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Travel Diaries | San Fermin Festival in Pamplona

After a little research online, it is said that the San Fermin festival goes as far back as 1591 - when the festival was moved to the month of July, because the people of Pamplona wanted nicer weather for the event. It used to last only 2 days but now goes from the 6-14th of July every year in Pamplona. So perhaps my blog post about the festival will be a slightly more modern take on this traditional celebration. I attended on Saturday the 9th during the festival -  when Pamplona was at it's busiest and hottest. I went along with the BeMadrid travel agency which was 35 € round trip on bus and I had the most amazing, unique experience!


Now, I won't go too much into the history of the festival or why it came about because Google has all the answers to that. However, i've bought 'The sun also rises' by Ernest Hemingway which is all about San Fermin and the bullfighting, to inform myself a little better on the festival - so I would recommend that book too if you're intrigued.

In short, it is one big huge, all day long party. In fact, it's one of the biggest fiestas in the world, that you should attend at least once in your lifetime. There was a sense of togetherness even though you didn't know anyone - everyone is dressed in the same red and white uniform - most people sporting a red scarf around their neck with the Pamplona emblem on it. There's a chance you will end up with Sangria all over your clothes or you will at least come across people with their white-turned-pink clothes. 


I'm not sure what time some people had begun drinking from, but there is no correct time -  you can literally start whenever you want and take a siesta on a street/park/bench whenever you feel like it. Then, wake up, and start all over again. 

Pamplona was filled with many things to do during the day and night. There were market stalls selling souvenirs, San Fermin t-shirts, food and so on. Once you ventured into the narrow streets of the town, there were bars wide open to the outdoors with people partying inside like it was 3am, marching bands, clubs in open air tents - plenty to get involved in and keep you occupied. Long tables of families and friends dining 'al fresco' outside their houses was quite the norm too.


This festival isn't for the faint hearted - it's extremely packed and noisy with drunk people everywhere but it was honestly one of the most fun things I got to witness and experience. 

We were in Pamplona from 2pm but hadn't booked any hotel/hostel (recommended to book waaay in advance, or bring a tent). So me and my friend slept in a park, which a lot of people did, and as dangerous as that sounds, it really wasn't but I wouldn't recommend it. I slept about 1 hour and woke up due to the cold and people still partying at 7am. It's a relatively safe festival but just keep your wits about you as you would on any night out.


The lovely people over at the BeMadrid agency had a whole map and plan set out for us, telling us when and where things were going on in the town throughout the day and night. Later in the evening, there was a carnival, firework display and concerts/outdoor clubs right through till morning. So, though  staying up 24 hours is hard, it's only one day in your life and there is plenty to do to keep you up and partying till the early hours.



The bull run begins at 8am and is recommended you go and find a good spot to view it from about 6am, which yes does mean waiting 2 hours, hungover and tired, to see people running away from bulls, which lasts about 2 seconds max. 

However, the atmosphere is crazy and unlike anything else i've ever seen. Though I do not condone what happens to the bulls in the bullfights, I was curious to experience this weird and wonderful tradition that brings all nationalities and people of all ages together in one city. I really enjoyed it and the experience will stay with me forever. 

The next day the streets were the dirtiest i've ever seen and the smelliest i've ever...smelt. I felt like I hadn't showered for a week and felt like I hadn't slept for that long either. Though I wouldn't change it and I would do it all over again!

I found a really interesting article about the San Fermin which you can check out by clicking here. It probably does a better job of explaining the festival than I did.
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