Adrenalin Pumping Pamplona Bull Run

Adrenalin Pumping Pamplona

Author: Alvin Toffler

Pamplona is the capital city of Navarre province, having a similar size as Mississauga with a population of 250,000; but this figure triples during the San Fermin festival.

Overview of Lifestyle

At Pamplona’s south-western side lies Rioja, a charming small province in Spain’s wine region at the north. It is unfazed by tourism with its routes teeming with vines that provide superb red wines for your tasting.

Time goes on at its own pace with the Spanish as they move about their daily chores without any rush. Business hours are not adhered to strictly and siestas are a must and a norm, which sets the town in absolute quiet during these times. But the town is alive and bustling with activity right after the sun sets, giving it a total transformation from the afternoon scenario.

The Navarre province displays a rugged Basque landscape with the local inhabitants holding strongly onto their culture and language, being an ancient civilization.

Bull Run Event

The most exciting event happening at Pamplona is when the bulls are released to run through the streets, watched by hundreds of people, from far and near, old and young, wise or daring. This festival is a religious one that is held in honor of a saint, Saint Fermin, from July 6 until July 14. Usually 12 bulls are released to run through the streets every morning. There is also usually an opening ceremony which is very much like a rock concert cum champagne fight, with a World Cup soccer match flavor.

The event begins as early as eight in the morning with an already huge crowd plying the sidewalks of the designated streets. But the more daring, with about 3,500 of them, known as runners, will experience the time of their lives running alongside these half-ton beasts along Pamplona’s medieval streets which are long and narrow.

These runs are a reflection of the region’s medieval times when the region’s herdsmen had to drive their bulls to the bull rings through the city streets, as bullfighting is a long Spanish tradition. This event has been made so famous that even Hemingway described it in great detail in his book ‘The Sun Also Rises’.

Although many prefer to watch from a safe distance or stay by the sidelines, many young and bold run with the bulls; they are known as ‘runners.’ It is a dangerous as well as an exhilarating experience for the runner. The route is carefully set with protective fencing twice over but this does not rule out the fear and trepidation as the rocket cracks to announce the opening of the gates to release the bulls.

Safety personnel such as ambulances, police and medical staff stand alert at their positions for any incidents that occur during the runs.

Yells, screams and shouts reach a high pitch with the crowds surging forward and then parting ways as they see the beasts approaching. A bull can weigh no less than 1,200 pounds, and reach as high as your shoulders even with their heads bowed. It may seem a short run but with the adrenalin flowing high, it is an electrifying experience of a lifetime.

Besides these bull runs, the streets are filled with families and children enjoying the parades, processions and dancing. This festival certainly binds the friendships of many at that time as everyone is united to celebrate these joyous festivities. The great hospitality of the locals enhances the visitor’s experience.

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