San Fermínes in Pamplona

Every year, the quiet streets of the small town of Pamplona in the north of Spain turn into a huge and loud festivity that lasts for an entire week. The patron saint Fermín gets his own unique celebrations that annually start on July 6th and end 8 days later on July 14th.
 

everbody is wearing the famous red scarf during the festivities
 
The origins of the San Fermínes festival date back to the Middle Ages and are related to religious acts in honor of the patron as well as livestock fairs that were held at the beginning of the summer. As cattle merchants came into town with their animals, eventually bullfighting was organized too as part of the tradition.
 
Legend has it that Fermín was the son of Firmus, senator of the Roman city of Ponmpaelo, nowadays called Pamplona. Firmus let a priest educate his son but to his disappointment, the priest made Fermín and his mother convert to Christianity. Fermín left to evangelize the Galicians and with 24 years he was consecrated bishop in Toulouse (France). He went on further preaching journeys in France and Spain but later got beheaded in Amiens, France, for his work and believes. Today, he is considered a martyr in the Catholic Church, due to his intensions of spreading the word of god and acting in his favor.
 

the whole city is dressed in red and white, waiting for the chupinazo
 
Since people basically celebrate two festivals combined into one big event, there are several activities and customs that are held each year. The celebrations start at noon on July 6th with a rocket called chupinazo which is launched from the city hall balcony by a person selected by the town’s mayor. Everybody is wearing red and white colours, the colours of Pamplona and starts celebrating in the main square of the city. A week later it all ends with the singing of Pobre de Mí at midnight on July 14th on the same square as it always begins. The closing tradition also consists of locals lighting a candle and wearing a red scarf on their neck to honor San Fermín and the city of Pamplona before enjoying one last firework.
 

the giant’s parade takes place every morning during the whole week
 
During the San Fermines week there are parades of giant figures every morning, bullfights every afternoon and fireworks during the night. Besides that, many other folkloric events such as competitions in different traditional sports like stone lifting, wood cutting or hay bale lifting are held as well.
On July 7th, the actual day of the patron saint, there is a big procession with thousands of people joining the ceremony when the 15th-century statue of Saint Fermín is carried through the old part of Pamplona. The statue is accompanied by dancers, street entertainers and different political and religious authorities including the city mayor.
 


 
Besides the religious rituals there is also the famous bull running, which is probably the most well-known tradition of this event. The running involves hundreds of people running in front of 12 bulls down an 825 meter stretch of narrow streets towards the bullring. The fenced route is impossible to complete entirely because of the many other runners in the streets and the speed of the bulls that participants are trying to run away from.
Although it is a rather dangerous custom, it has been part of the festival for more than 200 years. In order to avoid bad injuries and not getting in trouble with authorities, participants must be over 18, in good physical conditions and should not be drinking prior to the activity.
Originally, the purpose of this happening was to move the bulls from outside the city into the bullring for the bullfights however it is uncertain when people started to run in front of the animals.
 

who dares to run in front of the bulls risks to get injured by them or other runners
 
Due to the great weather conditions in Pamplona in July and the lack of seats in bars for everybody, people mostly celebrate on the streets, by dancing, singing or having a chat outside.
Through all the efforts and dedication to this special week, San Fermínes became the most internationally renowned festival in Spain, so if you got interested in joining this spectacular event do not hesitate to contact us!