Chasing Bullfight Tickets at Pamplona's Festival de San Fermin

Posted by Diego Martinez, Special Travel Contributor on Feb 15th 2024

Chasing Bullfight Tickets at Pamplona's Festival de San Fermin

An art form deeply entrenched in the Spanish cultural heritage unfolds before you in the evening light. The matador, looking spectacular in a custom-made torero suit embroidered with golden threads, does a dance of death with a brave Spanish bull bred to fight. The atmosphere is electric, and the play of colors is marvelous. The matador’s costume is breathtaking and sitting in the arena, watching it all play out, can fill your mind with the sands of time. The bull will lose, and departing Plaza de Toros, your soul will be stirred, shaken, or both. 

Bullfights are held at the famed Plaza de Toros each evening at 6:30 pm from July 7th - 14th pitting famous Matadors (bull fighters) against fighting bulls from the most important bull breeding ranches in Spain. 

Trying to get tickets for the daily bullfights is a continuous headache, not only for foreigners, but for locals as well. They are in scarce supply because only 10% of the tickets for each performance are available for direct sale by the venue to the public. Very long lines form each morning at the ticket box and the "sold out" sign appears shortly thereafter. 

The remaining 90% of the tickets are closely held by local Pamplonese who have yearly subscriptions to the premier seats for the evening shows. These season ticket holders make significant annual financial commitments to secure their seats and retain their tickets for each of the evening performances. Their purchases indicate their intense passion for bullfighting, but also their proud support for “Casa de Misericordia” which is the organization that receives the proceeds and uses them to help provide housing and care for elderly people in need in Pamplona. 

Because of the scarcity of Pamplona bullfight tickets during the Festival de San Fermin, almost all are sold on the secondary market at many multiples of the face value. You can always show up in the late afternoon on the day of the bullfight and hope to buy from ticket scalpers outside Plaza de Toros, but the negotiation is in Spanish, prices vary widely, and the quality, and authenticity of the ticket you buy is not assured. Plus, it’s illegal to sell bullfight tickets on the street, so it’s always possible your transaction can be interrupted. If you’ve already spent thousands of dollars traveling to Pamplona, it’s probably wise to consider spending a bit more to ensure you have valid tickets and reserved seating for the desired performance. 

Experience an important cultural tradition at the Festival de San Fermin and get your tickets to see a skilled Matador in action! We offer a variety of Pamplona bullfight tickets throughout the festival:

The bullfight is one of the cornerstones of the San Fermin fiestas and almost all of the festival activities are centered around bulls. History shows bullfights were already being held in Pamplona as far back as 1385. They were institutionalized in 1591 and have become deeply rooted in Spanish culture. 

The ritual in the ring is always the same. 

The mounted Alguacilillos (constables in ancient costume at the orders of the president of the bullfight) appear and begin trotting their horses around in circles playfully passing one another. 

Then the three Matadores (bullfighters) on the bullfighting program for the day make a grand entrance followed by their team including Subalternos (assistant bullfighters) and the Picadores(mounted lancers). Their majestic parade is known as the "Paseíllo"

A trumpet announces the release of the first bull into the ring. The Subalternos try to attract the bull's attention with their capes while the Maestro (master bullfighter) carefully studies the bull's movements from behind a wall. 

After the team has tested the bull, the Matador enters the ring and begins making movements with his cape as the animal and bullfighter measure one another. 

The mounted Picador then enters the ring and faces the bull with his pike to weaken its prowess. 

A drum roll signals the time has arrived for the lancers to retire, and the second act of the fight begins as a brave Banderillero (bullfighter under the orders of the Matador) places three pairs of beribboned darts or Banderillas in the bull's withers. 

The Matador offers a series of dramatic passes with his cape then stands before the president and dedicates his Faena (performance). Regulations state the matador’s stay in the ring must not exceed ten minutes. When that time is up, the matador is required to move to retire the bull. 

Six bulls are fought each evening. Seated in a private box in the first section of seats in the ring, the President (usually a member of the Pamplona council advised by three consultants and a veterinarian), decides when to change acts. He is solely responsible for ensuring all Regulations are met and his is the final word in deciding trophies that may be awarded for each Faena. 

Throughout the fiesta, this dramatic and historic spectacle, deeply engrained in the Spanish culture, plays out on the arena floor. It commands the attention of the passionate aficionados as well as less passionate observers who are often forming their first in-person impressions of the experience. 

Tickets can be quite difficult and expensive to acquire, and the bullfights may challenge you personally, but any visitor to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls at the Festival de San Fermin should at least consider taking it in. In addition to offering 2024 Pamplona bullfight tickets, we are proud to offer 2024 Pamplona travel packages. that offer travelers a chance to enjoy all there is at the Festival de San Fermin.