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Tens of thousands attend controversial San Fermín bull-running festival

The first day of the running of the bulls at the San Fermín fiestas in Pamplona, Spain, Sunday, July 7, 2024.
The first day of the running of the bulls at the San Fermín fiestas in Pamplona, Spain, Sunday, July 7, 2024. Copyright Alvaro Barrientos/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Alvaro Barrientos/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Daniel Bellamy with AP
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The highlight of the festival is the early morning bull runs, which began on Friday, when thousands of daredevils started to race against six bulls.

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Some praise them as brave, others dismiss them as stupid: macho locals and tourists alike who test themselves by running away from six fighting bulls as they charge along a winding cobble-stoned route to Pamplona's bullring.

It's the highlight of the nine-day festival in the northern Spanish city - the early morning “encierros,” or bull runs, which began on Friday, when thousands of daredevils started to race against six bulls.

Spectators watch from balconies and wooden barricades set up along the course. The spectacle is televised nationally.

The rest of each day is for eating, drinking, dancing and cultural entertainment.

On Thursday tens of thousands of people had packed the town hall square to celebrate the traditional “chupinazo” firework blast that starts the San Fermín bull-running festival.

Nearly everyone, including many tourists, was dressed in the traditional garb of white trousers and shirt with red sash and neckerchief as they sang and shouted.

As the rocket was fired, many doused each other with red or sparkling wine.

The festival was made famous by American Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”

The bulls used in the runs are killed by professional matadors in bullfights each afternoon in the city ring.

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