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Attendees wait for the Chupinazo rocket, before tying the traditional red kerchiefs on their necks, Source: Ayuntamiento de Pamplona

After two-year lull, San Fermín seizes Pamplona with passion

After two-year lull, San Fermín seizes Pamplona with passion

Watch the rocket launch to the festivities from a bird’s eye view

After a two-year suspension, the iconic Sanfermines festival is back in Pamplona painting the streets with people dressed in white and red. Exactly at midday today, Juan Carlos Unzué, a former football manager and native of the city, lit the fuse of the Chupinazo rocket from the balcony of the Town Hall. The act traditionally symbolizes the start of the nine-day festivities in the Navarrese capital.

With the traditional greeting of “Víva San Fermín, Gora San Fermín!” ('Long live San Fermin' in Spanish and in Basque), Juan Carlos Unzué gave the start of the long-awaited and much-missed festival - the most globally recognized cultural marker of Pamplona. Mr Unzué suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and he used his moment as a ceremonial master to dedicate this year’s festivities to the health workers who worked tirelessly during the pandemic, as well as to people living with ALS.

The lighting of the Chupinazo was also followed through the four giant screens placed by the Pamplona City Council in the Plaza del Castillo, the Antoniutti Park, the Plaza de los Fueros and the Paseo de Sarasate. In addition, the start of the festivities was broadcast via streaming on municipal social networks and through the municipal website. You can also see it for yourself on the video link of this article.

More than just Running of the Bulls

The San Fermin festival was famously popularized by Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises. The legendary writer was quite the fan, having attended nine times himself.

Most people associate Sanfermines with the shiver-inducing Running of the Bulls on the narrow streets of the old town of Pamplona. However, the festival is much more than that. In fact, it lasts for 9 days – always from 6 until 14 July.

In between, these two days the city is filled with people celebrating the patron saint of the city and the joy of life. And it’s not just eating, drinking and shouting. There’s a full agenda of activities, including concerts, bullfights, theatre performances and more.

Then it will all end on 14 July with the collective singing of the Pobre de mí song, which means “poor me” and is a good reflection on the idea that a party must eventually end. But until then, Viva San Fermín!

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