Ballpark Quote: $2,000 to $5,000 (will also include airline tickets from New York City).
Maybe you’ve seen the start of Billy Crystal’s movie – City Slickers? Perhaps you have already heard of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises? Or perhaps you’ve got a need for adrenaline and sky diving does not give you enough of a rush? No matter what your reason is, there is no doubt that going for a run with the bulls in Pamplona is an adrenaline rush like no other.
The History Behind It
It’s uncertain how and when exactly el encierro, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain started. As a festival, the celebration of the San Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona, is a spiritual holiday, initially commemorated in October, possibly as far back as the 13th century.
The bulls, on the other hand, typically were moved through the streets from the farms to the bullring, for the weekly bullfight. Over the centuries, the 2 different activities appear to have merged together.
The spiritual celebration changed into a more raucous event of music, dancing, bullfights, and alcohol, and ended up being so popular that the city of Pamplona formally changed the date to the summer season, to much better accommodate the crowds. Since around 1591, the day of the San Fermin festival has actually been moved to July 6.
With time, the event has extended from 2 days to 8, ending on July 14th. Today, the running of the bulls in Pamplona brings in thousands of people that want to participate or just watch, from all around the world.
Cultural customs are complex issues. What might have come from as an honorable tradition, emblematic of a nation’s heritage, might now, in the 21st century, be seen in a slightly different light. Rodeos, cockfighting, bullfighting – all are blood sports and are now seen through a more critical lens. In Spain, bullfighting has actually lost its appeal, especially amongst the more youthful generation.
A Gallup survey revealed that just 8% of Spaniards consider themselves fans of the sport and active protest groups exist in Spain and around the globe, that try to ban it. Spain’s own Minister of the Environment has at some point openly voiced her very negative opinions about bullfighting, and the city of Barcelona has actually prohibited bullfighting completely. Nevertheless, the appeal of the sport is still alive and well in France, Portugal, South America, and in China, with over 13 million viewers tuning in for telecasted bullfights weekly.
Traveling Expenses to Pamplona.
Airline tickets: Just Iberia Airlines and its affiliates have flights to Pamplona, through Madrid. Try to book as early as possible and look out for sales. The following rates are approximated.
$ 1,200 to $3,000 – A round trip from New York City (LGA) to Pamplona (PNA).
$ 1,400 to $3,000 – A round trip from Chicago (ORD) to Pamplona (PNA).
$ 1,500 to $3,000 – A round trip from Los Angeles (LAX) to Pamplona (PNA).
$ 25 – Taxi ride from the airport to the center of the city (10-minute trip).
If you are a resident of Spain, you can take the train, the bus, or rent a vehicle to get to Pamplona. It is recommended to make a reservation.
Trains: To get to Pamplona, you will most likely need to change a couple of trains somewhere along the way, and schedules might be very problematic. The majority of Spaniards suggest that you rather take a bus.
$40 to $60 – from Barcelona to Pamplona (one way).
$40 to $70 – from Madrid to Pamplona (one way).
Buses: You’ll be able to find bus transport between villages, towns, and cities far more available and budget-friendly. Buses in Spain are very clean, comfy, have wifi, and typically run on time.
Bus ride cost
$38 – from Barcelona to Pamplona (one way)
$35 – from Madrid to Pamplona (one way)
Rental vehicles: You should book ahead of time through a booking app. Rates and options will be much better if you rent from Madrid or Barcelona, where you’ll find the majority of the big companies. There are European companies too, and some offer mini-cars – a great idea if you consider the high cost of fuel. You should be prepared for rush hour in bigger cities; take important belongings with you when you leave your vehicle, and you will find that getting a parking space will be a drag.
Rental car price
$400 to $1,300 – for a compact vehicle for 8 days.
You will require a valid passport to go to Spain.
When Should You Go
The celebration formally begins on July sixth at noon, and it will end at midnight on July 14. July 6, 7, 12, and 13 are the craziest and most crowded days when many thousands of individuals get into the city for either the start or end of the celebration. July 8, 9, 10, and 11 are less crowded, although the celebration atmosphere will continue.
Where Should You Stay
Where you will stay depends a lot on what sort of an individual you are. If you wish to be where all the action is and you do not want to sleep all that much, look for a place in Pamplona itself. If you’d like a little solitude where you can get a nap or nurse a hangover, search for places in surrounding towns like Vitoria (54 miles away) or Estella (30 miles away).
There are buses that can get you to Pamplona on time, however, make sure to know the schedules and be at the stations early.
Hotels: Firstly, book a minimum of 6 to 12 months ahead of time if you’re intending to find any hotel rooms. Some locations are reserved years ahead of time. Second, know that Pamplona hotels triple their costs throughout the celebration days of San Fermin.
$200 to $600 per night – double room in Pamplona.
$85 to $350 per night – double room in Vitoria (54 miles away).
Private houses: A lot of residents from Pamplona turn their houses into mini-hotels throughout the celebration week, renting beds in shared houses. Some will even offer you a light breakfast.
Price per private house room: $25 and up, per bed
Outdoor camping: Lots of individuals bring or rent camping tents, RVs, or vans and camp as soon as they get to Pamplona. Campgrounds like Errota-El Molino (17 miles away) or Lizarra (28 miles away) have swimming pools, bars, and a wild celebration atmosphere, especially on the very first and 2nd nights of the celebration.
$20 to $30 per camping site (more if you rent)
Sleep in the park: A lot of individuals (especially young and male) sleep in the parks and plazas for free. If you are prepared to do this, it’s a great idea to bring a sheet or blanket with you, to keep you warm, and be ready for the weather in Pamplona, that even in the summer season, can get cold and damp, particularly in the evening. You’ll have a lot of people to keep you company and there will be a lot of noise surrounding.
Try to be safe and travel in groups. Hide your belongings inside your clothes when you’re sleeping, and be prepared for burglars that roam the city throughout the celebration week. There are lockers in the area where you can keep different objects.
Long time established camping sites: A few tour businesses out of London own camping areas near Pamplona, with accommodations varying from pre-erected camping tents to dorm rooms. Plans consist of 2 to 3 bull runnings, English breakfasts, a trip to San Sebastian, celebrations at the camping site, a totally free shuttle bus to and from Pamplona, and a return bus trip to your departure station.
$320 to $550 (for 4 to 9 days).
What Should You Expect
Since late 1924, around 14 individuals have died and many others have actually been gored or seriously hurt while running with the bulls at Pamplona. The 3-minute, morning run takes you through a half-mile of cobblestone streets that have been enclosed in preparation for the occasion.
Participants in the run should stay in place, being dressed with the standard outfit of white trousers and t-shirt with a red belt and bandanna, by 7:30 a.m. At 8 a.m., a rocket is fired and 6 bulls weighing roughly half a ton each, together with 6 steers, will be released from their corrals in Santo Domingo and race through the labyrinth of streets lined with shouting observers. They follow about 2,000 runners.
Despite the fact that the cobbled streets have actually been treated in the last few years to be less slick, they are usually moist with dew or rain; runners and animals frequently lose their footing moving around sharp turns, and general craze and chaos will occur. The biggest risk is when a bull ends up being separated from the pack and, terrified and disoriented, attacks whoever or whatever is in its vicinity.
July 6: The Chupinazo is the celebration’s opening ceremony and happens the day prior to the very first run. Many thousands of individuals wearing white and red crowd into the main square. They bring bottles of champagne, red headscarf, and numerous kinds of food like raw eggs, ketchup, mustard, and flour.
Right before noon, the mayor of the city shows up, to invite everybody to the celebration. At this moment, the crowd rises, bottles are uncorked, and champagne sprays the crowd. Then a big and crazy food battle takes place.
At noon, a rocket is fired off indicating the start of the carnival. The crowd cheers and everybody ties their red headscarves around their necks. Ultimately, the crowd leaves, leaving a remarkable mess of glass, champagne bottles, and puddles of food.
July 7: This is San Fermin’s Day. The running of the bulls happens at 8 a.m., and at 10 a.m., a parade commemorating the spiritual aspect of the holiday meanders through the streets of the old quarter. Individuals consist of the Kilikis, the Zaldikos (horse and rider), and the Cabezudos – all vibrant and remarkable creatures.
At 5 p.m., there is a bullfight in the city’s bullring, where the bulls that ran that morning will have to meet their bloody fate. At 11 p.m., the partying starts and lasts all night long.
July 8 to July 14: The normal routine repeats itself, everything but the parade. Running of the bulls at 8 a.m., peaceful up until 5 p.m. when the bullfight happens, followed by fireworks every night and celebration all night long. This is not an especially family-oriented celebration.
Even if you ignore the violence of the run and the bullfight, stacks of trash and broken glass litter the ground, there are countless inebriated individuals all around. If you would not bring your kids to Mardis Gras in New Orleans, do not bring them to Pamplona for this occasion.
By 3 a.m., a couple of individuals should already be lining up along the path, to get the very best watching areas. If you want to run with the bulls, you need to get in position by 7:30. If you want to take photos of the run, have your cam prepared, seeing that in 10 seconds, the bulls will have already passed by you.
This, naturally, depends upon your way of life while in Pamplona. If you’re used to eating in good dining establishments and purchasing many souvenirs, take your credit card with you. Throughout the celebration week, dining establishments up their rates much like hotels do. Nevertheless, if you like Spanish junk food (bocadillos, tapas) and Calimocho, the standard celebration beverage of Coca Soda pop combined with low-cost red wine, you can most likely manage on a $30 a day budget, or even less.