By John Ensor •
Published: 26 Jan 2024 • 9:54
The San Fermin festival, Pamplona.
Credit: Photos Time/shutterstock.com
Could Spain’s renowned San Fermin festival in Pamplona ever be the same without its trademark bull run? This controversial suggestion has sparked a heated debate across Spain.
In an unusual turnaround, Rakel Arjol, the newly appointed president of the Pamplona Federation of Clubs, voiced her opinions to El Diario de Navarra.
‘I would like San Fermin to be without bulls, that’s my personal opinion,’ she declared. Arjol further expressed her indifference towards the bull runs and bullfights, a sentiment that runs counter to the centuries-old tradition.
The festival, known for its adrenaline-charged bull runs through Pamplona’s cobbled streets, culminates in bullfights at the Plaza de Toros.
The ritual, which involves six fighting bulls and thousands of participants in traditional white outfits with red sashes and neckerchiefs, stretches over 800 metres, ending with the bulls’ death at the hands of matadors.
The suggestion of removing bulls from the festival has stirred up a whirlwind of reactions. Alexander Fiske-Harrison, a British amateur matador and bullfighting aficionado, ridiculed the idea in The Times.
‘What do they want to run — the world’s largest frat house party? But without the bulls the young Australians and Americans would not attend anyway,’ he argued.
This sentiment reflects the significant role bulls play in drawing international crowds. The festival, made famous globally by Ernest Hemingway‘s ‘The Sun Also Rises’, celebrated its centennial of Hemingway’s first visit in 2023.
Aside from tradition, the ethical treatment of bulls and human safety are central to the debate. Humane Society International highlights the killing of approximately 180,000 bulls yearly in fights, underscoring the cruelty and prolonged suffering in bullfighting arenas.
Moreover, the danger to humans is very real. In Valencia, a 61-year-old father, Jose Antonio Subies, tragically died after a bull gored him, causing severe injuries to his liver and lung.
Last year’s Pamplona festival saw at least five individuals hospitalised due to injuries sustained during the run.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Share this story
Subscribe to our Euro Weekly News alerts to get the latest stories into your inbox!
By signing up, you will create a Euro Weekly News account if you don't already have one. Review our
Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
Download our media pack in either English or Spanish.