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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

7 de julio – SAN FERMIN
Thursday, July 7, 2022 @ 8:46 AM

“Uno de enero, dos de febrero, tres de marzo, cuatro de abril,

Cinco de mayo, seis de junio, siete de julio, San Fermin.”


So begins the traditional song about the start of the Sanfermines, as this week-long festival in Pamplona, in Navarra, northern Spain, is known. There are many events but one of the most emblematic is el encierro ( bullrunning) which take place every morning, and the corridas de toros (bullfights) every afternoon at 5 pm.

Today is the 7 July and at 8 am a firework signalled the start of the encierro and six toros bravos for this afternoon’s corrida were set loose from the stables and ran through the streets to the plaza de toros half a mile away.

In front of these fierce beasts, accompanied by six oxen to keep them together, ran aficionados, drunks and young American males trying to show how macho they are.

The side streets are blocked off by wooden barriers to keep an enclosed channel for the runners and the bulls. But Pamplona is a working town, so the barriers have to be dismantled after the run and reassembled the following morning.

This work starts at 5.00 am, for there are 900 posts and 2700 planks or rails to be put in place.

Television Española (TVE) first broadcast the encierro in 1982 and this year they’ll be doing so again after a two-year interruption because of the pandemic.

In the run-up to the first encierro today, La 1 interviewed David, a regular sanferminero as the runners are known. He was badly gored in 2019 but is back again this year about to run. Is he crazy or what?

At 8 a rocket was fired and the six bulls accompanied by six oxen exited the corral and began their run to the bullring.

There seemed to be a thousand runners, most dressed in traditional white with red bandanas or head scarves, although there were probably only several hundred. I didn’t see any gorings but a good number fell and were trampled by bulls, oxen and other runners alike.

I have to say, I didn’t see any females taking part. I guess they’re far too sensible.

The American writer Ernest Hemingway was an aficionado a los toros (bullfight fan) and was often to be seen in Pamplona between 1923 and 1959. He did much to raise the profile of the Sanfermines outside of Spain, in particular through the description in his novel The Sun Also Rises and the reports he made as a journalist. 

The event is, of course, dangerous. Since 1925, 15 people have been killed during the event – most recently on July 10, 2009  - and every year between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run, although most injuries are contusions due to falls and are not serious.

Today´s encierro lasted 2 minutes and 35 seconds, faster than the average 3 minutes.


“A Pamplona hemos de ir

Con una media, con una media.

A Pamplona hemos de ir,

Con una media y un calcetín.”






Further reading:

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