Pamplona and The San Fermin Festival

Posted on Jul 10 2013 - 5:32pm by Ave

In July, a lot of festivals and concerts are held in Spain. There is something for everyone. But the most famous and important festival of the month of July  is held in Pamplona – The San Fermin Festival.

This post is a brief review of different events going on during the festival. If you need more information, don’t hesitate to visit San Fermin Festival webpage.


Pamplona is the capital city of Navarre (one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain). It’s an industrial city with a population of around 200,000 inhabitants. The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermin festival.

We visited Pamplona in October 2011, while on our vacation in North of Spain. It’s sad to admit that the only things I remember from the visit are delicious food and the bulls statue. We also took the Bull Run route recommended by the Tourist Information Office – it was the only thing they recommended us to see.

Here are the only 4 photos we took there:

Pamplona & San Fermin Festival #sanfermin #pamplona spain #travel

Bull statue, food & hotel room

What to see in Pamplona

Of course there are a lot of museums, churches, bridges, squares and other interesting sights to see besides the Bull Route.

  • Cathedral Basílica Santa María la Real
  • The Citadel
  • The City Walls
  • Taconera Park
  • The Town Hall

For more information visit Pamplona’s City Hall website.

The San Fermin Festival

It’s the most important festival in Pamplona. Thanks to Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” (“Fiesta”), San Fermin Festival became famous all over the world. It’s held annually between July 6th and 14th in honour of San Fermin. Nowadays the religious part of the festival has a secondary role as partying and having fun has taken over the primary role. Over 1,000,000 people come to visit this festival. People use to dress in white and tie a red scarf around their necks.


During the nine days of festival there are different events held every day.

  • Chupinazo – a rocket is launched at 12:00 am to celebrate the opening of the festival.
  • Saint Fermin procession
  • Giants and big-heads parade – a daily parade with 25 dancing and waving  figures. Some of them are more than 150 years old.
  • Exhibitions and competitions of Basque rural sports.
  • Bullfights are held every afternoon.
  • Running of the bulls.
  • The singing of the Pobre de Mí – closing of the festival.

The Bull Run (Encierro)

While there are a lot of traditional and folkloric events going on during San Fermin Festival, the most famous event is the bull run. It’s celebrated every day at 8 am during the fiestas. The route itself is 875 m long and leads to Pamplona’s Bullring through old town. The run lasts about 3-4 min and ends when the bulls have entered the arena.

If you are not one of the thrill-seekers who wants to outrun the bulls, there are another ways to enjoy the race.

  • Watch the run on the street – be early to get a good place for the show.
  • Buy a ticket to the bullring – you can enjoy the end of the race there.
  • See it on TV or in internet – the cheapest and safest way to be part of the festival.
  • Rent a balcony – it’s really popular way to enjoy the run. Costs around 50€ and includes breakfast.

Sadly, the bull run is not just fun and thrill.  Since 1942, bulls have killed 15 persons.

Have you heard about the festival?


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Estonian living in Canary Islands. A science teacher turned to stay at home mom.

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  • Wow! That looks like alot of fun! I would love to visit!

  • Keisha Talley

    Would love visit Spain

  • Looks like a great trip and LOTS of delicious food! Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow, Pamplona looks amazing! We always watched the bull runs back home. I love the 4 photos you took. 🙂

  • WOW !!! What an amazing festival!

  • Wow I would love to see this in person!

  • I would love to watch the Bull Run – from a very high window, lol! It looks cool!

  • I would love to see this one day! What a great experience.

  • That food looks amazing. We go on trips and sometimes forget to take pictures also, silly us.

    I just don’t understand that whole running of the bulls thing. I guess that no one got hurt this year so I guess it’s not that big of deal. I just think that it’s insane to put yourself at risk like that. However, I do find myself watching it.

  • Well… it looks like life abroad can be pretty fantastic! That bull run looks really scaring and thrilling though! Nice pics!

  • I would be terrified to do the bull run, otherwise, I would love to visit. 🙂

  • Elisebet F

    Cool! Until…a couple days ago, we thought we were moving to Spain in January. Looks like the Navy has other plans for us though. 🙁 Oh well…we may still get to visit one day. From everything I’ve read, Spain is amazing!