On Saturday July 7th the bulls will once again charge through the streets of Pamplona, Spain. Crowds gather in this Basque city starting on the 5th or 6th, many staying for the entire eight days of the festival.
Though you could spend a week there and miss the whole point, it is a religious festival celebrating Pamplona’s patron saint – Fermin.
There are processions day and night featuring the Penas – marching bands, costumed giants on stilts and the international parade of partiers – which is fitting as Fermin is the saint of wine makers and therefore the adopted saint of drinkers!
Here’s the daily routine
If you sleep at all, you are up by 7:00 am, at the latest, to get a good spot from which to view the “encierro” – the mad dash of men and bulls through the narrow streets of the old city.
Traditionally, women do not participate in the running, but some foreigners do it.
After the bulls reach the stadium, the chaos subsides and revelers head for a cafe to tend to their wounds, (which usually consist of scrapes suffered during the run or hangovers from the night before), over churros dipped in hot chocolate, coffee, or a traditional egg liquor.
Days are spent eating, drinking, watching parades and concerts, meeting travelers from all over the world, and, if you are smart, napping somewhere!
Evening choices include the bullfights; concerts and dancing in the plaza; and lots more parading through the streets by the Penas, with dinner and drinks in between of course!
It’s something everyone should do at least once in their life! I have been three times and will go back someday.