Pamplona's Running of the Bulls - Al Jazeera English

Pamplona's Running of the Bulls

As San Fermin festival comes to an end in the Spanish city of Pamplona, the annual tradition faces an uncertain future.

George Henton | | Arts & Culture, Europe, Spain

Pamplona, Spain - As this year's San Fermin Festival comes to an end in the Spanish city of Pamplona, the famed "running of the bulls" faces an uncertain future.

Much like Spanish politics of late, the tradition is going through an era of upheaval. In Catalonia, bull fighting has been banned and there is pressure from animals rights groups to end the centuries-old tradition. 

Before this year's festival, activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), held a protest in front of the bull ring, saying that "Pamplona’s streets are stained with bull’s blood”.

Further criticism has come from women’s rights groups as a result of numerous reports every year of sexual harassment and assaults during the week-long party. This year, a 19-year-old British woman was reportedly assaulted in a bathroom at a bar before being rescued by friends. 

Over eight days and nights, tens of thousands of locals and tourists take part in the globally famous event.

Each morning runners run with the bulls from their pens to the city’s bull fight arena. Injuries are common and this year was no different; with a number of people being gored. 

In the evening, the bull fights, in which six bulls face three fighters in six separate matches, take place. Over the week 48 fighting bulls are killed to rapturous applause from the goading crowds. 

Questions over the future of the run are raised every year but there is little sign that global interest in the event is dwindling, with thousands of daredevils from all over the world, braving the runs each morning and drinking the week away under the hot Spanish sun.

However, there is little doubt that things are changing across Spain and traditions, even those dating back from the 13th century, have shown themselves to be far from immune.


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