Fast Facts

  • Location: Pamplona in the northern Spanish province of Navarra.
  • Best time to Visit: July 7 — 14.
  • Preferred Timing: 07.30 a.m.
  • How to reach:
    The nearest airport is Pamplona Airport (PNA). Iberia Airlines have several flights a day from Madrid and Barcelona to Pamplona. You will also find Spanair from Madrid and TAP from Lisbon. There are also three international airports nearby which include Bilbao Airport (BIO) (156 km), Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ) (170 km) and Biarritz — Anglet — Bayonne Airport (BIQ) in France (115 km).

    Daily trains are available to Pamplona from a number of destinations including Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria, Galicia, and Asturias. You can take urban busses to reach downtown from the railway station.

    The bus is the cheapest mode of transportation to reach Pamplona. You can find a number of daily services from a destination like Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastií¡n, Bilbao, Vitoria, and Zaragoza, etc.
  • Nearest Rail Station: Pamplona
  • Nearest Airport: Pamplona Airport (PNA).

“Excitement of a completely different breed” — this is possibly how one can describe best one of the most popular events in Spain — The Running of the Bulls (encierro in Spanish). A practice of running in front of bulls, the Running of the bulls is a nine-day festival of Fermí­n in Pamplona in the northern Spanish province of Navarra where, unlike bullfights which are performed by professionals, anyone can take part. Though ‘Running of the Bulls’ are organized not only in many towns and villages in Spain, but also in many other countries around the world including Mexico and France, but the events of Pamplona has become world-famous for its character, intensity, and popularity. The Running of the Bulls, Pamplona or the Pamplona encierro is broadcasted live on two national channels of Spain and is also the highest-profile event of the San Fermí­n festival, a popular festival in the country.

In the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, a number of brave, determined, and of course crazy runners come to participate and run in front of a bull with huge horns. Though full of excitement, this event is also full of injuries as participants are quite prone to injury by trampling.

The Running of the Bulls — the Event

The Running of the Bull in Pamplona is a part of the San Fermí­n festival organized every year during July 6 — 14. The Running of the Bull starts on July 7 and is organized on each of the following mornings at 8 a.m. In order to participate in the event, one needs to be over eighteen years of age and has to enter the itinerary before 7.30 a.m. The event begins as the runners sing a prayer thrice to Saint Fermin — “A San Fermí­n pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guí­e en el encierro dí¡ndonos su bendición” (“We ask San Fermí­n, as our Patron, to guide us through the encierro and give us his blessing”).

The participants need to wear the traditional dress of the festival consisting white shirt and trousers with a red waistband and neckerchief. Participants use rolled-newspapers in order to draw the attention of the bulls. A set of wooden or iron barricades are used to direct the bulls’ route and also to block off side-streets. There are four rocket signals to indicate various phases of the event. The first one is used when the corral gate opens up. The second one indicates that all the bulls and steers have been released. The third and fourth ones indicate the return of herd to the bullring and its corral respectively which make an end of the event.

Tips — If You Are Running

Let it be made very clear at the very beginning that running in front of the bull may be quite dangerous, especially if you do not have prior training. So, if you want to run in front of the bulls, consider it well beforehand. You may use the following tips that could be helpful for you while running in front of the bulls:

(i) You need to enter through the gates in the Plaza Consistorial before 7.30 a.m. (ii) Pay due attention to the most dangerous stretches which include Callejon-Plaza de Toros and the end of the Cuesta de Santo Domingo. (iii) Maintain the proper dress-code. Do not carry any items like cameras, backpacks, etc. with you. (iv) It is always better to ask for advice from experienced runners. (v) Getting in and out is important. You need to get into the flow gradually as other runners get out. (vi) Beware of falling as the chances of stumbling and falling are quite high. There is always a threat of getting stampede by the huge crowd.

Related Links : To get a taste of the Running the Bull event at Pamplona, watch this video! You will find how it feels to be running in front of a raging bull, despite the poor video quality.

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