The Sanfermin´s Txupinazo Rocket open ceremony

The explosion of the fireworks rocket at midday on the 6th of July is the signal for the start of nine days of non-stop partying

This moment is marked by a rocket -the “Txupinazo”- which is set off to announce the start of the Fiesta. All morning, crowds gather in the “Plaza Ayuntamiento”. It is often a hot day and there is not an inch of free space in the packed Square. The passion and intensity grows every minute until it reaches a crescendo at midday. At that point the Mayor and members of the Council step out onto the balconies of the Town Hall to greet the crowds.

A nominated person shouts the announcement; “Pamploneses, Pamplonesas, Viva San Fermín! Gora San Fermín!” (people of Pamplona, long live San Fermín!) The crowd responds with cries of “Viva!” and “Gora!” and the rocket is launched into the sky.

At this moment the Square erupts as hundreds of bottles of Champagne are uncorked and sprayed liberally over the crammed crowd. The smart, clean clothes of the excited people take their first, but not their last soaking from the jets of spraying Champagne. All over the city the same collective madness bursts out and a whole new atmosphere reigns in the town.

The first bout of drinking has started as thousands of bottles of champagne are guzzled down for the start of an uninterrupted party until the day of the 14th of July arrives. Within a few hours many people will be on a high that will last for the whole week. The Txupinazo begins a high that for many people will last the whole week.


How to take part in the Txupinazo rocket

If you want to get right in there among the packed crowd it means getting there an hour before and pushing your way in among the packed crowd. If you want to see the spectacle then the best place would be from any one of the many balconies of private houses which surround the square. But of course that means getting an invite from of the owners or to rent the balconies of The square is so crammed that it might be better just to go along to one of the surrounding streets where you can feel the atmosphere of the whole thing. Or you can just do the same as many of the locals do, and watch it from the T.V. in some bar or other.

Inside the square

If you want to get right in there among the packed crowd it means getting there an hour before and pushing your way in among the packed crowd. To experience the whole spectacle in this way is unique of course, but remember that you won’t be able to move a muscle in the tight space. It will also very likely be teeming hot even if the heat is only coming from the milling crowd of sweating drinking singing bodies crammed together. Some young people make a very disgusting mixings: quetchup, cacao, mustard, flour, saving foam, etc. The whole thing can be so suffocating that people from the balconies often pour buckets of water over the crammed crowd to give them some relief. There can sometimes be waves of bodies pushed forward and some people can fall to the ground among the avalance of people. When it’s all over the departing crowd often look like they have just come out of an old washing machine what with all the water, champagne and sweating.

There are always some first-aid posts to attend to those who have fainted or bruised themselves, though it has never gotten more serious than something like that.


© Javier Martínez de la Puente 

Open ceremony advices (Chupinazo tricks)

It’s no place for kids. They could get stepped on and at their height there is not much air moving round.
It’s no place for wearing sandals or light shoes. You’re going to get stepped on and also many people drop their empty champagne bottles on the ground when they have finished them, so broken glass is to be found all over the square.
Don’t wear any clothes that you value, and this is good advice for the whole of the Fiesta.
Don’t take your camera or any valuables with you. Taking decent photos will be impossible with all the liquid spraying round. And if you drop anything like your wallet or whatever it could be difficult to look for it among the packed crowd.
If you don’t want to see it inside the plaza, you can just do the same as many of the locals do, and watch it from the T.V. in some bar or other or at the big screens at the Plaza del Castillo.


Open ceremony from our balcony

If you can watch the Open Ceremony from a balcony we can offer to you the best of them. Surely the best balcony to watch the Open Ceremony with the rocket launch (The Txupinazo). You can be exclusive witness of the Fiesta from a safe and privileged position. Our local guides (Spanish, English, French) accompany you to the apartment, from which you can watch the event while enjoying a typical snack with drinks.


© Javier Martínez de la Puente.  

Who launches the txupinazo opening rocket?

In fact, this custom of setting off the rocket from the City Hall balcony only dates from 1941. Even then it was not a very complicated issue as to who would have the honor. It was always the President of the Festive Commission. Thus, if we look up the list of past names, the same name will often repeat several times. If anyone wanted to stand out in the crowd then this custom was a good chance for them to be in the limelight and it continued without much variation up until 1979.

By this time, live television coverage began and launching the opening txupinazo rocket took on even more importance. Too important for a mere councilor who simply organized the fiesta program. However, once the mayor, Juan Manuel Pérez Balda (1980) had had his turn, he passed the honor onto another councilor, Benicio Aguerrea, since he felt that once was enough for anyone to do it. >From then on, it was decided to rotate the honor between the different parties and councilors in City Hall. And so, in 1981 the female councilor, Elisa Chacartegui, became the first woman to set off the rocket in this way. So, the dominant political party has first choice and then it will pass to the smaller groups in order. The selfsame party will decide which of their councilors has the honor to set off the rocket.


© Zubieta y Retegui. Joaquín Ilundáin y José María Pérez Salazar en 1939 cuando retoman el lanzamiento del Txupinazo. 

List of the persons who have set off the “Txupinazo” opening rocket since 1941

1941 – 1950

1941. Joaquín Ilundáin
1942. Joaquín Ilundáin
1943. Jaime del Burgo
1944. Jaime del Burgo
1945. Miguel Troncoso
1946. Miguel Troncoso
1947. Joaquín Ilundáin
1948. Joaquín Ilundáin
1949. José Mª Martinicorena
1950. José Mª Martinicorena

1951 – 1960

1951. José Mª Martinicorena
1952. Nicolás Ibarra
1953. Nicolás Ibarra
1954. Nicolás Ibarra
1955. Adrián Endériz
1956. Adrián Endériz
1957. Adrián Endériz
1958. César Fonseca
1959. César Fonseca
1960. Juan Miguel Arrieta

1961 – 1970

1961. Juan Miguel Arrieta
1962. Juan Miguel Arrieta
1963. Juan Miguel Arrieta
1964. Manuel Fraga *
1965. Lorenzo Martinicorena
1966. Lorenzo Martinicorena
1967. Agustín Latorre
1968. Agustín Latorre
1969. Agustín Latorre
1970. Agustín Latorre
* No son concejales

1971 – 1980

1971. Joaquín Rouzaut
1972. Joaquín Sáez
1973. Manuel Huici
1974. Joaquín Rouzaut
1975. Francisco Javier Iraburu
1976. Joaquín Sáez
1977. Joaquín Sáez
1978. Juan Frommknecht
1979. Juan Manuel Pérez Balda
1980. Benicio Aguerrea

1981 – 1990

1981. Elisa Chacartegui
1982. Patxi Zabaleta
1983. Marisol Elizari
1984. Juan Cruz Alli
1985. Iñaki Beorlegui
1986. Joaquín Salanueva
1987. José Javier Gortari
1988. Javier Iturbe
1989. Elías Antón
1990. Elena Modrego

1991 – 2000

1991. Alfredo Jaime, comparte con José María Pérez Salazar y Joaquín Ilundáin.
1992. Joaquín Pascal
1993. Mariné Pueyo
1994. Javier Ayesa
1995. José Javier Echeverría
1996. Javier Igal
1997. Javier Chourraut
1998. Concha Fernández de Pinedo
1999. Yolanda Barcina
2000. César Palacios *

2001 – 2010

2001. Fermín Tajadura *
2002. Roberto Jiménez
2003. Juan Luis Sánchez de Muniain
2004. Jorge Mori
2005. Idoia Saralegui
2006. Javier Eskubi
2007. Yolanda Barcina
2008. Uxue Barcos
2009. Maite Esporrín
2010. Mari Ganuza * 150 Aniversario de la Comparsa.

2011 – 2020

2011. Enrique Maya
2012. Iñaki Cabasés
2013. Eduardo Vall + ONCE
2014. Cruz Roja*
2015. Javier Aranegui (Orfeón Pamplonés) y Chantal Estrada (Peña La Veleta)*
* They are no councils.