The San Fermín Festival

San Fermin festival

A Must When Going to Pamplona Spain

Probably the most exciting and fun time to be in Pamplona, Spain is during the San Fermín Festival.

Taking place on the 6th of July every year, it’s a celebration that even Ernest Hemingway recommended for everyone to take part in. He included the festivities in the plot of his novel The Sun Also Rises.

Las Fiestas de San Fermín begin with the Txupinazo or Chupinazo at the Plaze del Ayuntamiento. The Chupinazo is a rocket that goes off to signal the celebration’s start. A message is sent out to the people of Pamplona telling them that the festivities began.

The opening ceremony ends with long live San Fermín and the party begins in earnest. People are out on the street dancing, drinking and spraying cava, a white or pink sparkling wine from the Catalonia region.

Do you want to see something wild? Don’t miss El Encierro or The Running of the Bulls, the biggest event of the fiesta. It starts on July 7th and lasts through July 14th.

One of the highlights of the event is the bullfights which have always been part of Hispanic culture. But the most anticipated event is the running of the bulls, or should I say with the bulls…

As crazy as it sounds, hundreds of mozos or young men take part in this death defying event where bulls are let loose in an enclosed narrow strip to race the people ahead of them. A rocket is set off to signal that the gates are open, and another one signals that the bulls are contained.

The Running of the Bulls is a half mile race during the eight days of the festivities. Participants and bulls run through the town’s streets to the bull’s ring where the six bulls will be fighting that evening.

The mozos try their very best to keep at least 50 meters in front of the bulls, while many people observe the running of the bulls from the balconies above.

For many, the ultimate San Fermín Festival experience is to try out running with the bulls. But if you think you can’t out run the bulls, you can just watch the Encierro from a great vantage point.

Take note that you’ll have to be there very early in the morning about 6:00 am to find a great spot.

During the evenings, the bullfights take place and begin as soon as the sun sets. The main focus of the festival of San Fermín is the bullfights where you can be at the center of a true Hispanic experience.

The San Fermín Procession

The San Fermín festival also has a procession happening at 10 a.m. on July 7th. The statue of San Fermín, church officials and just anyone else can join the procession.

Expect the streets to be packed with people who want to enjoy the procession, and participants who want to accompany the saint in his path to the cathedral to collect the group of official ecclesiastical representatives.

San Fermin festival

San Fermin festival

After parading the saint for two hours the procession ends at the church where it all started.

One of the most important moments is when the procession brings the figure of the saint to the cathedral. Enjoy the impromptu songs that many sing to San Fermín along his procession path.

You can’t also miss the Cabezudos or big heads, and the Giants who accompany the procession. Dancers don big heads which are undoubtedly a vivid display of colors.



What to Wear at the San Fermín Festival

Simply be prepared to dress on a white shirt, white skirt or pants, a red sash around the waist, red scarf around the neck and sandals, if possible with red ribbons.

You’ll have a lot to do when you’re in Pamplona at the time of the Fiesta de San Fermín. All dolled up in your airy and comfortable red and white attire, you can head on to Pamplona to participate in this fun and one of a kind festivity.


  1. michael fronstin says:

    I have conflicting information upon reading bout the running of the bulls. Do they run every morning for a week or only on July 6?
    How do spectators observe the run?


    Mike Fronstin

    • Marcela Hede says:

      The Pamplona Bull Running is the festivity you are referring to. The festivity starts on the 6th of July and ends on the 14th of July. This is the most popular bull run in Spain and it has been broadcasted live by RTVE a TV channel for 30 years. It runs during the San Fermin festival and the the first bull run is on July 7, from that day on, each of the following mornings there is a bull run for each day of the festival starting at 8 am. The participants must be at least 18 or older and not be under the influence of alcohol.

      People observe the running of the bulls from balconies and high elevated places that fill up fast way before the release starts.

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