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Spain's famous running of the bulls festival begins in Pamplona's packed streets

  • Spain Bulfighting Protest-1.jpg

    A butterfly rests on the finger of an anti-bullfighting demonstrator a she protest against the bulls runs, on the Ayuntamiento Square in Pamplona northern Spain, Saturday, July 5, 2014. On July 6, the San Fermin festival will begin with the ''txupinazo'' , the opening ceremony with people participating in bull runs, music and dance, through the old street of the city. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)The Associated Press

  • Spain Bulfighting Protest-2.jpg

    Anti-bullfighting demonstrators, with their bodies covered with blood, right, protest against the bull runs on the Ayuntamiento Square in Pamplona northern Spain, Saturday, July 5, 2014. On July 6, the San Fermin festival will begin with the ''txupinazo'' , the opening ceremony with people participating in bull runs, music and dance, through the old street of the city. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)The Associated Press

  • Spain Bullfighting Protest -3.jpg

    A butterfly rests on the finger of an anti-bullfighting demonstrator a she protest against the bulls runs, while displaying a banner which reads, ''You Run. Bulls Die'', on the Ayuntamiento Square in Pamplona northern Spain, Saturday, July 5, 2014. On July 6, the San Fermin festival will begin with the ''txupinazo'' , the opening ceremony with people participating in bull runs, music and dance, through the old street of the city. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)The Associated Press

Thousands of people have crammed into the main square and adjacent narrow streets of Spain's Pamplona for the start of the famed San Fermin running of the bulls festival.

The fiesta, an uproarious blend of hair-raising daily bull runs and all-night partying, was immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises."

Revelers wearing traditional white outfits trimmed with red neckerchiefs and cummerbunds gathered for Sunday noon's launching of a firework rocket, which signals the beginning of the nine-day festival.

The regional government of Navarra said this year's festivities would be patrolled by 3,500 police to keep the adrenaline and alcohol-fueled events as safe as possible.

Animal rights activists protested Saturday, warning that 48 bulls are killed at the festival each year.