Life, Europe

After 2 years of COVID prohibitions, Spain’s San Fermin bull-run returns

The famous 9-day festival in Pamplona kicked off with packed streets

Alyssa McMurtry   | 06.07.2022
After 2 years of COVID prohibitions, Spain’s San Fermin bull-run returns

OVIEDO, Spain

After the last two editions of the famous San Fermin festival in the Spanish city of Pamplona were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it kicked off in explosive style on Wednesday.

At noon, the chupinazo rocket that marks the start of the nine-day party was fired in the city’s main square. This year, it was dedicated to the healthcare workers who took care of the population during the pandemic and people suffering from ALS.

Thousands of revelers dressed in red and white were packed into the square to celebrate the festival’s kick-off, singing, dancing and popping bottles of champagne.

While the party lasts all day and night, the first running with the bulls begins Thursday morning.

An average of 200-300 people are injured during the bull runs each year, and at least 16 people have lost their lives by being gored, trampled or falling since 1910.

The festival also features bullfights, which were described in Ernest Hemingway’s classic book The Sun Also Rises.

However, a growing number of people in Spain reject the animal cruelty of the sport. On Tuesday, protesters from environmental groups including PETA ran around Pamplona’s streets dressed like dinosaurs with placards calling bullfighting prehistoric.

But the protests did little to quell the celebrations.

Hotels report being 95% sold out, and the hospitality industry predicts that the number of visitors will reach pre-pandemic levels.

As a barometer of inflation, the average price of a hotel room in downtown Pamplona during the festivities jumped from €380 per night in 2019 to €420 ($427) this year.

In 2019, an estimated 1.3 million people attended the festival. Just 13,800 of them chose to run with the bulls.

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