Pamplona is a very quiet and small city, in fact we are just 200.000 people. In Spain, we are known to be a bit conservative and a little bit shy, but all of this changes on July 6th at noon. It is the opening ceremony for San Fermín or as we call it El Chupinazo. You have to think that on this day we welcome about 1 million people from everywhere around the world. It is magnificent!!! All of this people try to fit in a very small square. So here are some tips that could make your life easier when coming to the opening ceremony:
- If you are planning to go inside the City Hall square be there before 11:00 am or it will be impossible for you to get even close to the square. It gets too crowded.
- If you are in the square facing the City Hall I strongly recommend you not being on the back left of the square. Every year a large group of people stays in that place and they are extra drunk. There is an international tour company that sells only drinking tours (I am not joking) and normally is where they watch the opening ceremony. It is not a nice place to be.
- Eat well before you enter the square, because you will be there until 14:00 minimum and there is no way you will be able to get any food, or even try to exit the square.
- It will be hot, very hot, so take some liquids with you, water, wine … but always in plastic bottles. The police will not allow you in the square with any crystal container. Be wise and don´t through everything away at the beginning, you should pace your fluids supply…
- This is going to sound obvious, do not wear sandals, wear tennis shoes. Every year we send about a hundred people to the hospital because they were not aware of this little tip.
- Do not wear a back pack. It is useless. Just carry whatever you want on you. You will have to open your backpack, bag, or whatever you are carrying to the police. They are checking for glass, weapons…
- Unless you are physically prepared and you are ready to be covered with wine do not go into the City Hall Square. We all think we are fit, but please make sure you are, before getting in the crowd. It is fun but it is also exhausting.
- If you do not want to go to the middle of the City Hall square, you can be a little bit more relaxed in Plaza del Castillo, but if you are with children you should go a little further to the avenue Carlos III or Paseo de Sarasate. There you will find big screens to see what is going on in the square. Here you will not be squeezed out in the crowd.
- If you are planning to rent a balcony spot, plan to pay about 400-500 euros per person. It will depend on the location of the balcony. All of them will serve you what we call “aperitivo”, which is a sort of cocktail lunch. It is fun and you get to meet locals and some other tourists. The energy is incredible.
- When it ends do not go away right away, wait about 20 minutes because the city official band of “gaiteros” will come out of the City Hall playing music. It is so much fun, do not miss it.
I know it sounds wild and you might think that I am talking you into not going there at all, that is not my intention, I just want you to love it as much as I do. If you follow these basic rules I believe you can make the most of it.