The origin of the San Fermin festivities dates back to the Middle Ages, with mainly religious acts performed in the honour of the first bishop of Pamplona. Over time, the festivities evolved into a more recreational atmosphere, with musical events, tournaments, theatre acts and bullfighting. Later other acts were added to the event, such as the running of the bulls, fireworks, dances and the chupinazo rocket launched to hail the start of the fiestas.
Since the 18th century, there have been accounts of foreigners attending the festivities, but it was with the publishing of the world-renowned novel “Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises”, written by Ernest Hemingway in 1926, that the spirit of the San Fermin Fiestas reached readers all around the world. From this moment on, many people began to come to Pamplona, influenced by the stories told by the North American Nobel Prize winner, and thus the San Fermin festivities were transformed into fiestas with international acclaim.
The city is small to accommodate the thousands of people that come to Pamplona each 6th July from the furthest-flung corners of the world. It is precisely the hospitality of the locals and the good atmosphere that can be felt in the streets that help these people feel at home, enabling them to participate spontaneously in all the various festive acts.
Many return year after year, just like Ernest Hemingway, because they claim that the Pamplona fiestas leave you wanting more. There are even some groups of English-speaking and Swedish tourists that have premises designed for them, and even night-time environments where they take the centre stage. This integration has reached such a point, that they have created their own peñas (local social clubs), some with over 40 years of history, such as the Swedish Peña, which was founded in 1975, followed by others such as the Norwegian Peña, and the Bull-lovers New York City Club.