The San Fermin festival in Pamplona, in northern Spain, attracts over one million visitors every year. Although chiefly famous for the running of the bulls, the week-long festival is also a celebration of Basque folklore and tradition.

The festival is held in honour of Saint Fermin, patron saint of Navarra and first bishop of Pamplona, who is believed to protect those who participate in the running of the bulls. Fermin is said to have been the son of a Roman senator who lived in the third century. He was ordained as a priest in France and returned to Pamplona as its first bishop.

According to legend, he was beheaded on 25 September 303 and is now considered a martyr in the Catholic Church. However, some say he was dragged through the street with bulls chasing him, hence the tradition in Pamplona.

Pamplona San Fermin
The statue of San Fermin is carried through the streets of Pamplona during a procession in honour of the patron saint of Navarra and first bishop of PamplonaEloy Alonso/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
A woman prays during a procession in honour of San FerminSusana Vera/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
A woman and a boy look up as a statue of San Fermin, dating from the 15th century, is paraded through the streets of the town in honour of the patron saint of Navarra and first bishop of PamplonaEloy Alonso/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
A boy kisses the statue of San Fermin, patron saint of Navarra and first bishop of Pamplona, who is believed to protect the hundreds of revellers that participate in the running of the bullsSusana Vera/Reuters

The annual festival kicks off with the traditional firing of a rocket called the Chupinazo, which is followed by a wine-soaked celebration in the city square.

Giant figures are paraded through the city every morning of the festival. These figures, known as kilikis, chase children and hit them with a sponge.

Pamplona San Fermin
Caravinagre (Vinegar Face) holds a baby during the Comparsa de Gigantes y Cabezudos (Giants and Big Heads) paradePablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
A boy is chased by a Kiliki during the traditional Parade of the Giants and Big Heads in Pamplona. Kilikis, figures wearing oversized masks, playfully hit bystanders with sponges on sticks as they parade daily through the cityEloy Alonso/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
Figures dance through the streets during the Parade of the Giants and the Big Heads in PamplonaJoseba Etxaburu/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
People attend the parade of Gigantes and Cabezudos (Giants and Large Head Puppets) as part of the San Fermin Festival in PamplonaCesar Manso/AFP
Pamplona San Fermin
Women react as they are hit with a sponge the Parade of Giants and Big Heads in PamplonaSusana Vera/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
A woman is embraced by a Kiliki during San Fermin festival's Comparsa de Gigantes y Cabezudos (Parade of Giants and Big Heads)Vincent West/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
A reveller's face is seen through the mouth of one of Pamplona's traditional big headsPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

A metal bull spouting fireworks from its horns terrifies those too young to take part in the running of the bulls.

The festival is also a celebration of traditional Basque pursuits such as stone carrying, wood carving and hay bale lifting.

Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers run from the Flaming Bull, a man carrying a metal structure shaped like a bull and loaded with fireworksJoseba Etxaburu/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
Children run through the streets of Pamplona as they are chased by the Toro de Fuego (Flaming bull)David Ramos/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
People take cover as the Toro de Fuego (flaming bull) runs through the streets of PamplonaPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
A competitor carries a heavy stone during the rural Basque sports championship at the San Fermin festivalMiguel Riopa/AFP
Pamplona San Fermin
Patxi Larretxea cheers the tronzalaris (men using a traditional Basque saw) during a rural sports eventsAnder Gillenea/AFP
Pamplona San Fermin
Ana Iraizoz comforts her sister and teammate Ainhoa after she sawed a tree trunk during a rural Basque sports event as part of the San Fermin festival in PamplonaAnder Gillenea/AFP

Traditional dances attended by the locals are held every evening, while the tourists engage in yet another bout of drinking themselves into a stupor, perhaps to give them enough courage to face the bulls – or an excuse not to have to.

Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers take part in a traditional dance on the third day of the San Fermin festival in PamplonaDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers take part in the traditional El Baile de la Alpargata (Espadrille Dance) in the Casino Principal ClubDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
Members of the band perform during the traditional El Baile de la Alpargata (Espadrille Dance) in the Casino Principal Club in PamplonaDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
People dance on a square in Pamplona during the San Fermin festivalPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
Basque dancers perform during the parade of Gigantes and Cabezudos (Giants and Large Head Puppets)Cesar Manso/AFP
Pamplona San Fermin
People dressed in traditional red and white clothes sit around a fan to cool off themselves in PamplonaMiguel Riopa/AFP
Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers walk along the streets during the San Fermin festival in PamplonaPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers enjoy the atmosphere around a statue depicting the running of the bulls in PamplonaDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers sleep on the street after a heavy night in PamplonaSusana Vera/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
Revellers sleep it off at the Plaza del Castillo on the seventh day of the San Fermin festival in PamplonaVincent West/Reuters
Pamplona San Fermin
A reveler sits on a doorstep in the early morning, surrounded by rubbishAnder Gillenea/AFP
Pamplona San Fermin
A reveller sleeps in a public park during the opening day of the San Fermin festival in PamplonaDavid Ramos/Getty Images
Pamplona San Fermin
A couple embrace on the grass in a park during the San Fermin festival in PamplonaEloy Alonso/Reuters