Pamplona erupts with start of Spain's Fermin bull-run fiesta

  • People gather for the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

    People gather for the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People gather during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People gather during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate beside ''Los Gaiteros '' musicians during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate beside ''Los Gaiteros '' musicians during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People celebrate during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People are refreshed with water thrown from a balcony during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

    People are refreshed with water thrown from a balcony during the launch of the 'Chupinazo' rocket, to celebrate the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin Fiestas, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Revelers from around the world kick off the festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to mark the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

    People celebrate during the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to mark the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to mark the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

    People celebrate during the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to mark the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival. Associated Press

  • People celebrate during the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to mark the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

    People celebrate during the launch of a firework rocket, known as the "Chupinazo", to mark the official opening of the 2016 San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Thousands of people are singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of the Pamplona’s famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival. Associated Press

 
 
Posted7/6/2016 7:00 AM

PAMPLONA, Spain -- Thousands of people erupted in party mood Wednesday, dousing each other with wine and singing and dancing in the streets of this northern Spanish city to celebrate the start of Pamplona's famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

The festival started with the traditional midday launching of a firework rocket - known as the "Chupinazo"- from Pamplona's town hall balcony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Thousands of people waving the festival's traditional red neckerchief jammed the square down below and immediately began jumping and screaming "Viva San Fermin!" The firecracker also signaled the moment to don the neckscarf, part of the festival garb along with white trousers and shirt.

The nine-day, street-partying fiesta was immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" and attracts thousands of foreign tourists.

The "Chupinazo" takes place a day before the first of eight 8 a.m. bull runs, in which daredevils test their speed and bravery by racing with six fighting bulls along a 930-yard (850-meter) street course to the city's bull ring. The bulls then face matadors and almost certain death in afternoon bullfights.

Bull runs, or "encierros," as they are called in Spanish, are a traditional part of summer festivals across Spain. Dozens of people are injured each year in the runs, most of them in falls.

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Ten people, including four Americans, were gored in last year's festival.

In all, 15 people have died from gorings in the San Fermin festival since record-keeping began in 1924.

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Giles contributed from Madrid.

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