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Pamplona: Fiestas and Folklore

The festival of San Fermin is by far the best known event taking place in Pamplona. TV-spectators in all the world are surprised, impressed or shocked each year when they watch the spectacle of bulls running through the streets of the town and hundreds of young men, usually dressed in traditional white shirts and red belts, ahead of them. Taking this challenge frequently ends in blood and tears. Hemingway was deeply impressed by Pamplona's Sanfermines, as by the tradition of bullfighting in general, and reports on it in several of his books. The way through the town leads to the bullring, where in the evening of the same day are celebrated some of the most important bullfights of all the season, with the very best toreros.

The spectacle as described above takes place on the first day of the festival, on July, 7th. During the following week all Pamplona is the scenery of an enormous party, with dancing and singing and drinking - it is certainly the most exciting week of all the year.

Although the Sanfermines of Pamplona are the best known event of that kind, there are similar festivals in several of the villages around: in Tudela from July, 24th to 28th, in Estella from the first Saturday in August, in Tafalla from August, 15th to 20th, and in Sanguesa from September, 11th to 17th.

Another very interesting tradition in the province is the "Ceremonia del Tributo de las tres Vacas", in Roncal valley, on July, 13th. A contract from 1375 obligates the inhabitants of the french Baretous valley to pay an annual tribute in form of three cows to the people of Piedra San Martín. The ceremony is executed by the town-mayors, in medieval gowns.

On May, 25th takes place a festival of traditional regional dances, called Baile de la Era, in Estella.

On June, 24th, pilgrims of all the region come together in a cave close to the Hermitage of San Juan de Xar, in Yanci, to wash themselves in the water of its three springs. Illnesses are said to be cured by that in a miraculous way.

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