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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 20:50 GMT 21:50 UK
Bull-running fiesta begins
Town Hall Square, Pamplona
Thousands of people jammed into the central square
Under a downpour of champagne, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards and foreign tourists have opened the San Fermin Festival, Pamplona's world-famous running of the bulls fiesta.

Crowds jammed the city's central square for the traditional firework display that starts a week of round-the-clock drinking, partying and a morning run with six fighting bulls.

Pamplona's festival goers
Festival goers sprayed each other with bottles of champagne
"Men and women of Pamplona. Long live San Fermin. Happy fiestas," shouted the chairman of a popular local handball club, who opened the fiesta by lighting the first firework.

San Fermin is a 400-year-old bullfight extravaganza that was immortalised in Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises.

After a night of drinking and dancing, the fiesta begins in earnest Saturday morning, with the first running of the bulls.

But only a few hundred of the bravest will gather in the old quarter each morning pursued by six stampeding bulls. The fighting bulls will be killed by matadors each afternoon.

Spanish television broadcasts the bull run live until the fiesta ends on 14 July.

The bulls usually injure several people each day. Since the start of the last century, 13 runners have been gored fatally or trampled to death.

The running of the bulls dates back to 1591 when its purpose was to move the bulls into the arena.

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12 Jul 00 | Europe
In pictures: Pamplona bull run
07 Jul 00 | Media reports
Pamplona in party mood
08 Jul 00 | Europe
Pamplona bull run injures 21
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