Here's what to expect this week in Pamplona, Spain: General debauchery and confrontations with some very angry bulls.
The San Fermin festival, held in honor of Pamplona-born Saint Fermin (who lived in 3rd century A.D.), is known locally as "Sanfermines." It kicked off in the Middle Ages, but became popular in the modern era, particularly among English speakers, thanks to its role in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. Over 1 million people now attend each year.
Besides the famous Running of the Bulls, (where, each day, 6 bulls from the runnings are led to their deaths in traditional bullfights), there is a parade of giant-headed figures (Kilikis) that dance to traditional music and chase children; traditional Basque sports like Jai alai, stone lifting and hay bale lifting; and nightly fireworks.
Each year, hundreds are injured during the bull runnings, but fatalities are less common than one may think. The last fatality occured in 2009, the first in 15 years (record keeping began in 1910). Perhaps the most controversial event so far this year was when some participants managed to hang the Basque flag in front of Pamplona's town hall during the opening festivities, causing a 20-minute delay while authorities removed it.
Below, via Reuters, scenes from this year's Sanfermines:
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