamplona
Botella de vino

Running of the Bulls in Pamplona

The “Running of the Bulls“ itself is just one event of San Fermín where you are able to run with the bulls every morning at 8 o’clock for one whole week except for the opening day.

The run is less than 1km and goes through 4 streets of the city where the end leads into the arena. Usually, the runners are not the inhabitants themselves but crazy and drunk tourists.

They often put the bull by their horns or jump over them. Some of the bulls are baby bulls or bulls where the horns are not sharp, but rather look like they were cut off. That way they can’t hurt anyone even if they catch you. Obviously, they can still stamp on you though if you are on the ground.

running_with_the_bulls_san_fermin_pamplona
Running with the bulls in Pamplona

What are the requirements to join the running of the bulls?

Basically, everyone can apply to run with the bulls, if the following requirements are met:

  • No intoxicated runners (alcohol ,drugs)
  • No electronics (phone, camera etc.)
  • No high heels, flip flops or other kind of sandals

How much does it cost?

The running with the bulls is free of charge, but sitting in the arena costs money.

How to get tickets?

If you are from Pamplona, you can subscribe to get tickets way in advance. Often 90% of tickets actually go to Pamplonese subscribers.

The best way to get tickets as a tourist for a reasonable price are from so called scalpers – people who resell their ticket to you. You will find those people around the arena/Plaza de Toros most of the time. However, there are loads of scams, so be particularly careful.

Another way is to purchase tickets with a tour operator in advance, but be aware that you will be overpaying for sure. At least you get what you want without much effort.

Finally, the most difficult tickets to find are the ones for the bullfight (“rejoneo”) on the 6th (opening day).

Fun Fact

There is a nude running one day before the opening ceremony of San Fermín. You will see lots of animal rights activists who protest against animal cruelty and will be wearing bull horns, white underwear, red scarfs etc.

Inside the arena in Pamplona

My Opinion about the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona

I had mixed feelings to be honest. Of course it was fun to watch and entertaining, but we should not forget that those animals can get hurt and suffer as well.

However, for the people who don’t want to see blood, I recommend to go and watch a so called “recortadores” – an acrobatic performance where the bull is not even touched.

Has anyone of you been to Pamplona as well? What are your thoughts on it?

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