San Fermin, Pamplona Bull Run

From the 6th to 14th July every year thousands of people flock to the town of Pamplona for the San Fermín festival, or the Running of The Bulls as it’s more commonly known outside Spain. During the festival the whole town dresses from head to toe in white atire, with red handkerchiefs around their necks, and red sashes around their waist.

Jon and I arrived in Pamplona at 3pm and promptly changed into our white and red San Fermin uniform before walking into the old town to see what all the fuss was about. The streets and bars were packed to overflowing and as a Brazilian drumbing band made their way through the crowded streets, people were swinging their hips and clapping their hands to the irrisistable rhythm.

Looking around we quickly realised that our chances of getting a good viewing position for the bull run the following morning was going to be pretty slim. So when we returned to our hotel later that evening I did a little research on hiring a balcony along the bull run route. There were websites selling balcony positions for 100 – 170€ per person! Unbelievable! I managed to find a classifieds type website where private owners were renting their balcony’s for much less. We found one for 20€ each including breakfast. Probably the easiest way to find a balcony is by walking along the streets of the route and looking out for private advertisements like the one pictured.

In the evenings at 11pm there is a very decent fireworks show in the old city that is well worth seeing. From this point onwards things get a bit messy in Pamplona. Thousands of partygoers continue drinking right through to 8am  the next morning when the bull run starts. And this is what makes the bull run so dangerous, many of the runners are actually smashed off their heads. The Police apparently try to pull out the drunk ones but they obviously don’t get them all.

In the morning as we walked through the old town to get to our balcony, the streets were full of drinkers and the pavers were sticky under our feet, yuk! We were let up to our balcony with a handful of other people and made ourselves comfortable. The bull run started right on 8am which we watched on a TV screen until the bulls and runners raced past our balcony 60 seconds later. After a rush of excitement it was all over in a few seconds. The crowd then quickly dissipated (to go home and get some sleep) and just as quickly teams of street cleaners sprung up from everywhere sweeping and washing down the streets, getting the town ready to do it all over again.

In summery San Fermin is a once in a lifetime experience I think (unless you are into drinking copious amounts of alcohol, in which case you would probably enjoy doing this more than once). For me it was a blast and one more item to tick off The Bucket List.

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