San Fermín

Get ready for nine days of intense festivities in Pamplona
Start: 6 July 2023
End: 14 July 2023


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2 Calle San Saturnino, 31001 Pamplona, Navarra, Spain

GPS: 42.8185, -1.64426

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The festival of San Fermín (or Sanfermines) is the inseparable event of the city of Pamplona. It is held in honour of Saint Firmin, patron saint of Navarre. The origins of the festivities are religious and date back to medieval times (in the 12th century following the transfer of a relic from Amiens to Pamplona). From 1591 onwards, the event was combined with the livestock fair, bullfighting fiestas and the city’s bullfights in July.

The festival of San Fermín gained its worldwide reputation thanks to the novel “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway in 1926. In is time, this American novelist was passionate about férias and fishing in the Pamplona area.

Dressed in white with a red scarf (pañuelico) and belt (faja), the public comes from all over the world to participate in bullfights, religious celebrations and events that take place during the festival of San Fermín: fireworks competitions, bands (charangas), dances, theatres, parades of giants (gigantes) and bigheads (cabezudos), dances, concerts…

The festivities officially start with the launch of a pyrotechnic rocket (chupinazo) on 6 July and end on 14 July at midnight with a great popular song (Pobre de mí) sung by a human tide. The festival of San Fermín also features a cultural programme and honours the ganaderías, centres for breeding fighting bulls (a bull can weigh 600 kg).

The release and running of the bulls (encierro) remain the central element of the Sanfermines, to the rhythm of brass bands and peñas. They are organized in the historic part of Pamplona. The route leads to the bullring along a 825-metre stretch of track that is full of adrenaline for those who dare to run close to the animals. Around 2,000 people take part in the daily running of the bulls during the 9 days of festivities. It is the shepherds who are in charge of leading the bulls to the bullring with a stick.

During the festival of San Fermín, many activities are offered to the youngest (sports, games, dance classes, workshops, fairs…) in the park of the Plaza de los Fueros.

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  • The running of the bulls (encierro), a spectacle as dangerous as it is spectacular
  • The week of festivities, processions and shows held in a cosmopolitan atmosphere
  • The songs delivered by thousands of people
  • The visit to the chapel of San Fermín in the church of San Lorenzo (the place where the cult of the people of Navarre to the saint Firmin was born)
  • Saint Firmin was born in Pamplona in the 3rd century (he was the son of a Roman senator). According to legend, he was responsible for the evangelisation of Gaul to Christianity.
  • The red scarf that participants wear around their necks during the Sanfermines symbolizes the decapitation of Saint Firmin, which took place in the city of Amiens in France.
  • The other patron saint of Navarre is Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary in the 16th century. His feast day (3 December) coincides with the celebration of Euskara (the Basque language).
  • The bull run of the encierro causes injuries every year and can sometimes turn into a nightmare. 16 people have died since 1911 during the festival of San Fermín, 5 of them since 1980 (the latest was in 2009).
  • Please respect the dress code to participate in the festival of San Fermín (white top and skirt or trousers with a red scarf and belt).
  • Entrance to the festivities is free of charge, while entrance to the bullfights is charged.
  • Only adults may take part in the running of the bulls. For your own safety and that of other participants, be sure to follow the rules on how to prepare and behave towards these dangerous animals. More or less serious personal injury accidents occur every year due to trampling, tipping over or simply being gored.
  • If you wish to attend the encierro show as a spectator, arrive at around 5.30 or 6.00 am at the latest in order to get a place along the route, behind the double protective fences. The encierro takes place every morning at 8.00 am during the festival and starts from the Corrales (enclosures) of Santo Domingo. The release of the bulls can also be admired in the bullring (the place where the animals arrive) or from the balcony of a building along the route (rentals can be arranged in advance).
  • Packages including guided tours of the city are available from the Pamplona Tourist Office. Craft stalls can be found in La Taconera Park.
  • Some peñas or sanfermineras (bars), organized in an associative form, are reserved for members of a group or inhabitants of the same neighbourhood.