Whilst we bask in the rich cultural heritage which San Fermin holds there is one reason why thousands of tourists descend on the town of Pamplona each year – the Spanish know how to host a fiesta!
Viva San Fermin!
Starting with the Txupinazo – that is a giant firework set off from the city hall balcony in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento – at midday on the 6th of July, and followed by the chant: “Pamploneses, Viva San Fermín, Gora San Fermin!” (“People of Pamplona, Long Live San Fermín,” in Spanish and Basque”)
This is the official start, and often last sober moment for some, when Pamplona turns into a city-wide party zone for the rest of the day.
No, there will be no bulls charging you today but you will have to watch out for onlookers who want to super soaker your pristine white clothing with sticky purple sangria – delicious!
Sangria is not the only thing that you will have to be looking out for as eggs and flour throwing are also common.
Staying within the city walls we were bombarded by the sounds of fiesta at all points during the day, and were even living right by one of the 16 peñas.
Peñas are clubs which gather to play music both in the afternoon bull fights and in the streets after dark and are distinctive because of the club coloured belts and bandanas around their neck. Their role at San Fermin is not limited to making a lot of noise, they also run communal meals at the event for their members, and different club events throughout the year.
Within Pamplona’s town walls is divided, with a space for each of the peña clubs. Each of these areas provide general services, uh… that being a bar which is open 24-hours throughout the festival, and sometimes a few food stalls as well with more sensible hours.
If you’re really game you should join them playing music, singing and dancing in the street throughout the night!
Pobre de Mi
After eight days of partying the song, ‘Pobre de Mi’ or “Poor old me”, is only a half ironic about the state fiesta goers.
At midnight on July 14 the eight days and nights of partying officially end as the peñas gather in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to sing away the end of the festival with the words ”Pobre de mí, pobre de mi, que se han acabado las fiestas de San Fermín” (“Poor old me, the San Fermín fiesta has finished.”)
There are plenty more parties which go on throughout the 24-hours non-stop fiesta that is the San Fermin festival but these are the main ones, and perhaps most traditional ones, to take part in.