Running with the Bulls is one of most exciting, albeit dangerous and controversial, of Spain’s popular festivals. It is a week-long event held annually in Pamplona in honor of St. Fermin.
Similar events are also held in Latino lands including other provinces in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and France, but the festival in Pamplona is still the king of the Running with the Bulls event. The seven-day celebration regularly sees close to a million tourists rampaging to the streets of Pamplona for a few strong spirits, lard-laden meats, and a close encounter with amazing beasts.
Running with the Bulls is a long-held practice of letting loose a group of bulls from their pens, through the city streets and into the bullring. Originally just a prelude to matador shows against the bulls, as a practical way of transporting the beasts from their corals to the bullring, the event has evolved into an exciting show of bravery and wild courage among many tourists and the local youths. During the festival, the spectators would usually wait for the bulls, then try to tag alongside them, sometimes on a dare and oftentimes just for the euphoria of adrenaline rush. Most of the crowds also run to try to get inside the bullring before it closes for the evening’s game.
In recent years, Running with the Bulls has been in the center of controversy, as the animal rights movement gains steam and concerns about safety escalate. The festival has claimed a number of few lives in past years, including those of the bulls. Animal rights activists are howling against what they see as the crime being done against the bulls, and have even succeeded in having similar events banned from Spain’s Catalona region. Some stakeholders are also alarmed over the danger that the event poses in revelers. Only time will tell if Running with the Bulls will survive these spate of controversies for the enjoyment of people in the far future.