San Fermin (Running of the Bulls)

Each year in early July the city of Pamplona celebrates their patron saint with the Fiesta de San Fermín, and the Feira del Toro, the festival of the bull, with the encierro, the "running of the bulls".  Together they are known as los Sanfermines.  This 9-day festival, dating from the middle ages, begins at noon on the first day with the chupinazo (txupinazo in Basque), the firing of the rockets announcing the start of the fiesta, and continues nearly non-stop for the next 204 hours, ending at midnight on the on the last day with the "probe de mí", the closing candle light ceremony in the town hall square where it all began.

Though the encierro, the "running of the bulls" takes only a few minutes each morning for eight days, it has long been one of the most exciting and renowned parts of the festival.  Other important parts of the fiesta include the Procession of San Fermín, dozens of daily events beginning at 09:00, live concerts, bullfights each day at 18:30 (6:30 pm), and an international fireworks competition each night in the Ciudadela (the citadel).  All of the festival events are free, paid for by the city and open to the public, except for the bullfights.

Chupinazo (

Probe de mi (


WHEN: San Fermin Festival is ALWAYS on 6 July through to 14 July, every year. San Fermin is a local Saint. 

CROWDS: Pamplona’s population is £200k and during San Fermin Pamplona has a million visitors (Spanish and foreign tourists). that is sufficient to imagine how crowded it gets in the old city, where the fiesta is taking place.

SIXTH OF JULY  the San Fermin Festival kicks off at 12:00 noon at the Town Hall square (tiny square) but youe can go to the Plaza del Castillo  square where there was a stage and the ceremony is conducted there too. This is the day when the drinking begins...

SEVENTH of July is a national holiday, not just in Pampolna.

Beware: from 6th July the locals pour Sangria and buckets of water on passersby from the balconies. Youngsters in the streets do that too. It seems to be the habit and the bloodier your top looks the better. If you do not want to get wet a good idea is to wear a plastic see-through English type cover (the ones you buy in London for £2 to protect from the rain).

WEATHER – It can get very hot. Apparently this is the typical weather in that area.

In the evening on 6 July there is an AMAZING FIREWORKS display at the Ciudadela but this can be viewed from the old city so if you prefer to watch it not with the crowds that’s possible. It was for about 30 minutes with no interruption, all types of fireworks, really special. From the Program one can see there are fireworks every day at 23:00 at the Ciudadela.

On the morning of SEVENTH JULY is the first running of the bulls. It starts at 08:00 a.m. and is all finished within 10 minutes. Thereafter every morning, until 14 July, there is a run at 08:00 a.m. There are 2 parades, one religious (pretty big heads), pick up a brochure from Tourist Info for full list of events.

DRESS CODE: White top/t-shirt, white trousers (skirt/dress), long red sash (as a belt), red bandana (for the neck). The “outfit” can be purchased at Pamplona’s old city for max of €20. Alternatively you can bring your white clothes and buy a sash for €3. EVERYONE wears this outfit, not only in Pamplona, one can see people all over Navarre / Basque wearing it on San Fermin. If you want to RUN – all you need to do is show up at 06:30 a.m. at the start point. There is no fee (you may find that New Zealand and Australia agencies charge for this even though it is free).

If you want to watch and you are willing to squeeze with the crowds, you can attempt to do so by arriving at crack of dawn and standing by the second internal fence at the few places that are available (Pamplona is an old city so most of the running track is completely non accessible as it is in the narrow streets).

If you want to watch from a BALCONY, you have several options:

o    Pamplona Balconies – friendly guys with nice comments however extortionally expensive. Based in the USA (with an office in Pamplona), the charge for the two for 7th July was ... €1,200 (!!!). That was out of the question to spend that huge amount of money for a two minutes’ maximum pleasure of seeing the bulls run.

o   Ask the hotel to book the balcony for you (could cost €120 per person), which is also expensive.

o    The hotel can book with an agent that will take you to an apartment in Estefata Street (a long street where they run) and stay with the group the whole time, providing commentary and background. A whole VIP package with a meal etc, even with the hotel and a couple of balconies for 3 days, and a Reception is €2,000.

o    At the Tourist Information has a list with details how to book balconies: 

Company name

Person and tel





Luis Miguel Igea

672 38 97 20

Balcony VIP

Standard balcony





Conocer Navarra (Navarsol)


Juanchi Patus

649 39 55 55





Destino Navarra


Mikel Ollo

Details above

Chupinazo, Premium, VIP and standard balconies


No prices quoted, contact  him for details


Incoming Navarra

Carolina Paton

948 22 15 06

Chupinazo and and running of the bulls (Encierro) balconies

Chupinazo €300

Encierro €50



You can go and SEE THE BULLS from 6th July in 2 places in Pamplona. There is a small fee but is worth it. Across the bridge PUENTE DE LA ROCHAPEA. Open between 11:00 – 13:00 and 16:30 – 20:30. If this is not clear enough go to Tourist Info (at the Town Hall’s square), get a map and  ask where to go.

BULLS There are 2 types of bulls: the runners (white bulls with brown spots) who lead the running. And the Bull Fighters (the black bulls) who are reared to fight in bull fights, and they end up at Pamplona’s Bull Ring every night during San Fermin (yes they kill them at the Bull Fight).

SEE THE “TRACK”: You can walk in Pamplona and see the running track, there are signs on the streets ENCIERRO. Basically the Bulls are released under the Navarre Museaum and they run to Esteffeta Street, through the street straight into the Bull Ring (which is at the end of Estefatta).

PAMPLONA ATTRACTIONS SHUT before during and bit after San Fermin. The Navarre Museaum and many churches are shut from 5th till well after the 15th probably due to the masses arriving at Pamplona and the risk of damage to the attractions. According to the locals, to prevent hooliganism, everything is shut and there is a high presence of police officers wearing the full riots protection clothing (including shields) in the streets from the 6th of July.  On the 5th Pamplona is beautiful, on the 6th it is filthy, with smashed glass, plastic bottles and glasses everywhere, and other rubbish. The authorities try desperately to clean in midst of the havoc but can not keep up with the filth generated by the drunken people,

EAT: ok on the 5th, but on 6th and 7th it is impossible to find anywhere to eat or drink as it is SO crowded. There is a restaurant called NAM with lovely staff and food (Sarasate 26). Estefatta is out of the question if you want to have a meal sitting down (rather than dine standing up like sardines in the crowded streets).

Behind hotel Tres Reyes there is a big area full with food offerings of all types. The eateries are not very nice food-wise (quality and flavour), for example the “chicken paella” can be bland with little chicken in it. The pork belly steak is better. The prices are outrageously expensive. So if you do go there, select carefully and ask for the price before you order.

GOOD BEER: at the end of Esteffata street, there is a bar who brew their own beer. If you stand a the end of Estefatta street looking at the Bull Ring, the bar is on the left corner.