There’s all sorts of festivals in this world, some that began as traditions, some that began as a means to kill boredom, and some, that – we don’t really know why they exist; but they do. For this Thursday’s little walk down memory lane, the Sherp is here to show you the San Fermin Fiesta, Pamplona’s bull-fighting, and racing festival!
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Beginning in 1592, the San Fermin Fiesta took place to honour the first bishop and patron saint of the city of Pamplona, Saint Fermín. The festival is attended by a large number of locals and foreign tourists; that celebrate from the 6th of July, to the 14th of July every year! Though there are no images that date back to the first few years of the festival, it has featured in literature, and various historical chronicles over the centuries, until 1954 – when the first ever images and videos were captured and recorded of the beginning of the festival activities by José Joaquín Arazuri.
The San Fermin Fiesta features multiple events, and performances throughout its course – and is fabled to have been host to ‘music, dance, giants, bull fights and runs’, however, in today’s day and age – the festival lacks its invited ‘giants’, but keeps the rest, just as it was – the only difference being the number of people that attend the fiesta!
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From live music, to literature meets, and and strange crazy rituals – this festival has a lot more going for it, than meets the eye! The festival (in its recency) was made popular by an Ernest Hemingway novel titled “The Sun Also Rises” (1926), which only led to the number of attendees increasing manifold – and adding more to the festival experience!
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While a novel made the festival popular in the early 20th Century, there was another novel that was written which chronicled one of the attendees’ encounters with danger at the festival! Long-time participant Bill Hillman, was attacked by one of the bulls during the run in the 2014 San Fermin Fiesta, luckily for him, he was taken to a hospital and treated – and is fully functional now! While festivals like the San Fermin can be extremely fun and intriguing, they also pose a serious threat to the individuals that take part in them, as well as to the bulls that are used during the festival’s fighting and running events!
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Injuries are commonplace at the fiesta, what with all those running bulls and all, but over the years a few deaths have struck the streets of Pamplona during that week of the fiesta, yet people flock in the thousands to the festival each year – some commitment there! This dedication to the festival is wholly manifest in one of the strangest events at the festival – the fountain jump, where people climb the summit of the Navarrería Fountain’s sculpted exterior, and jump into the crowd hoping to be embraced and caught by them – just like the commitment, there’s also a whole lotta trust!
As a cultural marker, the San Fermin Fiesta is just one of the many that take place in Pamplona, and make the city one of the funnest, and quirkiest culture festival locations! Fireworks mark the beginning of the festival, as well as the end, but the added bonus of the fireworks at the end of the festival, are the live music acts and the concert that takes place at the Town Plaza; at the stroke of midnight on the 14th of July.
(Image Courtesy: PamplonaBalconies)
The San Fermin Fiesta, is an iconic, intriguing, and insane festival that brings together people from various spaces – despite its religious and cultural roots – the festival is known to make the city ‘even more fun’, and that, is never a bad thing! However, one must remember, that even though this festival is one of the funnest, and the biggest in the area – it’s purpose is still to celebrate Saint Fermín, and that – shall never be forgot, even in the drunken stupor and revelry of all the participants and attendees!