Thousands of revellers have descended on the town of Pamplona, Spain, to celebrate the Festival of San Fermín.

The festival is famous for its 'running of the bulls' which sees thousands of visitors from around the world test their speed and nerve as they are chased around the town's narrow streets by 12 bulls.

Today's opening was traditionally marked by the launch of a rocket called a 'chupinazo' from the balcony of the city hall as crowds celebrated below, showering each other with wine and water.

pamplona

Revelers hold up traditional red neckties during the 'Chupinazo'.

The festival lasts for a week with the bull running happening each morning. Critics highlight the dangers to both bulls and runners.

Every year between 200 and 300 people are injured and there have been 15 fatalities since 1924, the last being a young Spanish man who was gored to death in 2009.

Abi Izzard, special projects coordinator for PETA UK, and Huffington Post blogger has described how the exhausted bulls are led into an arena at the end of each run to entertain spectators in a bull fight which, ultimately, ends in their death.


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  • Revelers from around the world kick off the San Fermin festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls

  • Revelers are sprayed with water after the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas.

  • A reveler is sprayed with water.

  • Revelers are sprayed with water after the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas

  • Revelers are sprayed with water after the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas.

  • Revelers hold up traditional red neckties as tens of thousands of people packed Pamplona's main square in Pamplona.

  • A reveler carries a young woman on his shoulders in Ayuntamiento square.

  • Revelers in Ayuntamiento square, in Pamplona, northern Spain.

  • Revelers in Ayuntamiento square, in Pamplona, northern Spain.

  • Reveler in Ayuntamiento square, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Friday, July 6, 2012 celebrate the start of Spain's most famous bull-running festival with the annual launch of the "chupinazo" rocket.

  • Reveler in Ayuntamiento square as he drinks from a small wineskin, in Pamplona, northern Spain.

  • Revelers hold up traditional red neck ties as tens of thousands of people packed Pamplona's main square in Pamplona.

  • Revelers enjoy water throwing from a balcony during the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the San Fermin fiestas in Pamplona.