(AFP) – Jul 6, 2008
PAMPLONA, Spain (AFP) — The San Fermin Festival, one of Spain's most famous bullfighting gatherings, opened in Pamplona Sunday amid protests by animal rights groups opposed to the traditional event.
Thousands of people dressed in white and wearing traditional red scarves gathered in Consistorial Square to watch the famous "chupinazo," when fireworks are set off to herald the start of festivities.
"Men and women of Pamplona, long live San Fermin," shouted Uxue Barkos, a member of the ruling coalition in the Navarra region, as she lit the first firework.
The festival runs for nine days and features a range of concerts, street parties and dances as well as bullfights.
One of the most popular events, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people including many foreigners, is the so-called "running of the bulls" through the cobbled streets of the old town.
The event takes place each day at 8:00 (0600 GMT) over an 850-metre (yard) course, with the runners trying to stay close to the bulls without falling over or being gored. The event has left 14 people dead since 1911.
On Saturday, some 60 people stripped off and gathered in Pamplona wearing fake bandages to denounce bullfighting.
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