• July 6

    The Opening Ceremony

    The Running of the Bulls festival starts on July 6th. In the morning, tens of thousands of partiers flood the streets of the Casco Viejo, or the Old Quarter, in anticipation of the opening ceremony. Finally, at noon, the city sets off a firework rocket, called the txupinazo, marking the official start of the Running of the Bulls festival. To experience the opening ceremony, you can watch from a balcony, or you can join the very rowdy partiers in the street.

  • July 7-14

    The Bull Runs

    On each of these 8 days, bulls run through the streets at 8:00am, followed by family-friendly entertainment with small heifers in the Plaza de Toros. Events go on all day, including religious parades, parades of paper-máchê giants, wood-chopping competitions, and more. In the evening, you can catch a bullfight, join in traditional dancing, run from a paper-máchê bull that shoots sparklers, watch a fireworks show, and dance to the music of local DJs and artists.

  • July 14

    The Closing Ceremony

    At around 11pm on July 14th, find a spot in the Plaza Consistorial to watch the beautiful, candlelit closing ceremony. Brass bands will alternate between somber songs that mourn the end of the festival and lively songs that anticipate next year's festival. Finally, at midnight, the mayor will declare the festival officially over, and the crowd will head to the nearby church to leave candles and handkerchiefs in honor of the festival's patron saint, San Fermín. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Running of the Bulls festival?

The Running of the Bulls festival takes place every year between July 6th and July 14th. The opening ceremony is at noon on July 6th, and the closing ceremony is at midnight on July 14th. Every morning at 8am between July 7th and July 14th, bulls run through the streets in one of the festival's most iconic events, the encierro. Bullfights take place from July 5th to July 14th, with novice matador fights on July 5th; "rejones," or horse-back fights, on July 6th; and traditional Spanish bullfights on July 7th to 14th.

Where is the Running of the Bulls festival?

The festival takes place in the Old Quarter of Pamplona, Spain. This city is in northern Spain, about 2 hours from Bilbao, 4 hours from Madrid, and 4 hours from Barcelona. The city is easily accessible by train or bus from all major cities in Spain. You can also fly directly into the Pamplona airport, but the airport is small, so flights can get expensive.

How can I watch the bull run?

There are 3 ways to watch the encierros, or the bull runs, at the Running of the Bulls festival.

1) You can buy balcony access to watch from the comfort and safety of a balcony overlooking the bull run. If you book this option from BullBalcony, you can feel confident that you'll have a comfortable, first-row viewing spot to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. You'll also have pastries and coffee, as well as bathroom access. We'll send you detailed instructions about how to access your balcony once you book with us. Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this option further!

2) You can fight for one of the very limited spots along the barricades and behind a row of policemen. There are spaces to watch the run on the following streets: Santo Domingo, Plaza Consistorial, Mercaderes, and Telefónica. While it is possible, most people who choose this option never actually see the bulls, since you'll be at ground-level, and there will be rows of people between you and the bulls. If you do choose this option, claim your spot in the street by 5am - and triple check with locals and policemen to be extra sure that you're in a legal spot where you won't get kicked out by paramedics or police. Bring blankets and warm drinks; Pamplona is in the foothills of the Pyranees, so it can be very cold in the morning.

3) If you're 18 or older, you can participate in the action by joining the runners (and the bulls!) in the streets below. If you choose to run with the bulls, make sure you're lined up in the Plaza Consistorial by 7:10am.

How can I watch the bullfight?

To watch the bullfight, you'll need to buy tickets to watch from the arena, also known as the bull ring or the plaza de toros. The ticket offices are open for a few hours every day during the festival, but the lines are often many hours long, and you can't be sure there will be tickets left when you get there. Get the most out of the festival by booking tickets in advance through BullBalcony. We're an American company that operates through PayPal, so you can feel confident that you're getting what you pay for - or your money back!

What bullfight tickets should I buy?

The bullfight experience is completely different depending on what section your tickets are in. Here is an overview of the two main sections:

1. Sombra Section (Shade): This section is perfect for anyone who wants to watch the fight from a calm and comfortable environment. First, you'll be in the shade - the "Sun" section can get hot! Second, most of the people around you are families or older locals. It's a friendly, welcoming environment where you'll be able to escape the rowdy party. This is the right option for you if you're seeking a more traditional Spanish bullfight experience.

2. Sol Section (Sun): This section is perfect for the young and the young-at-a-heart who are in Pamplona to party. Tickets in this section will have you sitting higher up in the arena, right next to the brass bands and the local social groups that love to sing, dance, and drink. You should expect that your white clothes will turn purple by the end of the bullfight -- the crowd throws sangria to celebrate just about anything. People of all ages are welcome; just keep in mind that it can get a little wild.

Is this festival family-friendly?

Yes! This is a fiesta for all ages, and a trip to the Running of the Bulls festival will be a cherished and unforgettable experience for your children.

One of the best events for younger children is the daily gigantes y cabezudos (giants and bigheads) procession. Children enjoy the spectacle of these dancing papier-mâche giants, and they'll have a blast being hit by the "bigheads" with foam balls. It is a heart-warming local tradition for toddlers to give their pacifiers to these giants to symbolize their growing up.

Children also enjoy the energy of the "little bull run," which you can watch from the stands of the bull ring directly after the morning bull run. During this event, small heifers with capped horns charge at the runners below. No animals are hurt, and serious injuries to people are very rare. You can grab tickets for this spectacular event here!

If you are bringing very young children to the bullfight, we recommend that you reserve seats in the Sombra section, since the party in the Sol side can get a little wild. Children around age ten or above will likely enjoy the bullfight either section.

What happens during the bull run?

The bull run takes place at 8:00am every morning from July 7 until July 14. During the bull run, six bulls and six steers run a course of about 800 meters through the "Old Quarter" of Pamplona - from their corrals on Santo Domingo street to the bull ring at the end of the course.

Starting at around 7:45am, runners gather on Santo Domingo to pray to a small statue of San Fermín that is placed in a nook in the wall. While waving their rolled newspapers toward the saint, runners sing: "A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro, dándonos su bendición”. This chant translates to "We ask San Fermín, for he is our patron, to guide us in the bull run, giving us his benediction."

Finally, at 8:00am, a rocket sounds, signaling that the corrals have been opened. Soon after, a second rocket sounds, signaling that all six bulls have left their corrals.

At this point, the bulls are in the streets, charging up Santo Domingo to the town hall, then running down Mercaderes, turning around Dead Man's Corner, running down Estafeta, passing Telefónica, and finally arriving in the Plaza de Toros. Bulls run fast, so bulls will usually only be on the streets for about 2-3 minutes each morning. Sometimes, if a bull gets separated from the pack and turns around, the run can last much longer.

Once the bulls have entered their corrals in the Plaza de Toros, a rocket sounds to signal that the bulls are off the streets and that the streets can be opened to the public again. Immediately afterwards, heifers with capped horns are released into the Plaza de Toros to entertain the crowd of runners that just survived the adrenaline-packed run.

What happens during the bullfight?

In the evening, the bulls that ran in the morning are fought and killed according to the rules of traditional Spanish bullfighting.

During this event, three matadors and their teams fight two bulls each. In the first of the three acts of the bullfight, the bullfighters enter the arena with large pink and yellow capotes, or capes. They call the attention of the bull through a series of capework techniques called "passes" in order to assess the bull's strength, habits, and personality. Next, the two "picadors" arrive on horseback, wielding lances to weaken the bull.

After the picadors exit the arena, the second act of the bullfight begins. During this section, three "banderilleros" place small darts in the bulls back.

Last, the matador arrives to start the third act of the bullfight. After expertly maneuvering the bull through several artistic passes, he requests a sword from his mozo de espadas, or sword servant. The matador aims to kill the bull by placing the sword in its back.

If the bull is killed in a single attempt by the matador, the crowd will celebrate and the mayor may award the bull's ear or tail to the matador as a trophy. If the matador requires several attempts to kill the bull, the crowd will whistle at the matador, which is equivalent to booing in Spain.

Can I bring my kids to the bullfight?

Yes, you can! The bullfight is an important local tradition in Pamplona, and hundreds of local families will bring their children of all ages to this event. That being said, there will be some blood visible to the audience, and the bulls will ultimately be killed. If you would like to experience the tradition, but you would prefer to focus less on the bullfight itself, we recommend that you buy tickets in the "Sol" side. In this section, you and your family will spend more time partying and dancing than actually watching the fight.

How can I experience this festival on a budget?

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the festival on a budget. Here are some of our tips:

1. Instead of watching the bulls run through the streets, buy a ticket to sit in the bull ring as the bulls run through the arena. Watching the encierro from the bull ring can help you save money, since balcony spots along the streets can get pricey due to high demand and very limited supply. While you're unlikely to see any serious action from this spot, you'll get to see the bulls, and you'll enjoy the lively atmosphere of the arena afterwards when heifers with capped horns are released into the crowd of runners.

2. Avoid paying for what you don't want. Many tour company packages often ask clients to pay a large lump sum for something that isn't curated for them and their unique travel goals. Buying your tickets a la carte from BullBalcony can help you get exactly what you want at the best prices.

3. Avoid scams. Hundreds of people try to make a quick buck during this festival by selling fake tickets to different events. Don't fall for their scams. BullBalcony is an American company that operates through PayPal, so you can feel confident that you'll get exactly what you pay for.

4. Pamplona's airport is tiny, so flying into the city can be very expensive. While booking your travel, consider flying into a major city like Barcelona or Madrid. From there, take a train into Pamplona. If you book early enough, round trip train tickets into Pamplona are only around $30-40. If you're booking late and trains are sold out or expensive, look into bus options like MonBus or FlixBus to get in and out of Pamplona.

5. Eating out during the festival can get expensive. Instead of spending money at up-charged restaurants, opt for any one of the many street food vendors, or plan to shop at the local market or grocery store. Street food in Pamplona is usually tortillas, bocadillos de jamon, or mussels. You can plan to spend about $5-10 per meal if you eat street food. Alternatively, stop by the local grocery store, such as the very central Santo Domingo Market, to stock up on food and drinks. A popular brand of sangria at the grocery store above the Santo Domingo Market is only $2.

6. Embrace the free entertainment. The Running of the Bulls festival has hundreds of free events going on at all times. One of our personal favorites is the traditional dancing in the Plaza de Castillo at 9pm. In many ways, these dances are similar to American line dances. They are open to anyone, so feel free to jump in if you think you can keep up!

7. If lodging options in the heart of the old city are out of your budget, you can plan to stay in a hotel or AirBnb just outside the city center. Although you'll need to be up extra early so that you can walk, bus, or cab into the Old Quarters, this is an option that many visitors choose and love. If you're up for some adventure, you can also book a tent at one of the campsites available for visitors looking for a cheaper place to stay.

Can I speak with BullBalcony on the phone or by email?

You sure can! Send an email to bookings@bullbalcony.com, or reach out to us using the "Contact" page. If you'd like to call, you can contact us at +1 (727) 281-7586. If you live outside the US, shoot us an email, and we can set up a time to video call to discuss your Pamplona travel plans.