I survived Running of the Bulls. Okay, maybe I didn’t actually run with the bulls, but being a part of San Fermin requires stamina, so I’d still like to say I survived the 4 days I was there. I highly recommend everyone to attend Opening Day of San Fermin, since it is a big celebration for all ages (although I’m not too sure if it is appropriate for toddlers, but they were there!)

History

The San Fermin festival occurs every year from July 6 – July 14 in Pamplona, Spain to honor San Fermin, a patron saint of Narvarna. Earnest Hemingway wrote a detailed account of the festival in his novel The Sun Also Rises, which popularized the event and attracted people from all over the world. Nowadways, the focus is less on the saint San Fermin, and more about a fun atmosphere of dancing, bull riding, and sangria.

Part 1 – Opening Day Highlights

The Opening Day of San Fermin tops my list as one of the best parties.  San Fermin doesn’t officially start until noon on July 6. The streets are already packed by 10 am with endless amounts of tourists, locals, and sangria. Below is a picture of me and some Kiwi friends before we headed into the center. We did not know what we were about to get into.

 

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Dressed in all white. You can tell the festival has not officially begun since our red scarfs are on our wrists instead of around our necks.

 

Once we entered the center square around 10 am, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of all the excitement and energy…

…half full sangria bottles are being thrown in the air. If a person in a balcony catches the sangria bottle then they chug it and throw the empty bottle back at the crowd.

….girls climb on their friend’s shoulders and immediately get doused in Sangria. (If boys get on shoulders they just get booed)

….people chanting in Spanish and English jumping all over the place.

I take a swig of my sangria and join in the action.

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Friends getting squirted with Sangria

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The festival still hasn’t officially started yet!

 

By 11 am I already finished my first bottle of sangria. I leave the center to grab another bottle and try to meet my friends again before the chupinazo (rocket) is launched at noon. When I came back to the center, this was the crowd I tried to manage my way through:

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There was no way I was going to find my friends, so I just stopped where I was and decided to befriend the people around me. For 30 minutes we were all packed like sardines, but the energy outweighed the discomfort. Finally once the mayor came out, everyone held out their red scarves waiting for the rocket to launch so that they can put their scarves around their neck and acknowledge that San Fermin has officially begun!

I spent the rest of the day with the two Czech boys that I was forced to meet since we were stuck like sardines in the center. The rest of the day consisted of dancing in bars, giving little kids high fives, taking short siestas by trees, and of course lots of sangria! By 9 pm, I was ready to head back to my campsite so that I could wake up early to watch the bull run.

New Czech Friends

New Czech Friends

 

Bull run post to follow….

 

 

For professional photos of San Fermin, check out this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/07/running-of-the-bulls-2015-the-fiesta-de-san-fermin/398009/