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Pamplona's Fiesta de San Fermin gets underway

Tue 6th Jul 2010

Thousands of revelers packed into the plaza mayor of Pamplona earlier today to spray each other with wine as a firework marked the start of the popular San Fermin bull-running festival.

The nine-day festival began at noon with the traditional shout from the city hall balcony of "Viva San Fermin!", which was followed seconds later by the firing of the rocket, known as the chupinazo.

The firework was the signal to those present - many in the festival's traditional dress of white shirts and trousers and red neckerchiefs - that the party had begun. As with previous years, the crowd sang and while many sprayed each other with red wine and threw eggs and flour.

Notably this year the Ayuntamiento made an effort to minimise the noise created by the Fiesta by banning the Vuvuzuela, popularised by the World Cup in South Africa.

The first of the famous first bull-run's of the fiesta is Wednesday at 8 a.m when hundreds of people race ahead of six fighting bulls and six bell-tinkling steers - meant to keep them in a tight pack - charged down the 850mt course from a holding pen to the bull ring at the northern end of the town centre.

The are usually numerous injuries each year in the morning runs, however, the vast majority come from falls as opposed to gorings from the Bulls - last year's festival saw the first death in 15 years.

The fiesta gained international recognition from Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises", and has since attracted tens of thousands of foreigner visitors every year.

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