Experience Pamplona
Pamplona, Spain . July 5-15, 2020
Chris Johnston

Awesome time in Pamplona with an amazing team from Bucket List. We highly recommend Toby and his team.

Chris Johnston
Chris Johnston

Awesome time in Pamplona with an amazing team from Bucket List. We highly recommend Toby and his team.

Chris Johnston

Frequently asked questions about Running of the Bulls

This ain’t our first time running with the bulls. After over a decade of tours, we’ve learned a thing or two about Pamplona, San Fermin, and how to have the best trip ever. Here’s everything you need to know.

 What is the Running of the Bulls? What is the San Fermin Festival?

There is no difference between the Running of the Bulls and the San Fermin Festival. The international, English name of the festival is Running of the Bulls. The official Spanish name is Sanfermin (all one word). We refer to it here as San Fermin Festival for clarity.

The actual, physical running of the bulls on the streets starts on the second day of the San Fermin Festival. The bulls run eight days in a row, from July 7th to July 14th.

The first day of the festival is Chupinazo – the opening ceremonies, so no bulls will run on that day, but you may be running form your friends trying to soak  you in wine.

The fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Iruña/Pamplona, in the region of Navarra. They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter as far as the bull ring by runners.

The fiestas are celebrated in honor of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra, although the religious aspect would seem to have taken on a secondary role over the last number of years. 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.

 

 Where is Pamplona? How do I get there?

Pamplona is about 50 miles from the Pyrenees Mountains and the Spanish-French border and around 250 miles north of Madrid. Pamplona has an airport with daily flights from Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon. Train travel from Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian are also very convenient to arrive in Pamplona.

Please refer to www.renfe.com for information on Spain’s national train service.

 

 When is Running of the Bulls?

Pamplona Walking Tour

The Running of the Bulls is July 6 – 14th in Pamplona, Spain.  The dates of the Running of the Bulls and San Fermin Festival are the same every year, no matter the day of the week. The festival begins on July 6th and concludes on July 14th.

 What’s the average age of Bucket List Events clients?

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Hard question to answer, but most of our clients are between the ages of 20-65. But it varies with each group. We’ve had guests that are 60+ years of age as well as kids with their families and college students. We don’t have an age limit; you just have to be ready to have a good time!

 

 Where are the Bucket List Events balconies located on the Bull Run?

Our main balcony is located on Calle Estafeta 57 – it overlooks the longest stretch of the bull run route. It is easy to find because we will walk you from your hotel to our apartment where you will be served breakfast and have access to tasty drinks.

We also have 2-3 other balconies every year, check out our Running of the Bulls balconies page for full details.

 

 Does your balcony space fill up?

Yes! We accept only a small and exact number of people to watch from our balcony and share breakfast with us each morning. We want everyone to be able to see the run easily. Therefore, we suggest that you reserve your space as soon as possible.

 Can I buy an extra day for a spot on the balcony?

Yes, all of our tours include one morning to watch the run on our Balcony, and additional mornings on the balcony can be purchased based on availability. Package clients can purchase these at a discounted rate, just ask!   Click here to check out more about the views and info on our VIP balcony.

 

 Why is the opening weekend more expensive?

Chupinazo Stretch

Regardless of the day of the week the festival begins, the first 48 hours of the San Fermin celebration will be the most attended and boisterous days of the week. Hotel rooms are in higher demand and acquired at higher rates.

There is also a one-time event called the Chupinazo, which is an extremely popular event. We host an open house at our balcony to watch some of the debauchery during the opening day.

 What happens at the Opening Ceremony (Chupinazo) on July 6th?

Running of the Bulls in Pamplona

At 12:00 noon every July 6th, the square in front of the Town Hall witnesses chaos when the start of the San Fermín Fiesta is marked by a rocket launch.

All morning, crowds pack in like sardines at the Plaza Ayuntamiento. The Mayor and members of the Council step out onto the balconies of the Town Hall to greet the crowds.

There is an announcement: “Pamploneses, Pamplonesas, Viva San Fermin! Gora San Fermin!” (people of Pamplona, long live San Fermin!). The crowd responds with cries of “Viva!” and “Gora!”

The square erupts as hundreds of bottles of champagne are uncorked and sprayed all over the crowd. During the day you can expect atmospheric singing, dancing, plenty of sangria and non-stop partying in the streets.

By non-stop, we mean non-stop. At any point, the streets are filled with partiers of all ages, depending on the time of day.

This festival makes Bourbon Street in New Orleans look like an afternoon tea party.

 What made Bucket List Events choose the hotel that is part of each package?

Pamplona parties hard during San Fermin, so a bit of distance is a good thing.

It’s been a fine tuned process that we believe is the best of both worlds. Hotels located within the party areas are often congested and sleep is hard to find.

Our 4-Star hotel, the AC Cuidad, is a Marriott property located less than a mile away from the heart of the festivities, but far enough away that uninterrupted slumber is obtainable.

 What is the drinking age in Spain?

Spanish Wine during Running of the Bulls

The drinking age in Spain is 16 years old. Cheers!

Do we have to dress up in the traditional white attire and red accessories?

This is not just for the participants in the run; everyone is wearing this, male and female. The official San Fermin costume is a white shirt, white pants/skirt, a red sash, and a red neck-scarf.

We’ll tell you now, but remind you later that the official way to wear the red waist sash is on the left side of your body, if you wear it on the right the locals will know you’re a tourist!

 Where can we purchase the attire?

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There is a shop on every corner selling the traditional clothing articles.

That being said, it’s easier to bring a few pairs of plain white shirts and white pants. Assume they’ll get dirty daily, so have a fresh pair ready to go!

 How many people attend the San Fermin Festival?

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Each year Pamplona hosts 1,000,000 participants over the course of the San Fermin Festival.

 How many times do they do the Running of the Bulls?

There are 8 bull runs during San Fermin, beginning July 7th and concluding on July 14th. Each run begins at 8 AM.

 What are the bull fights like?

Crowds at running of the bulls in pamplona spain

A traditional Spanish bull fight is part of your package, but we would like to set the correct expectation. The bulls do die during the fight, and the scene isn’t always well received by everyone. These events are deeply rooted in Spanish culture, and the crowd is traditionally boisterous and have a good time.

I don’t speak Spanish. Will this be a problem?

Unlikely, but we do have guides that are fluent to help with your planning and navigating through the city, especially ordering food!

For some people the lack of language is no problem; but for others it is.

In Pamplona, people speak Spanish and Basque, but most haven’t got much further than that. Don’t expect to have any profound conversations with the locals in any other language.

If you want to converse with them it helps to have at least a basic understanding of Spanish. And the advantage is that you can get a much better idea of what’s going on around you. If you can’t speak to them, you’ll still have a great time at the Fiesta, but it probably means that you are going to be spending a lot of your time in the “ghetto” with other foreigners!

What food is served at the San Fermin Festival?

Spanish cuisine served during the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona

Expect to eat a healthy dose of tapas, paella, and fish while in Pamplona. Spain has amazing food, and it’s a strong part of the culture to make delicious food available almost anywhere.

 How is the bathroom situation during the festival?

Taking in the evening fireworks

With the increased population during the festival, the city brings in mobile restrooms that are stationed throughout the city. When you’re at one of our balconies of course there will be restrooms, but when you’re on the streets you’ll want to duck into a bar or restaurant or public mobile restroom.

 What time do the daily festivities end?

This is a tricky question to give an exact answer considering the cars and clubs stay open all night. In regards to actual scheduled activities, the run begins at 8 AM and the night capping public fireworks are at 11 PM. There are concerts beginning at midnight each night on stages set up around the old town.

 When should I buy my train ticket?

Train travel during the festival is extremely busy and we advise you book tickets in advance to ensure a seat. The train journey between Madrid and Pamplona is about 3 and ½ hours and is 4 hours by car. The train journey between Barcelona and Pamplona is about 6 hours. You can book your RENFE tickets 60 days in advance.

 Is there really a Running of the Nudes?

Peta Protests the Running of the Bulls

Yup! The Running of the Nudes is held on the day before the official opening day of the festival. Traditionally there are a lot of animal rights activists who wear white underwear or thongs, red scarves, and plastic bullhorns as they protest the perceived animal cruelty of San Fermin

 Is Pamplona safe?

Running of the Bulls

Yes, Pamplona is a very safe city. But just like any travel or festival experience, be aware of your surroundings. Keep money in a safe place (not in your back pocket). Security is very present and visible throughout the festival, but you should always be careful in unknown surroundings.

 What else happens during the San Fermin Festival?

San Sebastian

  • Parade of Giants – held each morning with huge paper mache figures dancing and swirling in the streets
  • Fire bull – or what appears to be a man in a steel drum covered in firecrackers, is let loose each evening to entertain young and old
  • Corrida – (bull fights) are held each evening at 6:30 PM in the arena when three Matadors fight two bulls each
  • Fireworks display – is put on each evening near the old Citadel at 11:00 PM
  • Closing Ceremony – the locals gather in the main square, the Plaza de Castillo, to form a candlelight procession to the old church to bid farewell to the festivities for another year. It’s followed, of course, by yet another massive firework display!

 

 What is the bar and night-life scene in Pamplona?

pamplona bars

Bars and nightlife might seem to be the only thing that exists in Pamplona if you show up in the city right in the middle of San Fermin. They say that Pamplona has more bars than Bangkok! While it has to be admitted that the bars are frequented regularly by the locals all through the year, San Fermines definitely provides an opportunity to have their cash cow. So if you’re into drinking, Pamplona will please you to no end. But please be courteous and don’t destroy or vandalize the bars as foreigners are doing more and more every year.

 

 What is the Pamplona weather like?

pamplona weather

Summer in Pamplona tends to be hot and dry. But a torrential downpour can occur on occasion as well. Pack accordingly. Most of the days it’s pretty hot while it cools a bit at night.
One day, you’ll be wanting to take all your clothes off (because it’s hot, not because you’ve had too much sangria). The next day you might be cursing yourself for not bringing a jacket.

 What is the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela?

Pilgrimage to santo domingo

The symbol of Camino de Santiago

Since the ninth century, more than a million people have made the pilgrimage to the Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral in the northwest corner of Spain, where the bones of St. James are said to have been discovered. Pamplona is the first city that the pilgrim’s route passes through on the road to Compostela and many pilgrims can be seen making the trek through Pamplona. The city also has its share of religious sites to see including a Gothic bridge and cathedral. The city of Pamplona’s tourist website has a full listing of these religious sites if you’re interested in some Pilgrim and church sightseeing.

These scalloped shells are seen around Pamplona on the sidewalks and streets, guiding the pilgrims on their route to Santiago de Compostela.

 What are some other local destinations in the area?

We traditionally have clients that arrive or depart from larger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, but the city we recommend in the area is San Sebastian.

Located a mere 50 miles from Pamplona, the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian is a highly recommended destination during your trip to Spain. Beautiful beaches, incredible architecture and perhaps the best food in Europe, you can knock out this lovely location in a day or less.

We could not have been more impressed with Bucket List Events during the Running of the Bulls this past summer. Toby and his staff were exceptional. They were knowledgeable, accommodating, fun, and very inclusive. It was an unforgettable experience, with great memories and great people to share it with. I will look forward to checking more items off my Bucket List with this company!!

Brian Forsythe , 2019 Pamplona Client