With over 3,000 festivals each year, Spain is a popular tourist destination. The most famous and extraordinary of these events is the one that takes place from July 7 to 14 each year. It is the Pamplona Bull Run. This dramatic event that garners the attention of both tourists from all over the world and Spanish locals. During this time, thousands flow into Pamplona to honor San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarre, by attending the Bull Run.
The festival begins at daybreak on July 6, as the runners (mostly male) wait along the starting line at Santo Domingo. They sing homage to San Fermin, which is present as an image on a wall. Through the song, they ask for the guidance and blessings of the patron saint, as they are to begin the Bull Run. Then, a rocket signals the start of the event. The fighting bulls are released onto the streets. Another rocket goes off so that everyone knows that the bulls are, indeed, free. The bulls run about half a mile through a narrow street until they reach a bullring. The runners rush ahead of the bulls, trying to avoid getting injured by the horns of the animals. In the meantime, they try to feel the breath of the bulls on their backs. They do so by starting off slowly when there is a good distance between them and the bulls, and allowing the bulls to come near. As the bulls come close, the runners quickly dash away as they look for an empty space in the fence or other escape route. When the bulls reach the end of the race, they are led into pens, where they are kept until the end of day when they are killed in a bullfight.
While some people and organizations oppose the Pamplona Bull Run because of its treatment of animals and the danger it poses to humans, it is a tradition in this Spanish-speaking country. It actually attracts many tourists. This traditional festival was born in 1591. Back then, the locals were expected to herd bulls into the bullfighting facility. The event eventually changed into a running event with people running in front of the bulls. The year 1852 saw the addition of a new bullring, as well as a new route. At first, only a handful of people ran with the bulls, but gradually this changed as more and more people wanted to experience the adrenaline surge of running before bulls that weigh about 1,500 pounds. To some people, it may seem like a dangerous festival, but it attracts all kinds of travelers from all around the world. Even if someone is not interested in the running aspect of the event, he or she may be interested in the viewing part. Spectators of the Pamplona Bull Run are left in awe, wonder, and suspense.
If you cannot attend this festival in July, you might be able to make it to other bull running festivals that take place in other cities of Spain. They may not be as huge and highly publicized as this one, but they are nonetheless exciting and worth a visit. Among these is the bull running festival of Aravaca-Pozuelo, a suburb of Madrid, which takes place in late summer.