Spain's running of the bulls festival kicks off

6th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The nine-day San Fermin festival gets underway as many gather to witness the spectacular bull runs.

Pamplona – Thousands of revellers sprayed each other with wine Monday as Spain's most famous festival, the San Fermin running of the bulls, kicked off in the northern city of Pamplona.
Crowds packed the town hall square, most dressed in the traditional outfit of white shirts and red handkerchiefs to watch as city officials launched a skyrocket known as the "chupinazo" at noon, to begin the nine-day festival.

"Men and women of Pamplona, viva San Fermin!" the spokeswoman for the municipality's ruling Socialist Party, Maite Esporrin, shouted from the city hall balcony just before the rocket was launched.

The festival, which was popularised internationally by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises", attracts tourists from around the world.

The first bull run takes place Tuesday when six bulls will be released at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) to run from their corral through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town.

That spectacle will be repeated every day until 14 July. It is broadcast live on Spanish television.

A total of 14 people have been killed in the bull run since 1911. The festival also features a range of concerts, street parties and dances, as well as excessive drinking in many cases.

In 2008, a 23-year-old Spanish national died after falling from a 30-metre (90-foot) high wall that encircles the ancient centre of Pamplona during the first day of the festival.

AFP / Expatica
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