Spain is known for its beautiful garments, delicious food and, most importantly, the festivals. The Pamploma festival in particular brings thousands of spectators each year to watch the famous San Fermin running of the bulls, and the celebration began on Sunday much to the excitement of many anticipating viewers.
The festival lasts nine days, with exciting spine-tingling daily bull runs, all-night partying, and an overwhelming sea of white apparel with red handkerchiefs flooding the streets. The event honors St. Fermin, the first bishop of Pamplona who was decapitated in the 3rd century in France. The gala has incorporated bullfights since the 14th century. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 classic novel, highlighted the running of the bull fiesta and described the alluring Pamploma festival to the millions who read the book.
The Pamploma festival began at noon on July 8 with the launching of a firework rocket, signaling the debut of the running of the bull celebration. Pamploma, Spain is also known for its fine wine and is located south of the Rioja vineyard district. The wine in Pamploma has greatly contributed to important celebrations for centuries.
Festival-goers and wine aficionados drank the beverage from leather wine pouches and even enjoyed spraying each other with the liquid. People even poured wine from overhead balconies to commemorate the occasion.
A total of eight bull runs will take place throughout the week and the first will begin on Monday at 8 am. Six bulls will race 875 yards down the city’s narrow streets and chase hundreds of eager participants who live for the adrenaline rush of running from the fearsome beasts. Unfortunately, the bulls can weigh up to 1,380 pounds and have killed a total of 15 people since the record-keeping was initiated in 1924. Many other people are injured by tripping and falling in the race, and occasionally some are trampled and gored by the large animals. This year’s celebration will be patrolled by 3,500 police from the local government of Navarra in order to keep the streets as safe as possible.
The bulls are directed to the bullring in Pamplona where they will face the matadors in the afternoon and will be killed in the ring. Animal rights advocates protested the event on Saturday, stating that 48 bulls are executed every year during the bull fights.
Although the bulls are the main attraction, the San Fermin festival will feature a total of 443 events, one beginning every half-hour. Visitors will enjoy dances, concerts, games, fireworks, religious processions and parades in addition to the focal point of the occasion. The Pamplona government plans to spend nearly $1.35 million on the fiesta this year.
Press credentials have been issued by city officials to 2,017 photographers, reporters and other media members to capture the brilliant images and to document the soiree. Media outlets from the United States, Japan, France, Qatar, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Britain, Mexico, Italy, Russia, Germany and Uruguay are covering the festival.
The Pamploma festival, although somewhat dangerous, celebrates the running of the bulls which began on Sunday. People arrive to the city from all over the world just to witness the incredible experience and to share that courageous experience with others.
By Amy Nelson