In 2022, the world’s largest fiesta made a triumphant return after two consecutive years of cancellation. Unexpected as they were, those two years allowed the city of Pamplona to prepare a bigger and better return for San Fermin. City officials, tour guides, hoteliers, and even bull run balcony owners came together like never before to ensure that, when San Fermin did return, it would be in a blaze of glory – and 2022 was just that.
Now that we’re entering the Running of the Bulls 2023, it’s easy to see that a lot has changed in the world. Still, the San Fermin tradition remains constant, a timeless example of the nature of man that offers many the chance to face – and conquer – their greatest fears. This tradition of running with the bulls is as equally well-known for its bulls as its white and red attire. The official running with the bulls outfit is worn by over 1 million people each year.
The Origin of the San Fermin uniform
This beloved outfit has been worn by San Fermin attendees for nearly 100 years. The uniform was first introduced in 1931, but debates exist on its origin. Some believe it started as the choice uniform of the working class, who formed a peña (club) that attended the fiesta together in those years. They wore the now classic clothing to identify themselves at the festival. The working class was a large group, and over time, others began to adopt the “everyman” style to gain favor with the rest of the crowd. In essence, the San Fermin outfit represents and shows support for the working class.
Others know the origin of the Running of the Bulls uniform to be a symbol of Saint Fermin, the Christian saint for which San Fermin is held. The white shirt and pants represent the purity of Fermin, while the red bandana and sash represent his blood being spilled as a martyr of the faith. Attendees began wearing this uniform in 1931 to remind others what the fiesta was all about.
What to wear to the Running of the Bulls in 2023?
In reality, the origin is likely some combination of both stories. Regardless, the outfits have become a classic that are known all around the world. The historic running of the bulls clothes remain largely the same as they were when they were first introduced in 1931.
Fortunately, the hard-bottom shoes, suits, dresses, and other clothing originally worn to the fiesta in the 1900s are no longer the norm. Now, you’re more likely to see casual items like sneakers and running shoes – far better choices when you’re being chased by bulls at 20 miles an hour across cobblestone streets.
The relaxed dress code allows for a more comfortable experience all around. San Fermin takes place in the first half of July, and gets quite warm. Modern, breathable materials are incredibly popular because of this. Still, materials like linen and cotton remain popular for their classic style, while also being lightweight.
2023 Shirts and Accessories for San Fermin
For your top, we recommend a white shirt of any style, though short sleeves will help keep you cool. You’ll then want to adorn the white shirt with a red bandana tied around the neck. These often have a coat of arms or emblem representing San Fermin or Pamplona, but any plain, red bandana will do. Then, a red sash is the last essential item to add. It is tied at the waist, with the knot on the left-hand side so that you receive the blessing of Saint Fermin.
With our Running of the Bulls packages, we include all three of these items to make your trip as easy as possible. Our packages come with a Pamplona Starter Kit for each person in the package. These starter kits include a Running of the Bulls bandana and sash and – depending on your upgrade choices – a:
- T-shirt adorned with our logo and a special bull graphic,
- Classic pique polo with our Running of the Bulls logo,
- or a Premium sport polo with our Running of the Bulls logo
2023 Pants and Shoes for San Fermin
The bottoms and footwear are the only things we don’t provide, since these can vary so much per person. Jeans and casual pants or shorts are the best option for your Running of the Bulls pants. By opting for classic styles for your bottoms, you’ll find the most flexibility when it comes to your day-to-day events. This makes for easy transitions from the morning bull run to Michelin-starred dinners at night.
White pants or shorts are the standard for San Fermin, but you can also get away with lighter beiges and natural linen colors. This may be helpful if you plan to wear your pants for several days, or have another trip leading into or out of your trip with Running of the Bulls.
Footwear is entirely a personal choice. Espadrilles have long been a classic choice, and the festival even has its own style called “Pamplonitas.” These particular shoes are white espadrilles with a red lace that ties around the ankles. They’re a good option due to the heat, but you’ll find most guests – travelers and locals alike – wearing comfortable sneakers. These allow for the easiest traversal of Pamplona’s cobblestone streets.
The only shoes we would recommend against for in-town use are sandals and other open-toed shoes. Due to the crowds and busy streets, these can make for a poor experience.
When to wear the Running with the Bulls outfit in 2023
Most San Fermin attendees will be wearing their all white outfits 24/7, and we invite you to do the same so that you have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the fiesta. Though we recommend wearing yours to all events, there are only a handful of times where it’s socially required.
The 2023 Running of the Bulls activities that you’ll want to wear all white with your red accessories to are the:
- Txupinazo opening ceremony
- Pobre de Mi closing ceremony
- Daily Pamplona balcony rentals for the Running of the Bulls
- Daily bull fights
Outside of these events, it’s still normal to wear the Running of the Bulls uniform, but not necessary. It is also important not to wear your bandana to the opening ceremony, because the attendees will all put them on together to mark the start of the San Fermin festival. Similarly, everyone will take theirs off during the closing ceremony to signify the end.
Being a part of this cultural event is something truly incredible, and we hope that this 2023 guide to the Running of the Bulls uniform helps you not just plan your trip better, but immerses you in the time-honored traditions of this incredible fiesta.