The Original Running of the Bulls

Each week, Gadling is taking a look at our favorite festivals around the world. From music festivals to cultural showcases to the just plain bizarre, we hope to inspire you to do some festival exploring of your own. Come back each Wednesday for our picks or find them all HERE.

Most people outside of Spain got their first glimpse of los encierros (The Running of the Bulls) thanks to the 1926 Ernest Hemingway novel, The Sun Also Rises. Inspired by Pamplona’s San Fermín festival, his novel in turn has inspired millions to visit, and even participate in, this most unusual and iconic celebration. What few people realize, even in Spain, is that Pamplona is not the only place where los encierros are performed. To experience the most historic of these fiestas with an authentic flair, head inland to Cuéllar.

The small Segovian village of Cuéllar, north of Madrid, has been hosting its own running of the bulls, Los Encierros de Cuéllar, the last week in August every year since 1499 (and possesses historical documentation referencing dates as early as 1215), a celebration which few outsiders have witnessed.

Despite the town’s modest fame, tourism from the surrounding villages can double the town’s small population over the week of the festival, giving a welcome boost to the agricultural economy.

A foreign visitor to Cuéllar, Spain, which is relatively hidden away and known only to those with a family or geographical connection, will find that the town is as interested in them as they are in it and its celebrations, and they will feel welcomed and encouraged to take part.

Want to learn more about this lesser-known Spanish festival? Keep reading below…To kick off the festival, the peñas (groups of friends) convert garages and storage spaces into makeshift dens where they can eat, drink, and gather for the week. The peñas then parade in the town square for the pregón, or opening ceremony, where the guest of honor (usually a minor Spanish celebrity) addresses the crowd and the queen of the fiesta is presented. What ensues is a heady mix of drinking, street parties, tapas (fried pig’s ear is one local specialty, exquisitely prepared by the Las Bolas cafe, Calle de San Pedro, 20), live music, and, of course, the running of the bulls.

It is the locals that make this rural Spanish festival really special and most are more than happy to indulge visitors with stories of the fiesta and the village’s history. One former fiesta queen, Cecilia, now in her late nineties, loves to share stories about strange, inexplicable happenings at the fiesta. In one of her favorites, a local man was cornered and attacked by a bull years ago and left miraculously unharmed, but stark naked.

While Cuéllar may seem like another world, travel there is simple. Daily buses from Madrid’s central station carry passengers from the capitol in 90 minutes, adding accessibility to the charm and wonder of the place known to its residents as “la isla en un mar de pinos,” or “the island in a sea of pine trees.” Want to check out this year’s festivities? Make your way to Spain at the end of August to check out this great Spanish celebration.

Five great ways to get naked around the world

With Nude Recreation Week just behind us, TripAdvisor has announced the top five naked events in the country. So, whether you like to wet your willie while skinny dipping or prefer to bike in the buff, you have plenty of choices to hang your wang.

Biking in the Buff: World Naked Bike Ride – Worldwide, June and July
This one just ended, but put it on your calendar for next year. Since 2004, bikers from around the world have converged to protest our car-driven culture. Show some skin for what you believe in!

Daring Dip: AANR World Record Skinny Dip – Across North America, July 2009
More than 12,000 people set a record by wearing nothing but water in July, creating the world’s largest skinny dip. Everyone had to be shoulder-deep, which I imagine was easier on the eyes in some cases … and disappointing in others.

Maslin Madness: Nude Beach Olympics – Maslin Beach, Australia, January
You have time to plan for this! Maslin is Australia’s first official nude beach, so you can take part in history as you stumble along in the three-legged race (feet, mind you, are joined).

Barely Bulls: Running of the Nudes – Pamplona, Spain, July
PETA’s “Running of the Nudes” is meant to protest bullfighting, but it doesn’t have to be political. Free your body from that fabric prison, and mingle with the few hotties you can find at these types of event. One TripAdvisor traveler admits, “I was shocked but entertained because everything was jiggling around and flopping around, if you know what I mean.”

Share Some Skin: Burning Man – Black Rock Desert, Nevada, August – September
This is an American classic, billing itself as a retreat for self-expression, creativity and community. Burning Man attracted almost 50,000 people to the Black Rock Desert in 2008, many of them getting service without shirts or shoes.

Two more injured at running of the bulls

I have a personal motto: “Experience is the best teacher. Other people’s experience is the second best.”

I think the folks in Pamplona need to learn this.

Just two days after a man was gored to death at the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, two more people were injured in the same manner. The two men, both Spanish, were seriously hurt at another running of the bulls, which takes place daily at the annual Festival of San Fermín. The run was well attended despite the earlier death. One man was gored in the neck and trampled. The other was impaled in the chest and tossed into the air several times.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported the two men were both Spanish, aged 44 and 53. The paper has a website with video and photos of the festival.

Man gored to death in Pamplona’s running of the bulls

A man was gored to death today at the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. It is the first such death since 2003.

The victim, reported by Spanish media to be a Spanish national named Daniel Jimeno Romero, 27, was killed when a brown bull named Capuchino broke away from the main group and attacked a crowd of runners. Three other runners were injured.

The running of the bulls is part of the week-long Festival of San Fermín. Crowds of people traditionally dressed all in white and wearing red kerchiefs run through the streets toward the bullfighting ring, being chased by a herd of bulls. Later in the day matadors fight and kills the animals.

As seen in this video, the man was knocked to the ground before being gored in the neck. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery but died of his injuries. This longer video shows the entire run as well as the fatal incident.

The festival was made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his book The Sun also Rises and attracts thousands of runners a year, many of them foreign tourists. It remains a controversial and dangerous event. Since the running of the bulls started in 1922, fifteen people have been killed, including one American, and hundreds injured.

We here at Gadling extend our sympathies to Señor Romero and his family and want to remind our readers to think twice before engaging in risky activity while on holiday.


Gadlinks for Wednesday 7.1.09

Welcome to the glorious month of July here at Gadlinks! There’s plenty of great reads out there, so let’s get started:

‘Til tomorrow, have great evening!

More Gadlinks here.