IN PICS: Spain’s bull run festival kicks off under sexual abuse cloud

We take a look at some of the craziest wine-drenched photos taken during Friday's chupinazo, the San Fermín inauguration party.

IN PICS: Spain's bull run festival kicks off under sexual abuse cloud
The chupinazo: exhilarating for some, stifling for others. Photo: AFP/CRUSOE TREASURE

This year’s controversial San Fermín festival, known as the running of the bulls to most foreigners, kicked off on Friday in Pamplona with the traditional chupinazo (scroll down for pictures).

The inauguration ceremony sees thousands of people bundle up in the city’s central square, awaiting the moment Pamplona’s mayor lets off a start rocket (chupinazo) from the top of the town hall to declare the fiestas officially open.

It’s a bizarre spectacle: a sea of people is soaked from head to toe in wine thrown from the balconies up above, turning their traditional white San Fermin clothing into a mixture of pink and red. 

The square is so tightly packed with partygoers you can lift your feet off the ground and be carried around in the air by the people you’re rubbing shoulders with. 

Exhilarating for some, stifling for others. 

Tens of thousands of people from home and from afar will now take over Pamplona’s streets and squares for nine days of drinking, dancing and singing, and some of the more daring will attempt to outrun a herd of bulls in the nerve-racking encierros. 

But this year’s San Fermín festival has been overshadowed by the Spanish public’s anger at the so-called “wolf pack” case, after it emerged that a woman at the 2016 edition of the festival was gang raped by a group of five men. 

Protests by women’s rights groups are expected to take place throughout this week.

Here are the craziest pictures from 2018's chupinazo

Time for a game of medieval football. Photo: AFP


Don't pack your best white clothes if you're heading to San Fermín because they will get ruined. Photo: AFP


Local youths hold up Basque flags and banners calling for political prisoners to be freed or moved closer to home. Photo: AFP


Showered in red wine. Photo: AFP


A group of girls give their guy friend the rockstar treatment. Photo: AFP


Who said a 'dad bod' couldn't get all the looks? Photo: AFP



A kiss to kick off San Fermines. Photo: AFP


A group of young women get drenched in wine. Photo: AFP


Running of the bulls: Pamplona’s San Fermin cancelled over coronavirus

Spain’s most famous running of the bulls fiesta has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.

Running of the bulls: Pamplona's San Fermin cancelled over coronavirus
Social distancing just wouln´t be possible at San Fermin. Photo: AFP

San Fermin is celebrated each July in the northern city of Pamplona, Navarra, but the fiesta which draws crowds of a million revellers will not be taking place this summer.

Pamplona’s city council officially announced news of the cancellation of the event on Tuesday, confirming what many regular festival goers had suspected.

The festival, which kicks off on July 6th attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, who cram into the Navarran capital for the eight-day long non-stop party, which involves religious parades, concerts, bullfights as well as the daily ‘encierros’ or bull runs.

Each morning at 8am crowds of runners traditionally dressed in white with red pañuelos and sashes await the release of six Spanish fighting bulls and six steers, who race through the narrow cobbled streets to the bullring.

Crowds squeezed into the sqaure infront of the town hall for the chupinazo marking the start of the fiesta: Photo: AFP

Similar encierros take place in towns across the Basque region but Pamplona's San Fermin is the biggest and most famous after being immortalised in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”.

“As expected as it was, it still leaves us deeply sad,” said acting mayor Ana Elizalde when announcing the inevitable news that the festival could not be carried out with social distancing measures in place.

She was unable to say whether it might be held at a later date, given the unpredictability of the coronavirus health crisis.

“It seems complicated to celebrate San Fermin (at all) this year, but we will wait to see how events evolve”, she said.

Photo: AFP

It is not the only time in its history that the fiesta has been cancelled. It was also suspended in 1937 and 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, and had to be cancelled a third time in 1978 after a student was shot during clashes between police and protesters calling for an independent Basque region. 

Deirdre Carney, an American now living in Spain who has has attended the fiesta since childhood, said: “The last time San Fermin was called off was the year I was born. My father was there and he and his friends were holed up in their hotel for a few days to avoid the rioting.

“That was 42 years ago, and it is completely shocking to the people of Navarra and everyone who loves the festival to have this happen again. Of course everyone understands why, and that there was no other choice, but we are nonetheless very saddened. The fiesta is a celebration of life and joy, so we will return next year and it will be even more meaningful than ever.”