Dangers in Pamplona at the San Fermin Festival

San Fermin ranks among the world’s biggest and most exciting festivals – and is truly a “bucket list” experience that shouldn’t be missed! Any place there are massive crowds and a raucous party atmosphere invite the usual hazards of pickpockets and petty theft, and Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls® is no different.

Dangers in Pamplona during San Fermin

As festival-goers douse themselves in copious quantities of red wine and sangria, inhibitions quickly disappear, making easy targets for petty thieves.

While there are dangers in Pamplona during the festivities, this shouldn’t discourage you from attending. Pamplona is generally a very safe city, and as long as you take precautions and act prudently, you will enjoy the bull-running festival.

Pickpockets in Pamplona

Pamplona is notorious for being filled with opportunistic pickpockets during the San Fermin fiestas. Whenever you have thousands of festival-goers crammed into tight places, like the opening ceremony at Town Hall Square, petty thieves find it easy to invade your personal space. Pickpockets seek out unsuspecting tourists who did not have the foresight to leave their valuables at their hotel. One of the easiest ways to avoid being pickpocketed in Pamplona is to leave all non-essential items behind; this includes credit cards, jewelry and other valuables.

We recommend that you only carry small amounts of cash – what you will need for the day—and store it safely in a money belt that is concealed under your clothing. Avoid using wallets or bulky purses that stand out. Pickpockets cannot steal what you are not carrying with you. Make copies of your passport and other travel documents but store the originals in your hostel or hotel safe. Do not wear expensive watches, as they are easy for professional pickpockets to steal.

Lastly, be extra alert when standing among or walking through large crowds, since this is where pickpockets are most commonly working.

No Cameras

If you have a nice camera and don’t want it to end up soggy or ruined, it’s best not to take it to the Txupinazo at Town Hall Square where spectators can be drenched by spilled water or wine. However, if you’re in one of our VIP balconies, you won’t have to worry about that risk!

Nor is it advisable to take a camera to the bullfights, especially if you are on the sunny side of the stadium. Most bullfight attendees on this side are younger and celebrate wildly with sangria and Kalimotxo that get spilled upon neighbors.

If you are planning on running with the bulls, please note that cameras and video devices are strictly prohibited and may be confiscated by police.

How dangerous is the Pamplona bull run?

Is the Pamplona bull run dangerous? Yes, the risk of death is exactly why people choose to do it. It is not safe at all. There is an inherent risk of trampling, goring and other severe injuries for those who decide to participate in the San Fermin encierros. Every year, dozens of runners require medical attention after racing through the streets in front of half-ton beasts. Wine and local spirits are a key part of the week-long festivities, but participants are not allowed to run while intoxicated.

Binge drinking

San Fermin is a fiesta renowned for round-the-clock partying and plenty of libations – be it sangria, wine or Kalimotxo – (the local specialty that combines red wine and coke).

As with any celebration involving alcohol, we recommend that you enjoy responsibly. Also, you are likely to celebrate on multiple occasions since the festival lasts nine days. Whoever said “wine before beer you are in the clear” may have forgotten the fact that wine plus any other alcohol may not be the best course of action. Know your limits and keep your wits about you for a safe and enjoyable time.

How to avoid Pamplona bull run dangers: safety tips

While Pamplona is a safe city, you should follow the same precautions you would, even in your hometown. If you are walking alone late at night, it’s best to use the main streets, which are always full of people and avoid remote or isolated areas.

Broken glass is another hazard to watch out for during the San Fermin fiesta. Pamplona has an excellent public cleaning system, and the bars serve drinks in plastic cups but there are always bottles on the floor, especially during the Txupinazo. Please watch where you step, wear closed-toe shoes and leave your flip-flops at home.

Read on for more Pamplona travel tips to make the most of your experience at the Running of the Bulls.