Running of the bulls (Spain)
Name of sport (game)
Name in native language
Place of practice (continent, state, nation)
The city of Pamplona is world-famous for its fiestas of San Fermín Festival. Thousands of people go there every year to experience the risk and the thrill of the running of the bulls, a tradition immortalised by Ernest Hemingway in his novel Fiesta. Over nine days, dressed in traditional red and white costumes, locals and visitors give themselves over to the festive spirit.
San Fermín starts at 6 am on 6 July. This is when the inaugural rocket is launched from the balcony of the Town Hall, marking the official start of the fiesta, and the crowd gathered in the square goes wild. The first running of the bulls takes place the next day: at 8 am the doors to the Santo Domingo corral are opened and hundreds of people run ahead of the bulls on a route around the old town to the bullring.
Every day from 7 to 14 July, this brief, intense race is repeated, taking just three minutes to run the 825-metre route. Rockets are launched to notify runners of the stages of the running: the first rocket when the corral gates are opened, the second when all the bulls have left, the third, in the arena, when the bulls enter the bullring, and the fourth when they are in the bullpens and the running of the bulls is finished. One of the most emotive moments occurs a few minutes before the running of the bulls starts, when the runners ask San Fermín to protect them, singing three times to of a small image located on Cuesta de Santo Domingo.
To amuse the children, every morning of the fiestas there is a parade of gigantes y cabezudos (carnival figures) around the city centre. Other events include outdoor dances, concerts, dance performances and, of course, bullfights, which are very lively thanks to the peñas or clubs cheering them on. San Fermín ends on 14 July at midnight, when the people gather in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento with lit candles, singing “Pobre de mí” (poor me), saying goodbye to their fiesta until the following year.
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