The San Fermín Festival takes place in Pamplona, Spain every year. You may have never heard of the actual festival but it’s internationally recognized for the famous Running of the Bulls. It has been a dream of mine to participate in the festivities and I finally got to turn that dream into reality!
The opening ceremony, or “Chupinazo,” of the first day of the festival takes place in Plaza Consistorial outside of City Hall. Thousands of people pack themselves into every crevice of the Spanish city to celebrate the commencement of the festival.
Traditionally, you should expect to dress in all white and bring a red handkerchief, or “Pañuelo,” to tie around your neck at the sound of a firecracker at noon.
While the festival officially begins on the first day at noon, the party begins well before that. You go out first thing in the morning (or continue on from last night’s party) dressed from head to toe in white.
Expect to be covered in water, sangria, mustard, soda, eggs… you name it!
I was above the chaos on a balcony during the ceremony with people below shouting for me to pour water/sangria down onto them. Ask and you shall receive!
After the sounding of the firecracker at noon, everyone absolutely loses it and goes bananas in celebration! The madness doesn’t subside for hours either. The streets remain full of people drinking and partying ALL day. So, to stick with “tradition,” I divulged in a classy box of red wine and took to the streets.
Later in the evening, I went to the first bullfight of the festival. I won’t go into too much detail about the whole experience but it was a different style bullfight where the men actually fought the bulls on horseback. The horses were stunning and SO well trained. They would dance around the bull fearlessly and with incredible grace and agility. I am glad I went but I know that I’ll never go again.
More on that in another post.
Each night at 11pm, during the San Fermin festival, there are firework displays that shame any show I have ever seen. The entire sky is lit up (for almost 30 minutes) with colorful sparks of fire above the ancient Citadel of Pamplona. The party continues on through the night with high anticipation for the Running of the Bulls the next morning.