Running the Bulls Pamplona | Festival of San Fermin

The Running of the Bulls Running of the Bulls Pamplona

The 'Running of the Bulls' is a practice that involves ordinary people running in front of bulls that have been released on a set course through the town's streets which have been cordoned off. The most famous of these is held in Pamplona [Navarre], northern Spain at the festival of San Fermìn between the 6th and 14th of July.  Others fiestas are held in the towns and villages throughout Spain and indeed, in southern France, in places such as Bayonne. In this first picture you can observe the bulls from the safety of being behind a strong metal fence. The second photo, however, shows a couple of men who have taken no such safety precautions. The fellow on the ground is certainly taking his life in his hands and is hoping that the bull cannot see him. It is a picture of which we can easily ask the question, 'What happened next?'

The Chupinazo

A single rocket at precisely 12 noon signals the 'Chupinazo' or opening ceremony.  The rocket is a signal for people to break open the champagne, and to don their red scarves.  Although the partying starts on the 6th of July, no bulls run on this first day of the fiesta.

The Bull Run

The Pamplona bull run takes place each morning from 7th to 14th July. The runners dressed in white with a red handkerchief around their necks assemble at 7.30am.  For the bull run, the streets are walled off so that the bulls can't escape into the town. At 8 o'clock the first rocket signals the opening of the Santo Doming corral and the six fighting bulls are free to chase the runners.  The Pamplona bull run is about 800 metres, while El-Guerrouj could cover the course in under two minutes, most runners take about three minutes from start to finish. Pamplona Bull Run Map 1. Santo Doming corral  2. Cuesta de Santa Domingo  3. Plaza del Ayuntamiento  4. Curva de Mercaderes hacia Estafeta  5. Calle Estafeta 6. Curva de Telefónica  7. Callejón  8. Plaza de Toros The Pamplona bull run is punctuated by four rockets:
  • The first rocket means that the gates at the corral are open and that the bulls are free to run.
  • The second rocket means that all the bulls have left the pen.
  • The third rocket means that the bulls are in the Plaza de Toros (8) - it does not mean that it is safe.
  • The fourth rocket means that all the bulls are safely back in their pens.  The runners can relax at last.

Lummee - Trying to take a good picture may have been a mistake

Pamplona bull run

The Safe Way To Run With The Bulls

As we have explained earlier on this page, every July thousands of tourists descend on Pamplona in northern Spain for the annual San Fermin festival made famous by bullfighting aficionado and author, Ernest Hemingway in his novel "The Sun Also Rises". Many people, some fuelled by alcohol, traditionally dress in white and don red neckerchiefs before running through the narrow streets of the old town chased by a herd of bulls.  Since record-keeping began in 1924, at least 14 people have been killed during the runs and dozens are hospitalised each year. Now, however, Will and Guy have discovered that new software developed by Navarra firm Proevent now enables those too fearful of bulls with their razor sharp horns to experience the thrill of running along the one mile course without risking their lives. Wearing a headset hooked up to a special treadmill, the player can "join" computer generated runners flanked by dozens of spectators on a virtual version of the famous bull run. Digital three dimensional images from the streets teamed with surround sound serve to replicate the event.  The prototype technology has been set up in a square in Pamplona and is proving popular with those practicing for the run as well as those who consider themselves too old, too unfit or too sensible to attempt the real thing. Sounds like me, says Will.

History of Running the Bulls at Pamplona

The history of this Pamplona bullfighting fiesta can be traced back at least to the 14th century where it started as the religious festival of San Fermin. However originally the bull run was held in October and only lasted one or two days.  In the 18th century people started travelling from afar to see the bull run and join in the festivities. In the 19th century the fiesta was moved to 6th of July when the weather was better.  Perhaps it was Ernest Hemingway through his novel 'The Sun Also Rises' that created the intrigue, and the reason whey people now come from over the world for the Pamplona running of the bulls. Over the years at least 10 people have lost their lives by being gored in the actual bull run, and hundreds have been seriously injured.  The running of the bulls at Pamplona is an interesting battle between on the one hand the historical and the commercial interests, and on the other hand, the health and safety brigade.  As the years go by it's fascinating to see which side will gain the upper hand.

Calendar of special day events, days of celebration:

• Special day today • Memorial Day   • Grand National   • Trafalgar Day   • Labor Day • Midsummer's Day   • Festival days   • Father's day   • Lady Day   • Earth Day   • Remembrance Day • 4th of July   • Pamplona Bulls   • Blackberry day   • Tomatina Spain   • Friday 13th superstitions