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Running of the Bulls Travel Tips

The Apartado – An Essential Piece of the San Fermin Festival

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For me, the word “apartado” is synonymous with culture, tradition and exclusivity.

The Apartado reminds me of my grandmother. She loved the bulls and wanted her grandchildren to enjoy this tradition as much as she did. Children under 13 years old are not permitted to enter the Bullring, meaning we couldn’t watch the bullfights. Instead, my grandmother took us to the Apartado, Encierro, Corrales and other bull events that take place in the Plaza de Toros during some mornings of the festival where children are allowed.

The Apartado is an event that can be difficult to understand because of its speed (people talk very fast) but is also full of tradition and nuances. Every Pamplonica has been to the Apartado at some point in their life.

The day we attended the Apartado, we dressed to impress in our white clothes with a red scarf and sash and arrived at 1:00 p.m.

There we were surrounded by bullfighters, bull owners, pastores, politicians, artists and other influential fans of the bull world. The six noble bulls who had made their fierce appearance that morning during the Bull Run held a more calm and gentle presence during the Apartado.

For those of you who have never attended the San Fermin Festival, the Apartado consists of several parts.

The Apartado itself is the sorting of the bulls each afternoon throughout the San Fermin Festival. This is where the bulls are assigned to a matador (2 bulls per matador) for that afternoon’s Bullfight and then separated from each other.

The six bulls are divided into 3 lots of 2 bulls each with an effort to balance the strengths and weaknesses of the animals. In order of seniority, the matadors, or bullfighters, are awarded their bulls by drawing lots from the mayor’s hat. Once the assignment is complete, they separate the individual bulls into a corral so they are free to run.

After the event, the tradition is to go to Apartado’s bar to savor a fino wine and criadillas (bull testicles). Find out more about eating bull in Pamplona in our related blog entry!

If you are hoping for a photo with the bullfighters, this is the moment I would recommend. It is is best to stay after the Apartado to take photos with the bullfighters and their Cuadrilla (people who work helping the fighter as Banderilleros, picadores, etc.) because the fighters are usually more relaxed at this time and often take time to interact with their fans.

If you are unable to attend to the Apartado but want a picture with fighters, you may also be able to get photos with the bullfighters at the Press Conference at Maisonnave Hotel, programmed for only a few mornings during the festival. (The schedule of these events should be available near the end of June.)

Another option is to wait at the door of the Bullring right before the bullfight starts. The bullfighters will arrive with the rest of their team dressed in an elegant “traje de luces” to fight making this an excellent time to take photos up close. However, the fighters usually do not have much time for photos with fans or to give autographs as they are focused on their fight that will occur minutes later in front of thousands of people. Please Note: I only recommend this option if you are not going to watch the fight in the Bullring because once the fight begins, you will not be allowed to enter the Plaza de Toros.

I hope you enjoy the the Apartado! RunningoftheBulls.travel loves to hear other people’s Apartado memories. Share your experiences and pictures with us here!

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