San Fermines: Going your own way

By Sergio González | 11:19

A few things in life claim adventure as Ernest Hemingway did himself. The audacious modernist American author was known to live life to its fullest and, luckily for us, he left his impressions of  his thrilling experiencies in several master pieces for us to enjoy.“The Sun Also Rises” (published in London as “Fiesta”) tells the story of a bunch of Americans and Brits who go to Pamplona, a St. James Way milestone in Northern Spain, to watch bullfights and the running of bulls. After this paper was brought forth in the 1920’s, the interest for San Fermines, the festivals held in Pamplona during July honoring patron saint San Fermín, has done nothing but increase year after year, dragging thousands of visitors from Europe and the USA but also from the distant Australia and New Zealand. San Fermines is supposed to be, among Mardi Gras and Rio Carnival, one the craziest, funniest, do-as-you-like festivals in the world.

July 6th 11:59 a.m. Pamplona Town Hall Square. The place is filled up with heterogenous people of all ages dancing, chanting to raise the mood even higher and passing kalimotxo -a local drink made with wine and coke- and wineskins from hand to hand, making strangers become aquaitances, and then, friends. Everybody is holding their breath as noon, the moment to launch El Txupinazo – a small rocket that sets off the party-, is about to be. After its explosion in the sky, the frenzy begins. Wine and champagne are uncorked and thrown in the air staining the customary white and red outfits of Pamploneses – do not even dream of keeping yourself spotless, “if you are not stained, you are not having fun”. Charangas – local folk music bands- start leading people around the streets to a Fiesta that won’t stop until 14th of July.

The Sanfermines Festivals will extend for 9 days and even if you are a party expert, being able to finish them properly won’t be easy. Here are some local tips:

The running of the bulls is something worth seeing – better behind the wooden barrera or from a rented balcony if  you can afford it; take into account that people start flocking to the running streets at 6 a.m., a couple of hours before the release of the animals. If you want to run, do it straight, wear tight clothes and please, do not drink that night. Don’t even touch the bulls – you’ll be fined- and if you fall, keep still on the floor until the herd is way ahead of you. Ask the locals for further advice, they will be really helpful!

Pamplona barely reaches 200.000 residents but during the festivals it receives thousands of people. Supermarkets run out of alcohol and empty cash dispensers will look back at you begging for a rest. Plan your needs beforehand and consider arriving one day earlier.

Behave properly; social manners are relaxed during these days but not forgotten. Remember it’s not the jungle, avoid ending up in trouble. In case of doubt: “when in Rome, do as the romans do – just skip the bacchanal thing”

Last piece of advice: Have crazy fun!!!


There are several places to stay in Pamplona during these days but if you don’t want to end up sleeping in a roundabout – trust me, it’s not just something to say, you’ll actually see people napping on the streets- you’d better be booking in advance. NH has three perfect hotels – NH Iruña Park, NH El Toro and NH Agustinos – to help you recover from your hangovers and exhausted feet. For me, NH El Toro is the perfect choice, not only because the environment is so bull-centered –toro means bull in Spanish- and the rustic decor will link you to  Hemingway’s best-seller, but because it’s set in a beautiful landscape 3 miles away from city centre, so your rest won’t be disturbed from early sanfermineros and its dianas – mediaeval music played on the streets with whistles  and bagpipes at 7:00 a.m.

One interesting fact if you don’t like crowds. Every year, the closest weekend to 25th September the Sanfermines Txikitos Festival– small Sanfermines – is held in the old quarter of Pamplona. A tiny but lively version of the the great summer fiesta with all the ingredients of his older brother but hardly known outisde. And if you are not to cross the pond, have a look at Nolabulls, the passionate homage paid in New Orleans to Sanfermines.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Xavi Talleda

  • posted by The enjoyable events | 24 October 2013, 15:27,

    “Sanfermines Festivals” is very enjoyable for for every spanish. This year I was there and I enjoyed mostly the bull run. It was awesome!

  • posted by Nydia from Soria | 03 November 2013, 5:06,

    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.

  • posted by Courtney Imel | 05 November 2013, 15:44,

    Thanks for the comment! It sure is a great festival! Have you ever been? 😉

  • posted by sancho ramírez | 17 November 2013, 17:42,

    Nydia, Sanfermines Festivals is very joyful but it is too dangerous. Nowadays 72 per cent of Spanish are just not interested in watching sadists killing bulls so I think day by day bullfig is falling down its popularity.


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