Bull Run Pamplona
The Encierro ... The Running of the Bulls
The Pamplona Running of the Bulls is a part of the San Fermin Festival. This fiesta is celebrated in Irunea/Pamplona (region of Navarra) every year for 8 days in a row. A spectacular and unique event which everyone should experience once in a life time!
The fiestas are originally celebrated in honor of San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra, although the religious aspect has become less important over the last few of years. Nowadays, the fiestas are more held as a gathering of people from all over the world and where the partying, the fun and the joy of it all is the main purpose of this festival.
At 8:00am sharp every day 6 bulls and 4 oxen are released on the cobbled streets of the old town of Pamplona. They start in Calle de Santo Domingo and run 825 meters along Plaza Consistorial, Calle Mercaderes, Calle Estafeta, and end in Plaza de Toros (The Arena).
The run usually lasts between 3 and 4 minutes although it has sometimes taken over 10 minutes, especially if one of the bulls has been isolated from his companions.
The bulls run faster than any of the 3000 adrenaline overdosed humans who want to be close to them. There are no safe places in the streets to stand still and watch. There are simply too many people taking part in the event, and the bulls become very unpredictable. The only way to watch in safety, if not on TV, is from a balcony. There are no other positions, no grandstands or reserved seats. But the most spectacular way to participate in this event, is running the bulls of course!
Rockets in the bullring
The runners wait just a few meters up the slope from the corral (where the bulls are waiting) and they will raise their rolled newspapers and sing to San Fermin. This all happens a few minutes before 8:00 am. When they finish they shout "Viva San Fermin". After the launching of two rockets the gate of the corral is opened and the bulls charge behind the runners for 825 metres, the distance between the corral and the bullring.
The third rocket, fired from the bullring, signals that all the bulls have entered the bullring. A fourth and final rocket indicates that all the bulls are safely in the corral located inside the bullring, and that the bull run has ended.
Useful information about the bull run
The encierro (the run) is an unbelievable experience for spectators and runners. It is a spectacle that is defined by the level of risk and the physical ability of the runners.
An inexperienced runner should learn about the characteristics of this dangerous "race" before starting, and also about the protective measures to be taken for his/her own safety and that of the people running alongside.
Not everyone can run the encierro. It requires cool nerves, quick reflexes and a good level of physical fitness. Anyone who does not have these three should not take part. It is a highly risky enterprise.
Runners should be at the point of starting before 7:30am, because entry to the run is closed from that time on. The rest of the run must be completely clear of runners until a few minutes before 8:00am.
Joining this fiesta is highly recommended and one of a kind!
Have fun, good luck and be safe 🙂
Biarritz airport – 1h 45min.
Bordeaux airport – 3h
Bayonne train station – 1h 45 min.
Dax train station – 2h
San Sebastian airport – 1h 15 min.