Festival of San Fermin (Running of the Bulls), Pamplona



Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” immortalizes the famous “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona, Spain.  The Festival of San Fermin begins on July 7 each year and legend has it that on the seventh day of the seventh month seven bulls got loose in the streets, killing seven men.  So of course the Spanish made a festival of it!  While I ran with the bulls many years ago as a college student who didn’t know what he was getting into, I remember it as wild, crazy and one of the more daring things I’ve ever done.

When I was there to run with the bulls, the soccer field in the center of Pamplona was converted into a big campsite with students from all over the world hanging out and sleeping under the stars.  We slept all day, partied all night and when they ran the bulls through the streets the first morning, I really had no idea what was going on.  That did not stop me from jumping over a street barrier and charging down the street after four bulls had run by.  Little did I know that three more bulls were coming.  People were yelling, screaming, jumping out of the way and running as fast as they could down one street that ended at the Pamplona bullring.  I ended up in the bullring and was trying to figure out what was happening when the several hundred people on the floor of the ring began to run, to the cheer of the crowd.  Turns out that they corral the bulls when they first enter the bullring and let them out so that whoever is crazy enough can play matador.  I found that you could dodge a bull, if you could see it. But with hundreds of people running around, you couldn’t always see the bull until the last minute.  After about a half hour of staying out of the way I heard the crowd gasp and there was a flurry of activity as they carried out one poor chap dripping with blood.  That was it, I had had enough.  For the next several days I confined myself to drinking beer and thanking my lucky stars that I hadn’t gotten trampled.   If you are looking for a wild party and a great deal of excitement – and you’re under 25 years of age – go to Pamplona, Spain the second week of July.