NewsLocalSpain's Pamplona bull-running fest back with a bang after COVID ban

Spain’s Pamplona bull-running fest back with a bang after COVID ban

Thousands of revellers wearing white clothes and red scarves filled the streets of Spain’s Pamplona on Wednesday (July 6) as the bang of a firecracker kicked off the first San Fermin bull-running festival since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020.

Light rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of a sea of people packing the town square, their clothes already drenched with the red wine and sangria that flow freely during the eight-day festival, made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises”.

The annual event, which animal rights groups want banned for good, was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to coronavirus restrictions.

The runs, during which six purpose-bred fighting bulls chase runners through Pamplona’s narrow, cobbled streets over a stretch of 800 metres (0.5 mile), will start on Thursday (July 7) and continue for a week.

They are usually at their most dangerous over the weekend due to larger crowds.

There are eight runs in total, each usually lasting between three and five minutes before ending at the city’s bullring, where the animals are corralled before reappearing in the evening bullfight, when they are killed.

Dozens of animal rights activists wearing dinosaur costumes protested on Tuesday (July 5) in Pamplona, chanting “bullfighting is prehistoric!”

But the risk is very real for the human runners, too.

At least 16 runners have lost their lives down the years, the last casualty being a man gored by a bull in 2009.

(Reuters)

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