Bull-run festival comes to an end in Pamplona

Pamplona's San Fermin Festival ended with a rousing singalong in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The Local takes a look at some of the most striking images from the last few days of Spain's famous - and controversial - bull-running fest.

Bull-run festival comes to an end in Pamplona

A sea of candles and red neckerchiefs filled Pamplona's Plaza del Ayuntamiento in the early hours of Wednesday morning, as thousands of revellers bid farewell to another year's San Fermin festival. 

In pics: San Fermin comes to an end in Pamplona

Never short of controversy, this year's festival saw ten gorings and many more injuries, including two Americans and a British man, while activists protested against sexual assaults that are becoming all too frequent at the annual fiesta. 

And while there were no deaths at Pamplona, a Frenchman was gored to death at a bull festival in Alicante earlier this week. 

During the final days of San Fermin, an animal rights activist jumped into Pamplona's bullring to protest against the spectacle, which is increasingly facing calls to be banned. 

As another year's San Fermin festival comes to an end, The Local takes a look at some of the most striking images from the closing runs and the party that followed. 

Photo: AFP

In pics: San Fermin comes to an end in Pamplona

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PETA offers cash to ban Pamplona’s famous running of the bulls forever

With the news last week that the Spanish city of Pamplona in Navarra has been forced to cancel its bull running fiesta for the second year running due to the Covid crisis, animal rights activists have seized on the opportunity to call for it to be banned permanently.

PETA offers cash to ban Pamplona’s famous running of the bulls forever
A shot from the encierro on July 7th 2019. Photo: AFP

PETA are writing to the mayor of Pamplona with the offer of €298,000 if the Navarran city ceases the use of bulls during their fiesta altogether.

“People around the world, including in Spain, say it’s past time the torment and slaughter of animals for human entertainment were stopped,” says PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in her appeal to Pamplona mayor, Enrique Maya.

“Now is the moment to be on the right side of history. We hope you will accept our offer and allow Pamplona to reinvent itself for the enjoyment of all.”

Each morning during the eight day festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, which bursts into celebration at midday on July 6th, six fighting bulls and six steers are released to run through the narrow streets of the old town to the bullring where the bulls are killed in the evening corridas.

Hundreds run alongside the animals in the morning dash which often results in gorings, and injuries from being stomped on after runners lose their footing in the crowds.

The festival, which was made world famous by Ernest Hemingway, who set his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” during San Fermin, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the party each year.

The festival, which sees Pamplona’s population swell from just under 200,000 to more than a million, is estimated to bring an annual boost of €74 million to Pamplona businesses, according to an association of fighting bull breeders.

PETA’s offer is the latest in a long campaign to ban what it calls “Pamplona’s annual bloodbath”.

Together with Spanish groupAnimaNaturalis, the activists stage peaceful protests ahead of the start of the festival year.

The city’s former mayor, Joseba Asirón, supported the protests, describing them as “fair and honest”.

Speaking to reporters about the groups’ calls to remove bull runs from the festival, he said, “[T]his is a debate that sooner or later we will have to put on the table. For a very simple reason, and that is that basing the festival on the suffering of a living being, in the 21st century, is something that, at best, we have to rethink.”

Since the pandemic began festivals across Spain have been cancelled but corridas were allowed last summer with limited occupancy and with social distancing and Covid-19 measures in place.

But although Spain’s bullfighting lobby is strong, there is a general trend away from it.

In a poll published in 2019 by online newspaper El Español, over 56 percent of Spaniards said they were against bullfighting, while only 24.7 were in favour. Some 18.9 percent said they were indifferent.

Support was significantly higher among conservative voters, it showed.