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Memories from Running of the Bulls in Spain

July 10, 2020 08:42 IST
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For eight days of the year, the cobbled streets of Pamplona, Spain, become a raucous frenzy of drinking, dancing, and running from bulls.

The annual San Fermin bull-running festival typically takes place every year between July 6 and 15. But for the first time in nearly a century, the event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.


In pre-pandemic times, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the streets or their balconies to watch up to 20,000 participants run through winding roads in order to escape the wrath of six bulls each morning.

To highlight what the festival would typically look like, Reuters photographer Jon Nazca held up photos from last year's festival in their usual locations to show how the pandemic has changed things.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people gather in the streets to drink, dance, and watch participants run with the bulls from July 6 to 15. However, this isn't the case this year. With more than 28,000 deaths from the novel virus in Spain and an economy in the doldrums following a strict nationwide lockdown, local authorities say there is little to celebrate.

The festival made famous by novelist Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, has been cancelled for the first time since the Spanish Civil War.

The festival begins with the firing of a rocket called a "chupinazo," which signifies the start of the eight-day-long celebration. Revelers from all around the world respond to the rocket by bathing each other with red wine and champagne. Alas, this year none of that was witnessed and an eery silence pervades the area.

The running of the bulls originated in the 14th century, as a way to transport the animals from fields to the Town Square to sell.

Typically, runs take place every morning starting at 8 a.m. To kick off the run, six bulls are released from the edge of Old Town and race through crowds of participants, composed of up to 20,000 people.

Many running participants wear traditional all white outfits with a red scarf, and are referred to as "mozos."

The course runs 2,706 feet through winding Pamplona streets from a holding area to the bull ring.

The event can be quite dangerous, and hospitalisations are a yearly tradition. Last year, two Americans and one Spaniard were stabbed by bull horns, and at least 16 people have been killed since records began being kept in 1910.
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