In homage to Spain's famous 'Running of the Bulls', New Orleans holds a fun, safer version of the festival every summer, attracting tens of thousands of people.
- When? 7th - 9th July 2017
- Where? Little Gem Saloon, New Orleans
- Price: Small registration fee
If you're expecting to be chased by actual bulls - like in Spain's legendary Encierro of Pamplona (The Running of the Bulls) - at the New Orleans San Fermin Festival, you can think again. To the delight of many, it's actually roller derby girls chasing you down in an event which might bring back memories of playing kiss chase in primary school. Don't be fooled into thinking these girls don't mean business though; they carry foam wiffle bats which they aren't afraid to use if they catch you.
Debuting in 2007, New Orleans has held this wacky festival annually ever since and its popularity has rocketed in recent years. The idea behind San Fermin originates from Spain's (slightly mental) Running of the Bulls which tends to get a lot of negative press for all the right reasons, yet brings people together in what is a major cultural event in Spain. As such, organisers wanted to recreate the festive atmosphere found at Encierro of Pamplona but provide a safer alternative for participants.
On the Saturday morning more than 18,000 runners turn out to take part in the star event which sees them hunted down by over 400 RollerBulls (skaters selected from world roller derby leagues). Much like an angry bull, they'll be onto you before you know it and will give you a wack via their foam waffle bats if you're too slow, so you'd better be quick.
Runners are asked to wear the traditional costume of a white shirt and pants/shorts with a piece of red cloth around their waist and another around their neck. Although it used to be free, registration to attend and take part in the festival now incurs a small fee so check the website for more information nearer the time if you plan on visiting.
Don't go thinking this festival is all about a game of cat and mouse though. There's plenty of dancing, drinking, partying and general merrymaking across the weekend too. Things actually get underway on the Friday with the official kickoff party El Txupinazo running between 5 - 9 p.m. This year it will take place at Little Gem Saloon with the price of a ticket giving you access to the open bar, live music and a great selection of food.
Needless to say however, the main party - La Fiesta de Pantalones - follows the run on the Saturday where the same dress code for the runners applies to all (white shirt and pants/shorts with red ties/cloth around your neck and waist). Expect entertainment galore, an electric atmosphere and plenty more drinking, dancing and eating. And then for those who manage to get out of bed on the Sunday, you can nurse your hangover at the final event - El Pobré de Mi - where tapas, talent contests and chilled vibes are on the menu.
Yet despite all the partying, let's not forget why San Fermin has become one of the biggest and most anticipated summer festivals in New Orleans. If you happen to be in the city for this one, you should give it a go. After all, it isn't every day you get to be chased by more than 400 RollerBulls. And best of all, the only doctor you might be seeing after this run is the love doctor.
- Get there: Fly to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). The Little Gem Saloon is a 25 minute drive away.
- Stay: Book accommodation in the French Quarter to be nearby and experience the true flavour of NOLA.
*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!