The San Fermin Festival is held every year between July 6 and 14. The festival has become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of Pamplona’s old quarter to the bull ring by runners. If you are looking to travel to this festival, it’s good to know the best Running of the Bulls dates based on your preferences. You do not have to be at the San Fermin Festival for the entire time period, but we recommend 2 to 4 nights tops (check out our sample itinerary). During the Running of the Bulls dates there are daily activities that happen every day as well as special festivities. Below we will describe them all so you know what to expect.
July 6 – Opening Ceremony (Txupinazo):
The Opening Ceremony marks the start of the San Fermin Festival. It’s held at Pamplona’s main square and starts at Noon on July 6th. At this time, Pamplona’s Mayor & City Council step out onto the balconies of the Town Hall to greet the massive crowd. A rocket with fireworks is launched and the crowd goes into a frenzy with corks of champagne bottles being popped left and right and guzzled down! It’s definitely an incredible site and the party atmosphere is at a 10! The square is incredibly packed so if you are not into crazy crowds we recommend booking a VIP Balcony with us. If you are looking to go for the Opening Ceremony, we recommend arriving in Pamplona on July 5th and stay until July 8th or 9th. Keep in mind these are the most expensive days to be in Pamplona & hotels sell out quickly so we recommend booking ASAP.
July 7 – First Day of Running & Saint Fermin Procession
The first day of the of the Bull Run is on July 7th at 8am, when a first firecracker is lit to announce the release of the bulls from their corral. The Bull Run takes place every morning at 8am, but the first day is a little more special as it’s the first one of the year and gives a good indication of the week to come. The key day of the festival is 7 July, when thousands of people accompany the 15th-century statue of Saint Fermin through the old part of Pamplona. The statue is accompanied by dancers and street entertainers, and different political and religious authorities including the city mayor.
July 14 – Closing Ceremony (Pobre de mi)
After nine days of partying, the people of Pamplona meet in the City Hall Plaza at midnight on 14 July, singing the traditional mournful notes of the Pobre de Mí (‘Poor Me’), in a candlelit ending. The city mayor closes the festival with participants lighting a candle and removing their red handkerchief as the song is played by the local band, followed by a fireworks display at the city hall. This closing ceremony tradition started out in the 1920s. If you are looking to attend this event, the best Running of the Bulls dates are July 12 – 15, which are also the least expensive.
- Running of the Bulls – The actual running is held at 8am every morning from July 7 – 14.
- Giant & Big Heads Parade – Every day, during the morning, there is a parade of gigantes y cabezudos, with the giants figures being more than 150 years old.
- Traditional Sporting Competitions – There are exhibitions and competitions of Basque rural sports every morning in the “Plaza de los Fueros”, a square close to the city citadel, although they were formerly held in the bullring. Sports include stone lifting, wood cutting, or hay bale lifting.
- Bull Fights – At 6:30PM from July 6 to 14 there are Bull Fights held at the bull ring with the same bulls that were run in the same morning.
- Fireworks – At 11PM, a Fireworks show is held at the citadel park. Fireworks spectacles have been known to occur in San Fermin as far back as 1595. Since the year 2000 an international fireworks contest is held. Thousands of people watch them seated on the grass around the citadel.
Running of the Bulls Dates based on Price
The most expensive times to be in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls are July 6 to 8 because of the opening ceremony events. July 9 – 12 are mid-range and the least expensive dates to be in Pamplona are July 12 – 15.
TGW Running of the Bulls Itinerary
Our Pamplona Running of the Bulls Packages are designed for you to get the most out of your stay. Our Sample 3 night Itinerary is the following:
- Day One – You will be greeted at the Airport or Train Station by a guide that will take you to your hotel. The first night is free at your own leisure and we recommend going to the old town to have dinner and then check out the firework spectacle at the citadel park (Held every night at 11:00PM). Keep in mind that if you want a special dinner at a restaurant by the citadel to check out the fireworks, we can add it in without a problem!
- Day Two – At around 7:00AM, a guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Pamplona’s Old Quarter to check out the Running of the Bulls at a VIP Balcony, which are always on the 1st or 2nd floors so that you can be right next to the action. There will be coffee, some juices and biscuits provided and your guide will explain the aspects related to the origin and history of the running of the bulls. This is also a great chance for you to ask the guide the in’s and out’s of the actual running just in case you want to try it on the next morning (we always schedule the VIP Balcony on your first morning so that you can get the jist of the running). The Running of the Bulls starts at 8am every morning starting on July 7th and it’s extremely quick. After watching the running, you will be taken to the Guenduláin Palace for an incredible breakfast. Following Breakfast, we will provide you with a City Tour of Pamplona so that you can get a great feel for the city. After the tour you can choose to stick around the city and take part in the festivities or go back to your hotel to relax. We have included a Bull Fight for you in the evening (on the Shady side of the Bull Ring) that starts at 6:30PM. After the Bullfight your night is at leisure. The nightlife in Pamplona during this time is amazing. The bars and small clubs throughout the city have an amazing festive atmosphere, but keep in mind that if you are going to Run on day 3, we recommend staying fresh for the next morning!
- Day Three – You can either choose to run on this morning, purchase an additional VIP Balcony, watch the run from the streets or sleep in if you partied hard the night before. Day Three is completely at Leisure and we do this on purpose because most of our clients decide to run on this day.
- Day Four – A driver will pick you up at your hotel a couple of hours prior to your flight. You have now checked off another incredible event off your bucket-list.