Riau-Riau Pamplona

Riau-Riau Traditional Dance

Pamplona’s most famous fiesta holds many surprises for visiting revelers, providing insight into the culture and religious conventions of the people.  In earlier years, the Riau-Riau dance was a sanctioned part of the San Fermin Festival, which grips virtually the whole of Spain for nine raucous days every summer. Though not on the official program, the Riau-Riau Pamplona procession takes place on the festival’s opening day, July 6th, following El Chupinazo.

Historically, Pamplona political councilors would march from City Hall – joined by hundreds of local residents – some 500 meters to the Church of San Lorenzo that is dedicated to Saint Fermin. Along the way, the masses would march slowly to the rhythm and sing aloud to the tune of the Astrain Waltz, chanting “riau-riau” with the chorus. The Riau-Riau tradition began in 1914 and continued as an official Sam Fermin event through the mid-90’s. It was periodically suspended due to problems with crowd control and protestors blocking the streets but has since been reinstated to the immense joy of Pamploneses and festival-goers.

San Fermin Pamplona

For now, the Riau-Riau tradition continues to be an integral although unofficial facet of the San Fermin fiesta. As the crowds grow larger each year, this animated procession can take hours to slowly crawl through the streets of Pamplona.

Get the inside scoop on other exciting events during the San Fermin Festival, from the rocket blasts of El Chupinazo to the venerable Saint Fermin Procession. For more information or travel advice, reach out to our Pamplona travel experts at The Running of the Bulls®.