The festival of San Fermín in Pamplona is an extremely popular annual celebration held annually from 6 July. Over one million people each year participate in this unique festival. It has become the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain.
The fiestas are celebrated in honor of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra, although the religious aspect would seem to have taken on a secondary role over the last years.
The opening of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona is marked by setting off the chupinazo – the pyrotechnic rocket which is launched at noon on 6 July from a city hall balcony. This became the official tradition of the fiesta since 1941 and lasts until today.
The person who sets it off is decided by the city mayor. It is usually done by a person from the different city council political groups or with some non-politicians which performed significant achievements during the year in the local area.
Every day of the San Fermin Festival, in the morning, there is a unique parade of giants and big heads (gigantes y cabezudos). The eight giants’ figures were built by the painter from Pamplona and it is a tradition that lasts for more than 150 years.
These eight giant figures represent four pairs of kings and queens of four different races and continents – Europe, Asia, America, and Africa.
Every night during the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona there is a firework spectacle at the citadel park. This became a tradition in 1595 and thousands of people watch them while sitting on the grass around the citadel itself.
During the festival, there are numerous exhibitions and competitions of the local sports every morning in the square close to the city citadel. Sports include stone or hay bale lifting or woodcutting. Betting is common during these events as well.
Bullfight and Bull-running in Pamplona
The worldwide popularity of the San Fermín festival, especially to the English-speaking countries, was brought by Ernest Hemingway. He described the event in his book The Sun Also Rises and made reports as a journalist.
The running of the bulls (esp: encierro) involves hundreds of people running in front of six bulls down an 825-meter (0.51 miles) stretch of narrow streets of the old town of Pamplona. It was born from need: getting the bulls from outside the city into the bullring.
The running of the event of the bull is quite dangerous. Since 1925, 15 people have been killed during the event. Each year between 200 and 300 people are injured during the bull-running event.
The run ends in Pamplona’s bullring where the bulls are held until the bullfight when they would be killed. Tickets for this event are hard to find since the bullring of Pamplona is the 4th largest in the world.