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Fiesta facts
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I have gotten a lot of email from people looking for answers to questions about the fiesta so I thougt I would just post something for all of you thinking about going to pamplona this summer. Hope you find some of this info helpful.

The fiesta is always the same dates july 6th-14th. The Chupinazo is at noon on the 6th in front of the Ayuntamiento (the Town Hall) just around the corner from Plaza Castillo. Plaza castillo is basically the heart of the fiesta. It is hard to get into pamplona in time for the opening ceremony unless you arrive on the 5th. It can be done but transportation is the biggest problem to be able to get in town in time.

The Chupinazo is a unique experience. I did it once and that was enough for me. First there are thousands of people trying to push their way into the square. Once you are in there, there is no getting out until the rockets have gone off. It is a huge food fight, eggs, flour, mustard, catsup, people spraying champgne. There are broken bottles all over the ground. The best way to describe this is it is like a giant Mosh Pit. The crowd pushes and sways and you have to just go along with it. Some people love this, it scared the shit out of me!! The town of Pamplona advises older people and young children NOT go to the ceremony as it is unsafe for them. You need to go about 10:30-11a.m. if you want to be in the square.

DO NOT bring any good camera equipment with you for this. You can sometimes find balconies to view this from, but they have gotten very expensive. Almost 3 times what I paid for one 4 years ago.

People do not wear their red scarves (panuelico)until after they have been blessed during the opening ceremony, these may be bought from vendors everywhere around the city. You can also get your red sash as well from them. Customary attire for the fiesta is white pants, white shirt red scarf, red sash. You may purchase these as well from vendor in pamplona. DO NOT bring expensive clothes to pamplona as they will be ruined. That goes for your shoes as well. Many people leave their shoes in pamplona when they leave. The become pretty nasty after crusing around the streets of pamplona. I leave mine outside my door of my room or flat.

Good sturdy shoes is a must for the fiesta. There is broken glass everywhere. People do wear sandals but often find their feet with glass in them.

After the rockets go off everyone starts drinking like crazy, you will find people passed out in doorways laying in the gutter, or in the streets or plazas. The medic are busy with people that have given themselves alcohol poisoning that first night. You hear about the deaths from the bullrun, but I think that alcohol and drugs have taken a bigger toll in San Femrin than the bulls have. In the year I have gone there has been one death from the run but several from overdoses. So pace yourself there are 10 days of fiesta. Most people stay up that first night all night (since a lot of them are only there for the 6th & the run in the morning). This is not a good idea if you are planning on running. You need your senses to be somewhat alert to avoid dangerous situtations. Yes people run drunk but it is better if you have stopped drinking several hours before the run or not at all. Adrenaline is an amazing drug.

You do not have to be a marathon runner to partake in the encierro, but knowledge is your best friend. Find someone that has run before and knows the course. Walk the course before you decide to run. Have as much knowledge as you can. Putting yourself in the streets with thousand of terrified people is your biggest danger. And believe me when the bulls have been release from the coral, the fear that overtakes people faces is amazing.

The runs are becoming more and more crowded. Last year one run was reported to have approx 8500 people. There was a sea of heads as far as you could see. This is dangerous since that leaves you little room to get out of the way of either the bulls or of other people.

The ratio of injuries to number of people running is small. But if you are that one person injuried, or killed, it can really ruin your vacation.

There are 8 runs from the 7-14th every morning at 8am You need to be in the correct holding area before 7:30 usually they will not let you in after about 7:15 or 7:20. If you are not in the correct place the police walk thru the street clearing all of those people waiting in the streets to run. this is done for a couple of different reasons. First to limit the number of runner and second to get rid of those that have no idea what they are doing. If you find yourself in this situtation move along with the crowd and exit the street. I have seen the police use their batons to prusade unruly people to exit. There will not be enough time for you to get back to the start of the run, so try again the next day.

Ater the streets have been cleared they release the runners in the holding area. A lot of these people still don’t know what they are doing and run straight to the bullring, they never even see a bull. Those that have taken the time to figure out what they want to do then walk to the place that they wish to start their run from. Most of the time you may get 15-20 seconds along with the bull.

These bulls become very dangeous when they are alone and seperated from the group. This is when they start to look for someone to gore. Movement is what draws their attention. DO NOT try and hide in doorways, as you are a trapped like a sitting duck in there. Should you fall they advise that you stay down and cover your head until you know the bulls or danger has passed. But watch out for the people as they will trample you as well.

Last year there were 13 people gored, 1 death from a head injury, but many other serious injuries, not to mention the hundreds of people with road rash or twisted and sprained ankles, or arms.

Watching from the street- This can be done it is not my favorite way to see the bulls run. You must find a spot and sit for a couple of hours often being pushed, shoved, and stepped on. Once you have secured a place you can not move from it. You can only watch from outside of the barriers. A lot of people will get into the barriers thinking they have found a great place, but you will be forced to leave. This is for the police, medics, and press. So even though you have found a great place right in front on the correct side of the barrier, then the press, police and medics will be in front of you. Balconies are the best way to see it. No waiting in the chill of the morning with the crowds. Balconies can be found to see the run from. The prices vary as to location and day. Another great place to watch is inside the bullring. After the bulls have been put into the corrals inside the bullring, then they release play bulls (young bulls of hiefers) into the crowd inside the arena. This is really fun to watch. You can get tickets for seats and they are cheap about 4-6 euor I believe.

There are lots of activities that go on all day and night. There is music 24hours/day. There are lots of things to see and do.

Accommodation- Make sure if you are booking a room that you know exactly where it is located. A lot of the hotels are further out away from the center of the party, so make sure you are aware if you need to use buses or taxis to get and from the center. There are several places to find maps of pamplona on the web. One place is the site for the Ayuntamiento of pamplona. Accommodation in the center is more expensive than that in the outlay areas. You can also find accommodation in other small towns outside of pamplona, but unless you have a car this is a big hassle.

Camping- There is a camp ground about 5-6KM outside of pamplona there are buses that go there but I don’t believe that they run all night long. So plan you trips into town so if you get stuck staying up all night you’ll know when the next bus is. These places fill up really fast and you can make reservations on line I beleieve also by looking at the site for the Ayuntamiento. I think the web address is listed there.

Sleeping in the rough- This is basically you just fall down someplace when you have had enoung. I don’t really suggest doing this. If you have anything of value on you it won’t be there when you wake up. People do sleep in the park, but they do not allow tents, and sometimes the sprinklers come on when it isn’t convienent for you. A lot of people do this when they are just coming for one night. but it is pretty rough going and it does usually rain in pamplona during San Fermin, the night can be quite chilly so make sure you have a sleeping bag.

Bullfight tickets- These may only be obtained through the scalpers in pamplona once you are there. Last year the prices were about 40-45euros. make sure they are not on the sunnyside with the penas unless you want to be soaked in sangria, and have food thrown at you. This is all done in good spirits without malice, but sitting in the hot sun all sticky is a drag. Usually it is the young pretty girls that get it the most. The plaza de Toros in pamplona is not that large and all seat are good to see the fights from. Bring food and drinks with you. And get there early or you may not be able to find your seat. You can rent cushions in the bullring which helps since the seats are concrete. You will not be allowed to enter where your seat is once a fight has started. You will have to wait until the fight is over.
Another good tip is sunscreen and a hat it get pretty hot if you are in the sun. The fights start at 6:30 but you need to be there no later than 6p.m.

There is more info on my website www.pamplonaadventur… you don’t have to book a room with me to get answers to your question. I’ll do my best to try and answer anything you may have. I do of course offer accommodation, but I am aslo a good source of information, and don’t mind sharing it with others.

See you all in pamplona this summer