The European bull run or ‘Running of the Bulls’ as it is more correctly known, is an event that takes place primarily in Spain which involves running in front of a group of bulls let loose on a course around a town. The most famous European bull run takes place in the seven day festival ‘Sanfermines’ which takes place in honor of ‘San Fermin’ in Pampalona, Spain. However this isn’t the only European bull run, and you can also find such runs in other cities across Spain, as well as in Portugal and Southern France.
The European bull run is an incredibly dangerous and unusual activty, but is regarded as those who take part as also being highly exhilarating and cultural. Unlike the Bull fights which are also popular in Spain, the European bull run can be enjoyed by anyone over the age of 18 with no training.
The original purpose of the European bull run was to transport bulls from corrals to bullrings to be killed. While this was going on the route would be sectioned off, but young Spaniards would often jump into the paths of the bulls in order to demonstrate their bravado and speed. According to Spanish lore however, this did not develop into the European bull run as we know it today until the early 14th century. This started when young adults tried to hurry their cattle through the market by using fear tactics and other things. This eventually turned into a competition, and at this point the youngsters would then attempt to race the bulls to the pens without being overtaken. Over time these activities became noticed by the rest of Spain and of course developed into the European bull run as we know it.
Today the event involves wooden barricades erected to keep the bulls on route, and often these will make it easy for the runners to exist in case of danger – with gaps large enough for people but too narrow for the bulls. The European bull run in Pamplona is broadcast live and is the largest event of the San Fermin festival taking place on the 7th of July. It draws many tourists and there are many other celebrations and festivities to enjoy at the time. Before the race begins for instance the runners will sing a benediction – twice in Spanish and once in Basque. The full length of the course is 826 meters and is still a highly dangerous activity with 200-300 people injured every year. However only 16 people have been killed in Pamplona since 1910. Regardless of this fact, the European bull runs found across Europe remain some of the most unique and bizarre festivals on the continent.