THOUSANDS of revellers wearing red and white sprayed each other with red wine in Pamplona’s main square last Wednesday (6) for the start of Spain’s famed San Fermin bull-running festival.
The nine-day fiesta got underway at midday to cries of “Viva San Fermin!” at city hall, followed seconds later by the firing of a firecracker known as the chupinazo.
Masses of merrymakers, many wearing traditional white outfits trimmed with red neckerchiefs and cummerbunds, danced and sprayed each other with cheap wine as red and white confetti
rained down on them.
For the first time this year, the person who launched the chupinazo was chosen by a popular vote. The winner was 85-year-old Jesus Ilundain Zaragueta, who took part in his first Pamplona bull run when he was just 15 and continued into his 60s.
“San Fermin is celebrated in heaven. I am convinced,” he said.
The festival in honour of the patron saint of Spain’s northern Navarra region – San Fermin – dates back to medieval times. It involves religious processions and all-night partying in addition to the hair-raising bull runs that have made it famous.
Each day at 8am, hundreds of people race with six huge bulls, charging along a winding, roughly 850-metre (more than half a mile) course through narrow streets to the city’s bull ring.
The first bull run, which traditionally draws the largest number of participants, was last Thursday. A run takes on average just under four minutes.
Meanwhile, a professional bullfighter was gored to death in Teruel, in eastern Spain, last Saturday (9), while several people were injured last Thursday
in the first run of the festival.