San Fermín

San Fermín: Pamplona in July

When thinking of Spanish culture, one undoubtedly might picture bulls running through the streets alongside men with red handkerchiefs. The Running of the Bulls that is so widely known across the world is part of the San Fermín festival, that solely takes place in Spain’s northern Navarra region each July. Pamplona, the capital city of Navarra and home to San Fermín, fills with locals and visitors each year to celebrate this long-standing cultural practice.

San Fermín begins on July 6th with the feast of the patron saint of Navarra and continues through July 14th. The Running of the Bulls, or Encierro, highlights the most notorious part of the week and takes place in the early morning with many community members running through the streets alongside the bulls dressed in white with a red bandana.

Throughout the week, the city also engages in other forms of celebration with opening and closing ceremonies, religious ceremonies and coinciding processions, nightly fireworks, bullfights in La Plaza de Toros, and plenty of music and dancing.

Today, this celebration, and specifically the Running of the Bulls, has become less revered as it has brought up animal rights concerns. While originating with practical purposes of herding the bulls to the bull ring in the 16th century, this tradition receives much criticism today. To address recent considerations, the festival has attempted to increasingly change shape while balancing the rich cultural significance that the festival holds for locals.

During San Fermín, people from around the world gather together with locals to experience this centuries-old practice. In 2013, San Fermín was added to UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. If participating in this festival is something that interests you, reach out to us at Valesa to plan your summer travels in Spain as soon as possible.