San Fermín Festival in Pamplona

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San Fermín is Pamplona’s local festivity. The city of Pamplona is located in Navarra, in the North of Spain and it it has become famous around the world thanks to the San Fermín festival. San Fermín is celebrated every year from the 6th of July to the 14th of July. In 1980, the San Fermín festival was declared “International Tourist Interest”. Every year, visitors come to Pamplona from far away, from Germany to the US, in order to celebrate one of Spain’s most famous traditional festival!

san fermin festival

The origins of San Fermín

San Fermín origins are found back in the Middle-Ages. In July, locals used to celebrate three major events: the religious acts related to San Fermín (Pamplona’s saint patron), the old cattle’s fairs and the traditional bullfights.

Actually, San Fermín (the holly saint) was born in September 1381, but in 1591, the Pamplonenses, the locals from Pamplona, decided to change the festivity and celebrate it in July to get better weather during the street celebrations.

San Fermín became famous in the 20th century and it is now one of the most universal Spanish festivities thanks, among others, to ‘Fiesta’, an Ernest Hemingway novel, where the author immortalised the risk and the excitement of the popular running of the bulls, called encierros in Spanish.

san fermin festival

Hemingway in San Fermin. Image source: sanfermin.com

How do Spanish celebrate San Fermín nowadays?

San Fermín starts on the 6th of July at midday when the ‘chupinazo” is launched.

san fermin festival

El chupinazo. Image source: lamanyana.es

The first running of the bulls is held at 8am on the 7th of July. The doors of the Santo Domingo corral are opened and hundreds of people run 825 meters in front of the bulls to the bullring in three minutes. Four rockets are launched to indicate the different parts of the race. The first one indicates the opening of the corral gates. The second means that all the bulls are out. The third one marks the entrance of the bulls into the ring and the last one means that the race is over.

san fermin festival

Encierro San Fermin Image source: sanfermines.net

This bull race is repeated every day until the 14th of July, when the San Fermín festival end.  At midnight, locals and visitors gathered on the Town Hall Square hold candles while they sing the song “Pobre de mí” to say goodbye and to also sing they are already looking forward to the next San Fermines festival.

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San Fermín is a local traditional festival known around the world and there are hundreds of options to enjoy this festivity in your own way.

You can have fun in the ‘chupinazo’ or participate at the the bulls races, you can also watch the bullfights. There are also the San Fermín procession on the 7th, the ‘Riau-Riau’, a song sung by the people gathered in the main square and the morning reveilles by la Pamplonesa. Enjoy the fireworks, the traditional big heads’ parades and of course, the ‘peñas’ ambiance and the never ending party on the streets which are the main ingredients to this festival. But what it’s really important is that you dress in white and read only: this is what makes San Fermín a unique fiesta.

Curiosities

-There are 204 hours of party non-stop.

-Every day a parade of giants and big heads walk around and everybody loves them. There is an app to know where they are in each moment during the parade.

-A few minutes before the start of the running of the bulls, the runners sing three times to San Fermín in front of a small statue on Cuesta de Santo Domingo Street.

We hope to see you in Pamplona this year. Please, check this great video below to get a taste of what this festival is all about! GRACIAS :)

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