Click on the links below to get into the atmosphere of the bull running (images 360º)
- El Chupinazo
- Encierro 1
- Encierro 2
- Encierro 3
- Encierro 4
- Encierro 5
- Encierro 6
- Encierro 7


  2010 Festival Programme

The “Dianas” are well-known tunes played by the “Banda de Gaiteros” (Piper band) and “La Pamplonesa” (Pamplona’s official brass band) at day-break. The idea is to wake everyone up and announce the start of a new day of festivities. The bands gather at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square) and the Plaza de Toros (Bull Ring) to play local and traditional tunes as they go through all the streets of the old part of the city.

The route starts at the small cattle pen in the street of Santo Domingo, passing through the Plaza Consistorial (Town Hall Square) and the street of Mercaderes to reach the street of Estafeta and goes from there to the Plaza de Toros or Bull Ring. Originally, the bull running ended in the Plaza del Castillo (main square) and, in the past, there have been various routes to reach this square.  In 1856 the bull run took place along the street of Estafeta for the first time.

The route is 848 meters long, and the herd takes approximately four minutes to complete the run, with the bulls running at speeds of around 24 km/hour. The herd is made up of six bulls and eight Cabestros or oxen and then a further three oxen are sent out two minutes after the last bull in order to stay with and guide any stray bulls that may have broken away from the herd.
The bull running has its origins in medieval times when the herdsmen would bring the bulls for the bull fights across country from the pastures of the southern plains of La Ribera to the public square that had been prepared as a bull ring.

By the end of the 19th Century, instead of running behind the bulls, people began to run in front of them instead. So that, an activity that was initially to help the herdsmen with the bulls, became a peculiar and traditional custom that distinguishes the festival of San Fermin.

Minutes before the start of the bull run, at 7.55, 7.57 and 7.59 o’clock, the runners sing to an image of San Fermin located in a niche in a wall in the steep street of Santo Domingo where the run will begin. Although very recent, this act has already become a rite : A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición (We ask San Fermin, as our patron saint, to guide us in the bull run by giving us his blessing).

At 8.00 o’clock, after the eighth chime of the bells from the San Fermin church tower, the rocket is fired to indicate that the pen has been opened. Then a further rocket is fired to indicate that the bulls have left the pen. The third rocket indicates that all the bulls have reached the bull ring and, finally, the fourth rocket signals that the last bull has been entered the pens. To a large extent, the safety of the runners depends on these rockets being fired correctly and on time. There can be as many as 2.000 runners on a normal weekday and up to 3.500 at weekends.

The bull running can be seen from a balcony and there are owners who occasionally hire their balconies out; or else from the street itself, behind the wooden fencing – although, to get a good spot, it is necessary to be there some two hours before the bull running actually takes place, or else in the bull ring itself.

The ticket offices open at six o’clock in the morning, and tickets for any day may be obtained during opening hours.

After the bull run, small cows are let loose in the arena for the entertainment of the spectators. 

The Procession of the Giants and Bigheads (Gigantes y Cabezudos) is one of the most popular and well-attended spectacles of the San Fermin festival. The procession is made up of 25 paper mâché figures, composed of Giants, Big-heads and Kilikis (figures carrying a stick with a rope and sponge to hit spectators with) and Zaldikos (figures with a paper mâché horse).  

The eight Giants are almost four metres high and represent four of the five continents: Africa, Asia, America and Europe. They have been part of the festivals for the last century and a half and are almost as emblematic as the bull running itself, although many people are still not aware of them.

Every morning during the festival, they make their appearance at the bus station at 9.30 a.m., except on the 7th July when they start out at 9 o’clock.

They also frequently accompany the Pamplonesa Brass Band and the Municipal Procession in official acts, such as the Procession where they are to be found just ahead of the entourage. The first accounts of the participation of the Giants in the Pamplona festivals date back to the 11th Century. The current figures, four pairs, representing four of the continents, were made by the craftsman, Tadeo Amorena in 1850.

There is an entourage of Kilikis who are there to protect the Giants, and these figures surprise and startle the children with their gentle blows.

Caravinagre (Vinegar face), Napleón, Verrugón K (wart face), Barbas (Bearded), Patata (potato) and Coleta (Pony tail) are the six Kilikis, wearing three-cornered hats and carrying Vergas or sticks with a sponge attached to a rope at one end.

The Cabezudos or Big-heads are also part of the Giants’ entourage. They go ahead of the Giants, walking very seriously and do not dance.

The Procession also includes men dressed in vivid colours riding a paper mâché horse, with the shield of Pamplona stamped on the back part of the horse as an emblem. These are the six friendly and somewhat lazy Zaldikos who represent the King’s servers and who also carry the vergas or sticks with a rope and sponge.  

Place : Bull ring. Sale of tickets: From 10 a.m. onwards in the Bull Ring ticket window.


The “apartado” consists of separating each bull for the afternoon bull fight. There is first a draw to allocate the different bulls to the matadors. For this, the matadors’ seconds establish three lots in which the particular characteristics of each bull are considered.

Once the lots have been agreed upon, the numbers are put into the hat of a senior herdsman, and these numbers are then pulled out and the lots are awarded to each bull fighter in order of seniority. Once the draw has been carried out, the actual separation of the bulls takes place.

The bull separation in Pamplona is a particularly social occasion. Political personalities, artists, professionals and, of course, bull fighting fans, are all present at the bar, which is expressly prepared for the occasion.  

Although the program indicates that the departure is from the Town Hall Square, the horse riders, mules and music band actually meet up in the Mercado street.

From here they go to the Bull Ring parading through the streets of Mercaderes and Chapitela to the Plaza del Castillo or main square and then along the Espoz y Mina street.

The horse riders lead the way – dressed in black and wearing capes – followed by two groups of three mules with coloured ribbons and bells, with their mule drivers and accompanied by the La Pamplonesa brass band.

The Peñas or San Fermin social clubs complete the parade, with their own particular bands and, armed with abundant afternoon snacks, they take the fiesta to the seats in the Sun in the Bull Ring.  

With a seating capacity of 19,529,  the Pamplona Bull Ring is the second largest in Spain, and is only surpassed by the Las Ventas Ring in  Madrid

The Sun section, largely occupied by the Peñas or San Fermin social clubs, is a scene or anarchy and chaos, and the fight can even go unnoticed due to the celebrations going on there. Meanwhile, in the shade section, people are enjoying the fight. This contrast between the Sun and Shade in the Ring, make Pamplona bull fights unique.

Some 5.000 people from Pamplona belong to these social clubs and each club is distinguished by its smock, own particular hymn etc. With their large banners, and accompanied by bands of music, the Peñas go through the streets at the beginning and end of the fight, enlivening the fiestas. 
After the third bull, many Peñas leave their seats to eat the Merienda or afternoon snack in the porches around the Bull Ring.

As well as the Peñas from Pamplona, there are also numerous Peñas formed by bull fighting enthusiasts from abroad, such as Peñas from Sweden, Peña Borussia, la Querencia or the New York Bull Club.

If you haven’t been able to attend the bull fight, you could always dedicate part of the afternoon to visiting the bull enclosures where it is possible to see all the bulls to be fought during the coming bull fights held during the festivals. It is also possible to visit the enclosures in the mornings.

Any children accompanying adults are admitted free of charge.

Just before the start of the San Fermin festivals, the bulls that are to be fought during the bullfights are put into the enclosures called the “Corrales del Gas” in the district of La Rochapea.

Given the fact that the bull run starts at the foot of the steep street of Santo Domingo, the bulls need to be moved to the pen located in this street. The silent, anonymous, unknown run is known as the Encierillo or short run. It consists of taking the herd from the Corrales del Gas, located in La Rochapea, to the pen in Santo Domingo, from where the bull run will commence.

This movement of the herd is not open to the bull runners, and the bulls are only accompanied by the herdsmen. These proceedings can only be observed y obtaining special passes from the Town Hall or from balconies opposite the entrance to the Santo Domingo pen – next to the Navarre Museum.

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