PP Travel - Pamplona - Bull Fighting
For over 30 years PP Travel has been introducing tens of thousands of travellers to the magic of Pamplona’s incomparable fiesta. For over 30 years we have been doing our best to open as many eyes as possible to the dark side of their world-famous festival - the barbaric bull fight.
This firm has always been an anti-bull fight promoter and we believe the best way to put an end to this cruel tradition is to introduce, educate and give those wanting to learn about this brutal pastime, a practical balanced first-hand experience. We do not aim to brainwash or spread radical one-sided views on the bull fight issue. We believe by presenting the facts and allowing those who choose to, the opportunity to experience the joy of the San Fermin fiesta along with understanding its undeniable flaw – they will soon discover an end to bull fighting must happen, sooner rather than later.
We believe we are winning the battle. Attitudes have changed over the past three decades. Pressure is mounting on Spanish authorities - especially by those who know what they are talking about. Most of our guests discover the fiesta is utterly amazing and that 95 per cent of it is traditional exuberance and merriment. They also discover that its archaic treatment of bulls has no place in modern society, and it has to - and will - end.
Here are some personal views of long-standing PP Travel staff members:
"It’s education and promoting the San Fermin experience that will bring about change"
- PP Travel founder, Colin “Bomber” Dale
"You've just got to get to Pamps - it's without doubt the most amazing party in the world, mate ..."
So, I was informed as a young, green traveller arriving in Europe for the first time in the mid-1980s. I had never heard of the city of Pamplona, let alone the Fiesta of San Fermin. But after all the hype I knew that I just had to be in the middle of this town, somewhere in northern Spain, on 6 July the following year.
And what a party it turned out to be! Nothing prepares you for the electric atmosphere, excitement, passion, crush and full-on fiesta that is the unbelievable San Fermin opening ceremony. And that is just the beginning. A further 7 days and 7 exceptionally long nights of virtually non-stop party follow. The way the Spanish party must be seen to be believed - IT IS the most amazing party in the world!
Carnival in Rio, scores of Hogmanays in Edinburgh, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Las Fellas in Valencia, dozens of La Tomatinas, over 30 Oktoberfests in Munich - been there and done that. Yes, they are great - but nothing in my opinion beats San Fermin for atmosphere and the ultimate Spanish party - and I have been saying so for 35 years now.
Introducing thousands and thousands of travellers to this astonishing fiesta has been an absolute privilege. But personally, and of more importance, has been spreading the word of the evil so-called "sport" of bull fighting. For years now it has been part of my ethos and for the company I am lucky to work for.
I have always believed in the San Firmin party - definitely not the bulls, when it comes to Pamplona's festival. And by introducing so many to the fiesta while at the same time opening so many minds to the cruelness of the bull fight, I believe we are on a correct pathway to ridding the world of the brutal event.
The fiesta of San Fermin has been around for nearly two thousand years. It is part of Spanish culture and it is going nowhere. It is so important to locals and has so much to offer visitors - I truly hope it is around for thousands more years. While the bull fight is only a small part of the festival - it has to go. Ignoring or boycotting the fiesta will not make this happen. Understanding the fiesta, enjoying it while at the same time learning about this cruel event will hopefully see the end of it. And I believe the tide is turning and can see this more and more in the visitors we bring to Pamplona annually. The more they understand about the fiesta and about the bullfighting, the more they want to see this part of it go and are also keen to spread the word with us.
Come next 6 July I again hope to be in the middle of Pamplona's town hall square, celebrating the beginning of San Fermin with thousands of happily snozzled Spaniards. And over the next 7 days continuing to educate our guests about the bull fight - with the aim of one day enjoying the world's greatest party without it.
"Pamplona Bull Fights - Hypocrisy from Two Sides of a Coin’"
- 25 year PP employee: Mark Minehan
I have always been an animal lover; I've always enjoyed the company of animals and always had animals as part of my family. But I was not really one to give a great deal of deep thought to animal treatment on any scale that might've surpassed the scope of my own backyard. Then I had two daughters ... and they are the two most important people in this world and when they talk, I listen!
I have been attending the Pamplona Fiesta of San Fermin with PP Travel since 1995. That year I also attended a bull fight to see what all the hype was about. I was disgusted and horrified at what I saw and vowed to never again attend such a spectacle. That humans would have you believe this so called "sport" is in any way a contest, is something I could just not understand. Bull fighting, I had decided, is nothing but organised public cruelty and I wanted no part of it.
The massive party in the streets of Pamplona during the yearly fiesta however, I saw as a separate entity, and for my mind something that must be experienced to be believed. Some of the best times and most fun I had ever experienced has been in those cobbled streets of the Pamplona old town. So it was that again, the following year (and now working for PP Travel), I was determined not to miss out on the fun of that fiesta and headed to Pamplona in early July. I stayed away from bull fights and spoke out against them to anyone who asked me what my stance was in regards to the practice but I continued to party on in Pamplona year after year, again without really giving thought to the bulls each evening of the fiesta. I had made many good Spanish friends by this time - all of a similar mind-set to me which was "out of sight is out of mind".
But age generally always matures a person (as does parenthood) and after 13 visits to Pamplona I finally missed a festival in 2008 as my first child was due to be born. By this time, I had already changed somewhat as a person and already evolved a more thoughtful psyche and developed a more ethical persona across the board. Now let us fast forward to the present ...
Why do I still operate tours to San Fermin in Pamplona? First, let me just say that I and all other staff members are all 100% against bull fighting. Period.
Between the 7th and the 14th of July bulls are tortured to death - there is no other way to describe it. We abhor this practice and both personally, and as a company, advise all our guests in person about this barbaric practice. We don't take people to see bull fights and we never attend ourselves. For years we've discussed abandoning the fiesta but have come to realise by being yet another company giving up on Pamplona would absolutely NOT halt the awful treatment of bulls. Those that are in the know state that if all tourists stopped coming to Pamplona for San Fermin, the fiesta would still go on and on. In fact, in recent years, the crowds have grown as more Spaniards are attending the festivities than ever before.
Over the past five years - on behalf of PP Travel - I have signed dozens of petitions against the treatment of animals (all over the world not just Pamplona), I have passionately spoken about my stance on the issue (it's no longer out of sight out of mind) and I have absolutely talked many people out of ever going to a bull fight, many of which instead, signed petitions with me after being well informed about how these wonderful creatures are treated.
The biggest change in thinking for me was bringing my two daughters to Pamplona (then aged 7 and 9) and showing them what we do as a company, how we approach animal activism, and advising them on our future ideas on how to spread the word further. Those little people, the only two people in this world from whom I'll accept judgement on my views, were very pleased with what they learnt about PP Travel and about our stance against bull fighting as individual people and as a company.
Sure, I could have simply stopped bringing people to Pamplona - as other companies have done - but I ask you now (and them if any are reading this blog) what else have those companies done since? How, as an ongoing concern, do they educate people on the barbaric practice of bull fighting? Have they spoken out in any other way? Have they signed any petitions?
I look at the festival of San Fermin in a different light. This festival will continue with or without myself or PP Travel. By continuing to operate we have the absolute best opportunity to put our case to our guests and to be able to provide accurate information. We will educate far more people on the cruelty of bull fights than ever possible than if we just ceased operations to the event.
To be clear - I hope to be around to see a total bull fight ban and we do believe this will be sooner rather than later. Morally, and in all honesty, it simply must be sooner. Pamplona's Mayor said before the festival in 2019 that he "couldn't imagine" the festival without bulls but he is open to "phasing them out". I welcome this news, but to take this further I do not think "phasing out" should be the target here - it should be an immediate cessation of all bull fighting now and forever! And that is the aim and vision of the company I am proud to work for.
A friend of mine said to me the other day that they were glad that so many people were taking small steps towards a better future. Obviously, I agreed. But I'll also let you in on what I replied to my friend at the time - "we don't need small steps - what we need is drastic action". This is something I believe applies to banning bull fights and any blood sport involving animals.
On this topic I will leave it up to someone much smarter than I to have the last word: "As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." - Pythagoras.
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