Complete program of San Fermín.
Sanfermines is a summer festival where, if you want so, each day can offer a different experience. The programme is full of activities among which music and gastronomy play an important role.
On July 6 at 9:00, the “cuadrillas” (groups of locals) gather to have an early morning snack (fried eggs and serrano ham with tomato sauce, piquillo peppers, etc.) before going to the celebrate the launching of the “chupinazo” (opening rocket) at 12:00, whether at the very Plaza Consistorial, which is packed with people, or from other locations such as Plaza del Castillo or a little more quietly from Avenida Carlos III, as the event is broadcast on giant screens on the street. Practically all bars and restaurants turn their TV sets on to share this moment, the moment being as intense as it can be if experienced in the Plaza Consistorial. If you plan to get together for this early-morning “almuerzo” just like everybody else around town, make your reservation well in advance. Keep in mind that this day it is customary to toast with champagne as the “chupinazo” goes up.
At 1pm, an exhibition of regional dances begins in a crowded Plaza de los Fueros. The number of dancers, the showiness of their costumes and the music draws everybody’s attention. It is time to have a “vermú” (drinks and appetizers before lunch or dinner), as the bars display their “pinchos” which you can indulge in accompanied by a good Navarrese wine or cider, be it standing, at the bar, sitting at a table or simply in the street round the day.
On the 6th of July, many locals in Pamplona get together with friends for lunch, so if you are considering eating at a table, you’re your reservation well beforehand. After lunch at around 5 pm, it is time for the Riau-Riau at the Plaza Consistorial. This is the first civil-religious event of the festival, bringing together the municipal council, the masquerade of giants and La Pamplonesa music band with the people in the streets. The event is characterised by a famous waltz composed by Miguel Astráin in 1850 and which has become the most famous song of the festival. The chorus reads as follows:
porque llegaron las fiestas
de esta gloriosa ciudad
que son en el mundo entero
una fiesta sin igual.
The afternoon is the time to enjoy music in bars, brass bands or small street concerts of all kinds. The offer of music styles and events is distributed throughout the city, although mostly focusing around the Old District. If you are looking for a slightly quieter alternative, the Segundo Ensanche district, the Paseo de Sarasate, Taconera Gardens or Antoniutti Parks are there for you.
At 11 pm it is time to attend the fireworks event near the Citadel. Many people use this 20-minute hiatus to have dinner. If you are looking for a quiet environment and spectacular views to enjoy the firework display, come to the Baluarte restaurant where you can enjoy a dinner based on the best products of the season from the vegetable gardens of Navarre in a unique setting. You need to purchase your ticket well in advance. Your ticket includes a drink and a dance session.
Any day of the festival begins at 6:45 am with La Pamplonesa music band playing their “Dianas” (reveilles) around the streets of the Casco Viejo, a total of four scores played in random order and with little rest in between. For the night revellers they are the perfect way to end the party in a very particular dance atmosphere and a lot of sense of humour. For early birds it is the best way to get to the bull ring in a relaxed and funny atmosphere.
Every day at 8 am, the bulls run along the Cuesta de Santo Domingo, across the Plaza Consistorial and along Mercaderes and Estafeta streets until they reach the Bull Ring in a this quick and massive event. It is the best known component of the festival and one of the most massively attended. So, if you want to participate in it, you have the following options:
- From the fence: (please note that the first fence is reserved for runners, medical staff, press, etc., while the second is intended for the general public). It is recommended to get there at least two hours in advance.
- From a balcony: many tourism businesses in the city offer the possibility of renting balconies, some including breakfasts and guided tours.
- Bull Ring: You can go directly to the Bull Ring and watch there the final stretch of the running of the bulls and see how the “mozos” and “mozas” and the bulls enter the arena. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office from 6am.
Please note that the streets which the “encierro” runs through are closed to pedestrians 90 minutes before the start of the running.
If you want to run, you should know that the running is open to all people of legal age willing to participate. Whoever decides to run the encierro must do so in a responsible way and always following the instructions of the police and the bull shepherds, as well as a series of basic rules whose non-compliance carries an economic penalty for the offender. If you want to check the rules, click here.
After the encierro, breakfast or early morning snack is mandatory, typically churros dipped in hot chocolate, fried eggs with chistorra, piquillo peppers, serrano ham with tomato sauce... or the "caldico" (hot broth).
Every day starting at 9:30 am, the “Comparsa”, music masquerade of giants and big-heads, begins to parade the streets of Pamplona. Keep in mind that the route changes every day. You can check sanferminoficial official festival application to follow the Comparsa in real time. The atmosphere is very familiar and calm. It is a good time for a “vermú” (drinks and appetizers before lunch or dinner). This proposal is further supplemented with music, dance, theatre or rural sport events that take place every day of the festival in different locations around town.
Lunch is indispensable to regain your strength, to rest and to enjoy the company of friends. You cannot leave Pamplona without going on a “pinchos” route, an experience of fingerfood delicacies combining the best culinary techniques with the best seasonal local produce. The offer of “pinchos” is very varied in the bars of the Casco Viejo.
Every day after lunch and before the bullfight, bull ring knights clad in black capes flanked by mules the municipal band La Pamplonesa parade the streets of the Casco Viejo to the rhythm of paso dobles on their way to the Bull Ring.
If you prefer an alternative to the bullfight, during the San Fermín festival you can visit the Corralillos corrals where the bulls that will be fought in the bull ring during the festival stay. The place is prepared for the visit and you will be amazed by the size and nobleness of these animals. Tickets are around € 2 for adults.
Next to the Corralillos stands the fairground or "barracas", a space with carousels and other attractions for children and adults with incredible views of the walls of Pamplona.
Before we call it a day, we can enjoy an evening or night stage show at the Gayarre Theatre, if you are in for a cultural treat? If you are not a stage fan and prefer other types of shows, Pamplona offers during all the festival different spaces for different audiences: young people, seniors, Jazz music ... The program changes from one year to the next, and most shows are free, in open spaces, so you need not make any reservations whatsoever. Check the official programme.
One can also enjoy the encierro in a quiet place and accompanied by breakfast. The Nuevo Casino, above the hundred-year-old Café Iruña, is a meeting point for many locals and visitors, who start the day just after the running with a typical breakfast of churros dipped in hot chocolate and animated by the exclusive “Baile de la Alpargata” (Espadrille Dance).
Like every day during the San Fermín festival, seeing the running followed by breakfast or an early morning snack is one of the best ways to start the day with courage and strength. Those who do not get up so early but may join the party in the middle of the morning to enjoy another different day. Music and street shows take the streets every day after the encierro, and the day continues with lunch and “vermú” (drinks and appetizers before lunch or dinner) among friends and relatives. At noon, the Paseo de Sarasate boulevard hosts a daily recital of traditional “jota” songs by bands from Navarre or neighbouring communities.
A less well-known event, but very attractive for many, is ‘El Apartado’. It is the moment when lots are drawn to assign the bulls to bullfighters for the early evening bullfight. The draw is not done before the public, but you can watch how bulls are taken to their respective dens.
One of the best experiences one can enjoy is having lunch at the premises of a “peña” or gastronomic society. The San Fermín festival is a good example of the importance of the gastronomic culture of the people of Pamplona. Everything is celebrated around a table, and the meal usually ends with music, “jota” songs and dances. A true experience.
The tables are cleared before going to the Bull Ring. Whether you go to the ring or not, we recommend standing on Estafeta street or the Plaza Consistorial to watch the “cuadrillas” of locals carrying a towel on their shoulders and a hat, with lunch boxes full of exquisite food and buckets with ice and fresh drinks, go towards the bull ring. Once there, the joyfulness of the music played by the “peñas” adds up to the bull fight. The “peñas” are an essential part of the festival whether during the day or during the night, but mostly during the bullfights. Afterwards, they leave the bull ring and parade the streets in a lively and humorous atmosphere as in the early morning reveilles. This parade runs through the streets of the Casco Viejo as they waive their banners, another distinctive element of the “peñas”.
At 9 pm, when the bullfight in the bull ring ends, popular dances begin in the Plaza del Castillo: “zortziko”, “la era”, “la jota”, “purrusalda” and “jauzis”. The best thing about this is that, whether you know how to dance or not, you are always welcome.
Firework displays are once again a good excuse to take a break from the fiesta while having a sandwich in the surroundings of the Vuelta del Castillo or the Plaza de los Fueros, where later on we can stay for some rock music acts.
Watching the running of the bulls from a balcony accompanied by a tourist guide and eventually being offered the traditional Pamplona breakfast is a good way to start the day. Tourist guides also offer daily guided tours of the city in which they take visitors around the city and explain curios about the festival. Visits are usually available in Spanish and in English, and it is sometimes necessary to book in advance.
If you are on a family vacation or visiting with small children, we can assure you that Pamplona is a safe city with a good offer every day of San Fermín to suit all tastes and ages. In the mornings, free leisure spaces such as “Birjolastu”, “Kirol Ari” and “¡Menudas Fiestas!” open to entertain the little ones. These spaces in the Plaza de la Libertad and in two green areas of Pamplona – Taconera Gardens and Media Luna Park, accommodate recreational and sports activities: inflatables, board games, sports, culture ... These spaces open at different times in the morning and in the afternoon.
Another option is to combine partying and more calm activitites. While Pamplona bustles with joy, a few kilometres from the city you will find landscapes and quiet spaces where to take a break and engage in other activities: hiking, fishing ... as Ernest Hemingway himself did when in Pamplona.
If you are looking for something truly genuine do not miss a pelota game at the Frontón Labrit. Like with bullfights, pelota events are held every day during the San Fermín festival, and the atmosphere is very similar to that of the neighbouring Bull Ring in the afternoon. The San Fermín Pelota tournament is held every year, as well as other professional and amateur handball competitions.
Both Pamplona and Navarre are home to renowned chefs who offer tasting menus with which you will indulge in the best of our gastronomy. The intensity of the festival does not entail a decreased quality of the offer, which is always guaranteed in these restaurants.
Before we call it a day, if you want to get away from the bustle of the streets of the Old District, keep in mind that many hotels in the city offer small concerts, dances ... in a cosier and more special atmosphere.