Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Running with the Bulls in Pamplona

The famous , colourful, historic and often dangerous San Fermines fiestas get under way on the 6th July and finish at Midnight on the 14th. More than 100 Spanish communities celebrate their local patron saint, yet Pamplona’s San Fermin gets all the attention, why, because it was made famous by Ernest Hemmingway in The Sun Also Rises written in 1925

The feast comes alive with the Txupinzao , ( which includes the firing of the rockets, opening of bottles of champagne and cascades of red and white streamers fill the air. Over 1,500.000 visitors flood the area to live this unique festival , the normal population is around 200.000 so you can imagine the atmosphere that is generated in the town.

As you can imagine many locals move out during the festival to make was for thee masses and retreat to more tranquill climes for the duration. The ones that stay however shed their traditionally conservative values becoming free and spontaneous. The festival brings a spirit of happiness rather like Christmas day does for the children.

July 7 the saint’s relics are part of an emotional procession from the Iglesia de San Lorenzo to the Cathedral de Santa Maria for a solemn high Mass. Of the nine days of los Fermines, this is the only religious note. This procession attracts more and more followers each year.

The main event for most of the pilgrims that descend on Pamplona from all parts of the world is undoubtedly the running of the bulls, the famous encierro , the running of six bulls for the daily corrida / bullfight from the bullpen through city streets to the bullring. The bulls run the half-mile course in two minutes. Runners begin lining up an hour before the 8 am start, signalled by a rocket. For the runners, the experience is a pure adrenaline rush.


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