The Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain is one of the most well-known festivals in the world, and is celebrated from July 6th to the 14th every year. The festival dates back to 1591, and the origins of the festival are to celebrate the life and works of the Patron Saint of wineskins; San Fermin. The actual ‘Running of the Bulls’ began as the need to transport the bulls from their location outside the town into the bullring for the festivals daily bullfight. The transporting of the bulls has been performed in many Spanish towns for hundreds of years, and in some towns it became popular to let the bulls run through the streets. Those that were daring enough would run with them. It was not until almost 100 years after the San Fermin festival began that people started running with the bulls in Pamplona.
So, if this tradition happens in a number of festivals throughout Spain, then why is the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona the one that is such a world-wide phenomenon? We have the famous American writer Ernest Hemmingway to thank for the worldwide popularity of the San Fermin festival. Ernest Hemmingway came to Pamplona for the first time on July 6th 1923 on San Fermin’s opening day. The festival made such an impact on him, that he chose to write about it in his first successful novel ‘The Sun Also Rises’, published 3 years later. Another of his novels, ‘Death in the Afternoon’ is also set in Pamplona. Hemmingway attended the Pamplona San Fermin festival 9 times in a row, and his publishings were fundamental in turning a small home-town festival, hardly known outside of Spain, into one of the most famous festivals in the world. After Hemmingway died in 1961, the Pamplona Town Council paid homage to Ernest Hemmingway by erecting a monument in the town centre that bears his name.
The festival is not just about bullfights and running with the bulls through the streets of Pamplona every morning. It is also about dancing, eating, and a constant flow of sangria! Running with the bulls is daring and dangerous, and you don’t need to run to have a great time at this festival. But, if you do want to run it is important to respect the customs of the locals and follow their rules and regulations. It is also important to be prepared to get up early as the run commences at 8am every morning. Pamplona is a small Spanish town that gets overwhelmed with tourists for only 8 days a year, so finding accommodation can be difficult. TravAddict recommends booking your travel to Pamplona with Topdeck Travel as they have transport to and from the festival, and accommodation pre-booked.