Pandemic blights San Fermín festival in Pamplona again

by Deborah Cater
San Fermín festival cancelled

Like last year, this year’s San Fermín festivities in Pamplona have been suspended due to the pandemic. Also, the mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya, announced that no bullfights will take place in September due to the coronavirus.

The San Fermín festivities were planned from 6 to 14 July 2021. However, “this year there will be no great San Fermín festivities again”, Maya said at a press conference a few minutes before the festivities should have started.

In April, they announced the festivities would not take place because of the pandemic. Maya asked the inhabitants to act very responsibly from Tuesday, the day on which the festivities should have started. He also called for “reconsideration of the form of the celebrations” for next year.

Increase in infections

The mayor of Pamplona stated the increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in recent days “has affected the city considerably”. It seemed to be going in the right direction, but now there is an increase again. Because of this, the measures remain in force and we have to adjust the expectations, Maya said. He also announced that on Monday an extraordinary meeting decided there will be no bullfights around the fiestas of San Fermín. To show the world what the fiestas are all about, a video campaign has been launched.

The promise of 2022

The mayor did emphasise that “we have a wonderful opportunity to make San Fermín of 2022 the best ever”. He called for an investigation into what form the fiestas could take next year; saying goodbye to the less popular aspects and promoting the better aspects. The San Fermín Committee will meet in September to consider next year’s fiestas. Their aim is to promote the traditional values of the fiestas. He referred to the procession, the running of the bulls and the fireworks, among other things.

cogesa expats

Away from negative images 

When asked which negative aspects of the fiestas he would like gone, Maya mentioned the gang rape known as the ‘La Manada case’ and the drinking parties in the streets. “These events should no longer be allowed to negatively affect the image of the traditional family celebration”. He also said it would be great to see the Riau Riau dance ritual back.

Divisions over bullfighting

A very controversial aspect of San Fermín is the running of the bulls. “There will definitely be a debate about that”, said Maya, who personally believes the “bulls are closely linked to the fiestas”. Maya also recalled next year will mark the centenary of the city’s Plaza de Toros, arguing this should be celebrated in a special way.

When asked if the decision not to hold bullfights should be extended to other municipalities in Navarre, he replied “there has been some confusion” over this matter. Initially, it was first reported the events could go ahead under certain conditions, but the decision was later revoked.

It is still a guessing game as to how the pandemic will develop and the mayor called for “extreme caution”. “Health is paramount and Pamplona understands this and can respond adequately to this enormous problem”. Asked what he will do this week, Maya said he will stay at home with his family and attend religious events on Monday.

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