1) What is the San Fermin Festival?
The fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Iruna/Pamplona, in the region of Navarra. They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter as far as the bull ring by runners. The fiestas are celebrated in honor of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra, although the religious aspect would seem to have taken on a secondary role over the last number of years. Nowadays, the fiestas are seen as a mass gathering of people from all the corners of the world and where the partying, the fun and the joy of it all are the most outstanding ingredients.
2) Where is Pamplona? How do I get there?
Pamplona is about 50 miles from the Pyrenees Mountains and the Spanish-French border and around 250 miles north of Madrid. Pamplona has an airport with daily flights from Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon. Train travel from Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian are also very convenient to arrive in Pamplona. Please refer to www.renfe.com for information on Spain’s national train service.
3) When does the San Fermin Festival take place?
The dates of the San Fermin festival are the same every year, no matter the day of the week. The festival begins on July 6th and concludes on July 14th.
4) What’s the average age of Pamplona Tours clients?
Hard question to answer, but most of our clients are between the ages of 20-65. But it varies with each group. We’ve had guests that are 60+ years of age as well as kids with their families and college students. We don’t have an age limit; you just have to be ready to have a good time!
5) Where are the balconies located on the Bull Run?
We have multiple balconies, including our first one on Calle Estafeta 57 – it overlooks the longest stretch of the bull run route. It is easy to find because we will walk you from your hotel to our apartment where you will be served breakfast and have access to an open bar.
We also host guests at a balcony location located at the famous Dead Man’s Curve.
6) Does your balcony space fill up?
Yes! We accept only a small and exact number of people to watch from our balcony and share breakfast with us each morning. We want everyone to be able to see the run. Therefore, we suggest that you reserve your space as soon as possible.
7) Can I buy an extra day for a spot on the balcony?
Yes, all of our tours include a morning to watch the run on our Balcony.
8) Why is the opening weekend more expensive?
Regardless of the day of the week the festival begins, the first 48 hours of the San Fermin celebration will be the most attended and boisterous days of the week. Hotel rooms are in higher demand and acquired at higher rates. There is also a one-time event called the Chupinazo, which is an extremely popular event. We host an open house at our balcony to watch some of the debauchery during the opening day.
9) What happens at the Opening Ceremony (Chupinazo) on July 6th?
At 12:00 noon every July 6th, the square in front of the Town Hall witnesses chaos when the start of the San Fermín Fiesta is marked by a rocket launch. All morning, crowds pack in like sardines at the Plaza Ayuntamiento. The Mayor and members of the Council step out onto the balconies of the Town Hall to greet the crowds. There is an announcement: “Pamploneses, Pamplonesas, Viva San Fermin! Gora San Fermin!” (people of Pamplona, long live San Fermin!). The crowd responds with cries of “Viva!” and “Gora!” The square erupts as hundreds of bottles of champagne are uncorked and sprayed all over the crowd. During the day you can expect atmospheric singing, dancing, plenty of sangria and non-stop partying in the streets.
10) What made Pamplona Tours choose the hotel that is part of each package?
It’s been a fine tuned process that we believe is the best of both worlds. Hotels located within the party areas are often congested and sleep is hard to find. Our 4-Star hotel, the Tres Reyes, is located adjacent to the festivities, but far enough away that uninterrupted slumber is obtainable.
11) What is the drinking age?
18 years old.
12) Do we have to dress up in the traditional white attire & red accessories?
This is not just for the participants in the run; everyone is wearing this, male and female. The official San Fermin costume is a white shirt, white pants/skirt, a red sash, and a red neck-scarf.
13) Where can we purchase the attire?
There is a shop on every corner selling the traditional clothing articles.
14) How many people attend the San Fermin Festival?
Each year, the city hosts 1,000,000 participants over the week.
15) How many times do they do the Running of the Bulls?
There are 8 runs, beginning July 7th. Each run begins at 7 AM.
16) What are the bull fights like?
A traditional Spanish bull fight is part of your package, but we would like to set the correct expectation. The bulls do die during the fight, and the scene isn’t always well received by everyone. These events are deeply rooted in Spanish culture, and the crowd is traditionally boisterous and have a good time.
17) I don’t speak Spanish. Will this be a problem?
Unlikely, but we do have guides that are fluent to help with your planning and navigating through the city, especially ordering food!
18) What food is served at the San Fermin Festival?
Expect to eat a healthy dose of tapas, paella, and fish.
19) How is the bathroom situation during the festival?
With the increased population during the festival, the city brings in mobile restrooms that are stationed throughout the city.
20) What time do the daily festivities end?
This is a tricky question to give an exact answer considering the cars and clubs stay open all night. In regards to actual scheduled activities, the run begins at 8 AM and the night capping public fireworks are at 11 PM. There are concerts beginning at midnight each night on stages set up around the old town.
21) When should I buy my train ticket?
Train travel during the festival is extremely busy and we advise you book tickets in advance to ensure a seat. The train journey between Madrid and Pamplona is about 3 and ½ hours and is 4 hours by car. The train journey between Barcelona and Pamplona is about 6 hours. You can book your RENFE tickets 60 days in advance.
22) Is there really a Running of the Nudes?
Yup! The Running of the Nudes is held on the day before the official opening day of the festival. Traditionally there are a lot of animal rights activists who wear white underwear or thongs, red scarves, and plastic bullhorns as they protest the perceived animal cruelty of San Fermin.
23) Is it safe?
Yes, it is safe. But just like any travel/festival experience, be aware of your surroundings. Keep money is a safe place (not in your back pocket). Security is very present and visible throughout the festival.
24) What else happens during the San Fermin Festival?
Parade of Giants – held each morning with huge paper mache figures dancing and swirling in the streets Fire bull – or what appears to be a man in a steel drum covered in firecrackers, is let loose each evening to entertain young and old
Corrida – (bull fights) are held each evening from 6.30pm in the arena when three Matadors fight two bulls each Firework display – is put on each evening near the old Citadel at 11.00pm
Closing Ceremony – the locals gather in the main square, the Plaza de Castillo, to form a candlelight procession to the old church to bid farewell to the festivities for another year. It’s followed, of course, by yet another massive firework display!
25) What are some other local destinations in the area?
We traditionally have clients that arrive or depart from larger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, but the city we recommend in the area is San Sebastian. Located a mere 50 miles from Pamplona, the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian is a highly recommended destination during your trip to Spain. Beautiful beaches, incredible architecture and perhaps the best food in Europe, you can knock out this lovely location in a couple nights.