Every July the strangest, but almost the oldest running, Fería in Spain, that of Saint Fermin, takes place in Pamplona. Every year thousands of revellers descend on the northern city to celebrate the Fiesta made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his novel Fiesta. The fiesta starts on July 6th at midday when the chupinazo (a rocket firework) is launched from the balcony of the town hall which marks the start of six days of mad celebration, drinking, eating and of course the running of the bulls. The run takes place every morning from 8.00 am when the gates of the Santa Domingo Corral are opened and the bulls make their way along the narrow streets through the fortress city behind a crowd of suicidal oficianados of the bull run and bull fight. . It takes a matter of barely three minutes to run the 825 meters to the bull ring. The familiar sight of people dressed in the ‘uniform’ of the fiesta, white trousers and shirts and of course the red bandanas is everywhere.
But it is dangerous fun! This year only one man died and that was from suffocation but many get injured by trampling or goring. Since records began in 1910 only 16 people have been killed but there are always hundreds injured.
Although the fiesta dates back to the 14th Century it is recorded that the running of the bulls started in 1776. It has it’s roots in the fact it was the way the butchers and cattle mongers would lead the bulls from the ports to the corrals. Each day, in the Fería, only six bulls with six ‘tame’ oxen take part in the run and they are the ones that feature in the bullring later in the day.