San Fermin, a MUST for your Year Abroad in Spain

San Fermin running in front of the bulls is definitely the most famous Spanish festivity all around the world. Probably Hemingway’s book Fiesta (The Sun also Rises) has attracted many adventurers who want to follow the writer’s steps (who wouldn’t?!) But this festivity has more things to offer that the ‘encierro’, which only lasts about 3 minutes.

So put on your white clothes, get a red scarf (this is the dress code) and prepare to live one of the most exciting weeks of your life!

Let’s start from the beginning… What is san Fermin?

Many people might not know it but San Fermin is originally a religious ceremony to honor San Fermin, a third century saint that was born in Pamplona and was martyred for his insistence on preaching the Gospel. His relics are kept in San Lorenzo Chapel and on the 7th of July, his feast day, his image is taken out in procession.

However, this is the only part of the festivity that takes place around religion. The ‘real fiesta’ starts at 12 a.m. on the 6th of July with ‘El Chupinazo’. It consists in a rocket being launched from the city hall to which the crowd responds pulling up their red scarfs while shouting ‘Viva san fermin!’. This is the beginning of a sleepless week of eating, drinking and partying.

During this week there are two events that are constant every day, the ‘encierro (running of the bulls) which starts at 8 a.m. and lasts around 3 minutes and the corrida(bullfighting) that takes place at 6.30 p.m. Actually, they are interrelated since the ‘encierro’ appear as the necessity to bring the bulls to the ‘Plaza’ across the city. Then some locals have the original idea to throw themselves in front of the bulls and run (crazy people!).

Apart from the bulls there are other events that take place during this week. For instance, the Gigantes y Cabezudos (Big Head) Parade takes place at 9.30  a.m., where figures make out of fabric, wood and carton walk around the street accompanied by the ‘Comparsa’ who is in charge of the music. There are also fireworks, which are held every day at 23 p.m. and bring the best from Valencia, Italy, etc. to participate in a contest.

Gigantes y cabezones

Another important event is the Riau-Riau, an unofficial part of the celebration where everybody concentrates in the City Hall square and dance a vals called “La Alegría por San Fermín”. This tradition started with the intention to block the way to the police.

The Pamploneses celebrate San Fermin with their “Peñas”, a social club to which they devote loyalty. They wear the colors of the Peña, they go to the bullfighting with the Peña, and they party with the Peña.

On the 14th at 12 o’clock the festivity ends and everybody get together to sing ‘Pobre de mi’ (Poor of me, poor of me, san Fermin is over). People get back to their houses, the next day they will go back to their normal lives and San Fermin will only be present in their memories. The countdown starts again…. See you next year in San Fermin!


Spain is a great country full of traditions and festivities. Choose it as your destination to study abroad and you will be able to discover all of them! You can find you accommodation in Spain easily in our platform


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