Spain’s controversial Pamplona bullfighting festival begins

A famous bullfighting event in Pamplona, ​​northern Spain, got underway on Saturday despite protests from animal rights activists.

The bullfights are part of the nine-day San Fermin festival, held in the city every year in early July.

The festival officially kicked off at midday with the traditional chupinazo, the launch of a small rocket from the balcony of City Hall in front of thousands of spectators.

The first of several bull markets begins on Sunday.

The festival is dedicated to San Fermín, a saint from the city of Pamplona, ​​and dates back to the end of the 16th century.

The San Fermín festival also features numerous concerts and processions, but the highlight is the running of the bulls and bullfights.

Every day from July 7 to 14, hundreds of people chase six giant bulls – some weighing more than 600 kilograms – and several bulls through the city’s narrow streets to the bullring, where the bullfight takes place in the evening.

Several people are injured on the 875-metre course every year.

Animal rights activists have protested the bull running for years, but the festival nevertheless continues to draw thousands of tourists from around the world, particularly from Europe, Australia, Asia and the United States.

Protesters with fake blood on their faces and chains on their wrists take part in an anti-bullfighting demonstration ahead of the 2024 San Fermin festival. The famous bullfighting event in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona went ahead on Saturday despite protests from animal rights activists. Elsa A. Bravo/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Protesters with fake blood on their faces and chains on their wrists take part in an anti-bullfighting demonstration ahead of the 2024 San Fermin festival. The famous bullfighting event in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona went ahead on Saturday despite protests from animal rights activists. Elsa A. Bravo/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpaProtesters with fake blood on their faces and chains on their wrists take part in an anti-bullfighting demonstration ahead of the 2024 San Fermin festival. The famous bullfighting event in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona went ahead on Saturday despite protests from animal rights activists. Elsa A. Bravo/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

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