San Fermin Festival – Fiestas de San Fermin
The San Fermin Festival is famous the world over. For 9 days every July, thousands of spectators from around the globe descend on the city of Pamplona, Spain to experience the magic and mayhem of the World’s Largest Fiesta™. The festival kicks off with a rocket blast at noon on July 6 and continues to rage until midnight July 14th, when a candlelit singing of “Pobre de Mi” closes the ceremony.
The fiesta, known locally as San Fermines, lures more than a million visitors a year for good reason. People come to see colossal bulls run the gauntlet, watch matadors test their skills and immerse themselves in the curious wonders and non-stop thrills of this historically-rooted celebration.
Savor every second of this unique, interactive festival, which welcomes everyone to participate rather than observe. The joyous atmosphere is infectious. The beat of the fiesta goes 24/7 with dances, street-side parties, singing, parades, and an endless list of traditional folkloric events.
Much more than bull runs, bullfights and unbridled partying, the Fiestas de San Fermin are a time of reflection and respect. From the moment the first rocket is fired on July 6, Pamplona transforms into a buzzing haven of fraternity, happiness and warmth – a place where young and old, religious and secular, modern and ancient unite.
Learn more about the festival’s single day events and highlights from The Running of the Bulls®, the authoritative expert on the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona.
The Chupinazo starts the San Fermin Festival with a veritable bang. Following a brief speech that exalts the figure of St. Fermin, the famous rocket is launched from the balcony of the Town Hall at precisely 12 o’clock Noon on July 6, ushering in a roaring cheer from thousands of passionate onlookers. The Chupinazo is historically set off by representatives of newly elected political groups, or a respected figure who is hand-chosen by the Pamplona mayor. The event is broadcast on jumbo screens in various locales throughout the city including Paseo de Sarasate, Parque de Antoniutti, Plaza del Castillo, Avenida de Carlos III and Plaza de los Fueros.
The Riau-Riau dance is celebrated by thousands of festival-goers and townspeople on the afternoon of July 6. The procession is made by members of the city council who parade from the Town Hall to San Lorenzo church, accompanied by revelers who loudly sing and dance the traditional Astrain Waltz, the beloved Riau-Riau.
Toda la ciudad
con movimiento contemplando está
la gran caravana
que alegre hasta San Lorenzo va.
Los del Ayuntamiento
con mazas y timbales
van a honrar a su patrón.”
¡¡Riau riau!!In English, this translates to: “The whole city with movement contemplating / is the big caravan. How happy until San Lorenzo goes. The Town Hall with clubs and timbales / they are going to honor their patron. Riau riau!!”
The joyous and emotionally-charged San Fermin Procession takes place on the morning of July 7th, when a statue of Saint Fermin is carried through Pamplona’s streets accompanied by political and religious figures, Giants, the Pamplona brass band and a host of street entertainers. Traditional dances, songs and other spontaneous acts of devotion punctuate this lively parade that starts at the San Lorenzo Church and ends with a solemn mass presided over by the Archbishop of Pamplona.
While you won’t find “El Struendo” (the roar) on the San Fermin official program, this cherished event has been a local tradition for decades. Just before midnight, a crowd of people gather behind Town Hall with their musical instruments in tow. Some bring bowls, whistles or any household object that makes noise to join this impromptu band as they parade through the streets with a deafening clamor. The Struendo is usually held mid-week of the fiesta and welcomes all participants.
After nine incredible days of adrenaline and booze-filled fun, the San Fermin Pamplona Festival comes to an end with an iconic closing ceremony known as “Pobre de Mi”, or Poor Me. Large crowds gather at Plaza Consistorial, lit candles in hand, to mourn the end of the San Fermin Festival while chanting the sad notes of “Pobre de Mi.” The atmosphere is both mournful and uplifting as the music changes tempo and people get excited about next year’s fiesta.
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