San Fermín Festival, Pamplona 2016

As summer and winter gears up in their hemispheres, wise globe trotters seek to take full advantage of the weather in July. Individuals whose New Year resolution have been to live their life a less ordinary, San Fermin festival in Pamplona will offer them ample opportunities. Running with the bulls is one event during the fest that is worth doing once in your life. If you wish to run right in front of the horny friends like some do, you will surely experience adrenaline rush, but also it is a good way to get trampled. Note, in case you fall down during the run, choose to stay down. Allow the bulls trample over, till someone notices and picks you up. Well, getting trampled is less dangerous than actually getting yourself gored to death by the charging bulls.

If you don’t want to get little bumped, watch the Running of the Bulls that is how the event is named, from a balcony for rent. While San Fermin festival is not only about getting knocked down by the bulls at the Dead Man’s Corner (carefully chosen name, indeed), Chupinazo, Riau-Riau, Struendo, Pobre de Mi, Saint Fermin procession and fireworks will heal your slightly beaten up body after the race.

San Fermin Festival - Running of the Bulls
People are running in street during San Fermin festival

History of The San Fermín Festival

The San Fermin festival, held in Pamplona, Spain calls for the celebration of life, shared history, family and religion. The fiestas are celebrated every year continuing from 6th to 14th July in the region of Navarra. Although, the festival is celebrated in the honor of San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra, the religious aspect has taken up a secondary role in the last few years. These days, the fiestas are seen as the gathering of people hailing from different parts of the world to party and have fun.

The celebration of the fiestas dates back to two different events of the medieval period. This includes commercial secular fairs held during summer, wherein cattle merchants came to the city with their animals for bullfighting. This was specifically documented in the 14th century. And on the other hand are the religious ceremonies that were held on every October 10th to honor the saint. Well, it is in 1591 that these two events were culminated and transferred to 7th July. This marks the commencement of the San Fermines.

Bulls and people are running in street during San Fermin festival
Bulls and people are running in street during San Fermin festival

Single Day Events in the Town

Chupinazo: This is the opening of the festival marked by setting off a rocket (pyrotechnic chupinazo) at 12.00 noon on 6th of July from the city hall balcony. Since 1941, this tradition is being carried out to officially mark the beginning of the celebration.


It a mass activity taking place on the same day (6th July). In here, the council members of the city parade from the City Hall to the chapel, which is dedicated to Saint Fermin. You can expect a spectacular view while the participants dance to the Astrain Waltz. This ritual was introduced by Ignacio Baleztena Ascarate in 1911.

Saint Fermin Procession:

Held on 7th July, the procession of thousands of people accompanying 15th century Saint Fermin’s statue hits the key day of the festival. The statue is usually accompanied by street entertainers and political as well as religious authorities, which includes the city mayor. You can witness Jota (a traditional dance performed for the saint) and the gigantes dance and twirl when Maria, the cathedral bell, rings.


If you are all set to go haywire and shout until your heart is out, participate in this 50 years old event. People gather at the Town Hall at around 11.59 pm to make as much of noise possible for hours. They beat drums (of course, not beating their own drums), whistles and bowls to celebrate.

Pobre de mi:

It is a mournful note, meaning ‘Poor Me’ that is sung in the City Hall Plaza on 14th July at midnight after nine days of fun and partying. It is a kind of ritual done to mark the closing of the festival and hence ‘Poor Me’ is the note.

Pamplona Navarra Spain - S Firmino fiesta band playing drums in front of the famous coffee IRUNA frequented by Hemingway Spanish school of samba fortaleza
Pamplona Navarra Spain – Firmino fiesta band playing drums in front of the famous coffee IRUNA frequented by Hemingway Spanish school of samba fortaleza

Daily Events during theSan FermínFestival

Running of the Bulls:

It has become an internationally acclaimed event and a subject to many documentaries and movies, where the bulls run through the old quarter’s street. The Encierro (the Running of the Bulls) takes place every day during the event (7th to 14th July) at the corral in the Calle Santo Domingo. As the clock strikes 8 in the morning, the bulls charge behind the participants (runners) for 825 meters.

Even though the run usually lasts somewhere around three to four minutes, the time is sufficient for you to seek EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment). However, don’t tease these horny friends as they can actually change their directions and run after you. And the rest would be history! Be excited, but not so much that you compel the bull(s) take things personally and put up a fight with you.

Apart from being right on the field and getting almost to the death bed, you can choose to enjoy the spectacle from above (from a balcony, of course). But, for that you might have to pay 75 Euros or so, which is worth spending. Fast, furious and dangerous; this is one event in the world, which you shouldn’t miss as it is likely to be outlawed in the future.

Traditional Sports:

Be a sporty and become a part of the exhibition and competition of the Basque rural sports occurring in the Plaza de los Fueros every morning. Sports include, wood cutting, hay bale lifting and wood cutting.

Bullfight or Fireworks or Both: Your Choice Of Course:

Between July 6th and 14th, every afternoon a bullfight takes place, wherein six bulls that are driven to the bullring at the time of bull running are killed. While this might not be a treat to the eyes, fireworks held every night at the Citadel Park is a sight to die for.

Opening of San Fermin festival
Opening of San Fermin festival

How to Get There?

Pamplona has an airport connected to several cities, including Madrid and Barcelona. Close by, there are international airports like Bilbao or Zaragoza. There are direct flights from Madrid to Pamplona with Iberia airlines,  so the most recommended way is to fly internationally into Madrid Barajas airport, and from there change flights directly to Pamplona.  Otherwise you can also take the bus or the Renfe train from Atocha station into Pamplona, which takes approximately 3 hours.  Also, you can get to the town by train, bus or car from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian, etc.