What cities in Spain have bull runs?

What cities in Spain have bull runs?

The most famous bull run in Spain takes place in Pamplona at the San Fermín festival - known around the world as "The Running of the Bulls" festival. However, Pamplona isn't the only city in Spain with bull runs: hundreds of cities and small towns across the country have their own encierros or “running of the bulls” throughout the year, especially during the bullfighting season throughout the summer and early fall months.

Here are a few of the bulls runs that happen throughout the year in Spain:

1. January: The town of San Sebastián de los Reyes recently introduced its "encierros blancos" or "white bull runs," which will take place annually in January. Plan a trip to this charming town, just 20km outside of Madrid, to experience this new tradition-in-the-making.

2. FebruaryVisit Ciudad Rodrigo for the Carnaval del Toro in February, which takes place annually on Carnival Tuesday (more commonly known as Mardi Gras!). Dating back to at least before 1493, this is one of the oldest bull festivals in Spain, and it is believed that it originated as a way to eat meat before the fasting period of lent. Something that sets this bull run apart from other encierros in Spain is the fact that alcohol is distributed to the runners before the bull run begins.

3. March: In Calahorra, near Logroño, you can catch an encierro during the town's annual festival in the first week of March. This festival honors the feast day of San Emeterio and San Celedonio, who were Roman legionnaires and possibly brothers who were martyred for their faith around 300 AD.

4. April: In Beas de Segura, you can run in front of bulls at the town's April festival in honor of San Marcos. During this festival, bulls are typically decorated with embroidered fabric, bells, and even headdresses. Ropes are tied around their horns, and towns people can enter the plaza with them to run in front of them or try their hand at matador capework.

5. May: Bull runs usually take place in the morning, but you can catch an encierro nocturno, or "nocturnal bull run," in the town of Arroniz during the Fiesta de San Isidro Labrador. Plan a trip to this picturesque town in the Basque country to run with the bulls under the light of the moon and the orange glow of street lamps. 

6. June: In the town of Benavente near Valladolid, bull runs featuring a bull tied to a rope take place in early June during the town's famous Fiestas del Toro Enmaromado. This tradition dates back to at least 1692, although bull runs in the town began centuries earlier.

7. July: Visit Pamplona in July to experience the world-famous bulls runs of Los sanfermines, made famous by Hemingway and widely recognized for the red and white outfits worn by runners. The eight bull runs that take place during this festival are by far the most widely attended bull runs in the world, drawing thousands of runners to the streets every day for the 8:00am bull run. 

8. AugustVisit Cuéllar in August for the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del RosarioCuéllar, a sleepy walled town in Segovia, was the place of the very first recorded bull runs in history, with records of encierros dating back to 1215 CE. Notably, Cuéllar is also the hometown of conquistador Diego Velázquez, who colonized Cuba and conquered the Aztec Empire.

9. September: Plan a trip to Medina del Campo to experience the bull runs of the town's Fiestas de San Antolín, which date back to the 16th century. This encierro is unique in that in takes place (in part) in the fields outside the city. Bulls are herded by men on horseback from the fields into the city streets, and daring townspeople and tourists can run in front of the bulls the entire time. 

10. October: In the town of Guadarrama, just outside of Madrid, encierros take place in early October in honor of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. The town is a fascinating stop for those interested in Spanish history, as it was occupied during all of Spain’s Roman, Visigoth, and Muslim civilizations. In fact, the name “Guadarrama” comes from the Arabic name Uad-Er-Ramel, meaning “River of the Sands.”

11. NovemberMedinaceli, a town in the province of Soria, hosts its highly controversial tradition, "El Toro Jubilo," each November. During this event, planks attached to a bull's horns are set on fire, with the bull protected only by a layer of clay placed on its head and back. Since bulls have died and been severely wounded during this event, it has been highly protested by animal rights activists worldwide. This ancient tradition takes place every year on a Saturday night in mid-November.

12. December: To our knowledge, no bull runs take place in any Spanish city or town in December. If you’re looking to experience livestock in Spain’s city streets, consider visiting Pamplona for the beautiful Olentzero parade on Noche Buena (December 24th). During this colorful parade, rams and geese are herded through the streets.

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