Experience Running of the Bulls in New Orleans
Have you always dreamed of running from the raging bulls in the crowded streets of Pamplona? You don’t have to travel all the way to Spain this summer to get the bull-running experience you’ve always wanted. Instead, come to New Orleans and run from the Big Easy Rollergirls at the city’s own version of Running of the Bulls, San Fermin in Nueva Orleans!
This exciting event will get your blood pumping as you run from derby girls that will not hesitate to chase you and whack you with wiffle ball bats. The unique festival is an homage to New Orleans’ Spanish heritage, with a laid-back attitude that distinguishes it from the Spanish original (plus, you know, no goring).
Running of the Bulls will be held on August 23-35, centering around the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd.) in downtown New Orleans. There will be an opening and closing parties, and a whole lot of fun planned before and after the actual run.
Running for Your Life (Or For the Food and Drinks)
New Orleans knows how to have a good time, and that will be made evident when you attend the main event of the festival, the Encierro, on Saturday. The run starts and ends at the Sugar Mill, and the fun kicks off early. Very early, in fact. The crowds start to gather around the Sugar Mill at 6:30 a.m., and the party begins with live music, drinks, and food trucks. After the Procession of San Fermin and the Invocation to honor St. Fermin, patron saint of Pamplona, the race starts at 8 a.m. sharp.
The runners for this event are to wear white, with a piece of red cloth around the neck or waist to show the bulls they are ready. You don’t have to stop there, however, as many runners will come clothed in imaginative costumes and gear you will just have to see to believe.
The “bulls,” or Big Easy Rollergirls (plus the participants from the other roller derby leagues across the country), skate quickly behind the runners, and upon catching up to them, will proceed to whack them with wiffle ball bats. The derby girls wear red and black with horns and various other accessories meant to intimidate the runners.
The run lasts till about 11:30 a.m. (check out the route here), followed by a live music show back at the Sugar Mill. After that, you can attend the traditional La Fiesta de Pantalones, held this year at the Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St.) starting at 11:30 a.m., or join the other revelers who stick around to make a day of it bar-crawling downtown.
The Opening and Closing Parties
On Friday, the festival opens with El Txupinazo (and pronounced “el choo-pin-AHT-so”), hosted by one of the charities that benefits from this festival, Beth’s Friends Forever, at the Sugar Mill, 5-9 p.m. There will be an auction, live music, and food from Apolline, Atchafalaya, Bacchanal, Commander’s Palace, Sobou, and Tavolino.
Recover the next day after the race at Sunday’s annual event, El Pobre de Mi (“Poor Me”), an Ernest Hemingway-themed party at Lula Restaurant Distillery (1532 St. Charles Ave.), 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., with Roxie Le Rouge’s Big Deal Burlesque, cocktails, and a Papa Hemingway look-a-like contest. This is a non-ticketed event, and there’re no cover.
All events happening on Friday and Saturday are ticketed (tickets are $30-$95). Proceeds go to Beth’s Friends Forever, a charity named after Nola Bulls cofounder Beth Hanning, which raises money for the local women fighting cancer, and the Big Easy Animal Rescue.
Sign up for Running of the Bulls in New Orleans today, and be sure to book your room at Hotel St. Marie, conveniently located in the New Orleans French Quarter and close to all the action!