Running of the Bulls

Running With the Bulls
Running With the Bulls  Image: Baltasar García (wiki)

Running of the Bulls 2023 why most people know about the lovely Navarre town of Pamplona, Spain. Few people know much about the saint who was the inspiration for this odd event or that the Fiesta de San Fermin celebrations honoring him are part of an important religious festival celebrated throughout the Navarre region (of which Pamplona is the capital) as well as in Amiens in France.

Running of the Bulls History and Facts

Running of the Bulls
Running of the Bulls

Bullfighting has a long history, dating back to veneration of the animal in ancient Greece. It is a traditional sporting spectacle in Spain, Portugal, southern France, and many Latin American countries. Bullfighting as a spectator sport in Pamplona dates to about the eighth century.

The Running of the Bulls
The Running of the Bulls  Image: Baltasar García (wiki)

The spectacle of the Running of the Bulls 2023 in Pamplona dates to about 1385 when the bulls used in the fight were driven through town to the bullring, and young daredevil boys would dash in front of them. In 1591, the city's three important summer events—the traditional bullfighting festival, the livestock fair, and the Fiesta de San Fermin—were combined and are still celebrated for a week beginning on July 6. In 1776, a fence was constructed along the route to make the bull running safer for spectators. The tradition of Running with the Bulls remained a fairly regional phenomenon until the town's most famous visitor, Ernest Hemingway, published his novel The Sun Also Rises in 1926. Since then, it has become an internationally famous event, regularly appearing on news broadcasts around the world.

Running of the Bulls Location and Route

Running of the Bulls Injuries
Running of the Bulls Injuries  Image: Baltasar García (wiki)

Today, the route is more than 2,700 feet in length, and runs a zigzag route through the city to the bullring. It lasts only for approximately three minutes. Anyone can participate in the Running of the Bulls 2023 so long as they are over the age of eighteen. You may not climb over the fence to run for only a portion of the route. If you want to participate, you must show up by 7:30 a.m. at the Cuesta de Santo Domingo. This is an avenue running alongside the course of the Arga River in the center of the city. Many streets around this area will be closed off, so the only way to get here is to walk. You will not be allowed in after that time. There are some common sense rules: you can't run if drunk or otherwise incapacitated; don't carry cameras or other gear that will impede your running; wear appropriate footwear; don't grab, harass, or otherwise distract the animals. Rules to make the spectacle more exciting for spectators include no hiding behind obstacles, in dead ends, or doorways before the bulls are released (you are allowed to take advantage of this protection once the running has begun). Finally, you must wear traditional San Fermin costume—white shirt, white pants or skirt, and red neck scarf.

Show up on July 5, the day before the festival begins, and you can participate or watch the "Running of the Nudes," organized by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to protest both the run and bullfighting in general.

Running of the Bulls Tickets

Pamplona Running of the Bulls
Pamplona Running of the Bulls  Image: Bernard bill5 (wiki), CC BY-SA 3.0

The Running of the Bulls 2023 occurs every morning of the festival, beginning on July 7. It doesn't cost anything to run or to watch. To run, just show up sober and dressed correctly at the right place at the right time. Study the map of the route, and be prepared to start camping out in that spot the night before; you might do to watch famous parades like the Netherlands Flower Parade or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

As with the Monaco Grand Prix, some private homes, restaurants, and hotels will have excellent viewpoints on balconies over the street. You will generally have to pay something for access to some of these prime-viewing places. On some mornings after the running, you can enter the bullring (Spain's second largest after the one in Madrid) free to watch the endeavors of student bullfighters. Tickets for the evening bullfights sell out months, if not years in advance. A good percentage of the seats are reserved for season ticket holders, and the "sold out" sign has hung outside the bullring every day since July 1967. Those runners who have made it the to the end are allowed into the ring for free.

Running of the Bulls Lodging Near

Fiesta de San Fermin
Fiesta de San Fermin  Image: Abeeeer (flickr)

Fiesta de San Fermin events occur throughout the city, and there are many Pamplona Spain hotels within walking distance. One of the finest of these is the five star Gran Hotel la Perla, located at No 1 Plaza Castillo in the heart of the city. It lies right along the route for the Running of the Bulls, and is sold out months before the festival. Most hotels in the city center are heavily booked for the festival, so it pays to make your arrangements as far in advance as possible.

Top image: Asier Solana Bermejo (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0

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