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Féria & Céret de Toros
17th July - 18th July
Céret Feria – Five Days of Bull
This annual bullfighting festival, complete with bull running through the streets, was cancelled in 2020 because of the sanitary crisis.
The 2021 event will go ahead in a limited version. There will be no street entertainment, market or music but, if that’s your idea of fun, you can book a seat in the arena to watch the fights.
How the feria usually goes…
The Féria and Céret de Toros weekend attracts an enormous amount of criticism and generates heated controversy, as much for the staggering drunkenness, which seems to be ‘de rigeur’ on the Friday and Saturday nights, as the perceived animal cruelty of these bullfights to the death, which take place in the purpose built bullring just out of town.
The Céret de Toros weekend has been going since the early 1990s but they are now finding it harder and harder to find corridas (bull fighters) to invite to the festival.
However, if you DO enjoy watching macho men on horseback run the bulls through the town to, later on in the arena, slaughter them (with all the dice stacked in their favour – see below) in this ‘fine sport’, then don’t miss the Feria Céret de Toros!
If like me, you find the whole process obnoxious, the Céret bullring is a place to avoid on this particular weekend. There are other festivities and it is a weekend of celebration, excitement, colour, dancing, drinking and music, which can all be enjoyed without the horror of the bullfight, as the bullring is slightly out of the centre of Céret.
The weekend itself, bulls apart, is two days of excessive everything – drinking, eating, market, music, street entertainment… and on Saturday, continuing throughout the night, more than the bulls gets slaughtered!!
All cafes and restaurants are closed (and some are covered in plastic in anticipation!!), or have outside stands, because food and drink, from a full meal to a burger, is on sale from the many ‘bodegas’ (street bars), run by the different ‘associations’ of Céret.
Please note, this is not for the faint-hearted, particularly late evening onwards if you are sober!
On the Saturday and Sunday afternoon, (check times with the Céret tourist office for exact details) many find the running of the ’vachettes’ quite exciting. The vachettes, confused and unhappy calves, with bull horns on their heads, are herded back and forth amongst the crowds by cowboys on horseback, while brave (?) and drunken spectators jump in front of them and try to grab the calf’s tail. READ MORE HERE.
Excerpt from Kate’s online diary
Bulls are not the only animals to get slaughtered in Céret over the féria weekend!
Céret last night was a seething mass of bodies in various stages of undress, swaying and staggering, swilling down beer and pastis, wine and spirits, screaming, dancing, laughing, vomiting and peeing against walls – and generally having a great time! It seems to be the aim of the Céretan, from 16 to 70 years old, normally a measured and sober citizen, to get absolutely wasted over this particular festival weekend.
Those who don’t want to do that tend to leave the town for the weekend or lock themselves away.
I love to see people having a good time, but not when they’ve just lurched into me, poured pastis down my leg and are now peeing up against a nearby shop window!! (although I suppose it would have been worse if it had been the other way round!)
There were quite a few gendarmes at the fête, waiting to catch drink-drivers on the way home no doubt – and most of them seemed to be drinking! I suppose they would be the only ones who could be sure of not being breathalised!
All this went on until early this morning (by which time I had been tucked up in bed for several hours) and, after a couple of hours off for good behaviour, began again this morning at 10h00!
(If you HAVE to go, you might as well understand on whose side the dice are firmly stacked – and it ain’t the bull!!)
A bullfight in which the bulls are aged at least four years old (toros).
The bulls are only aged about three years old (novillos). The term bullfight can be applied to either a corrida or a novillada.
Anyone taking part in the bullfight – not to be confused with “toreador” which does not exist in modern bullfighting, having been popularised by Bizet in his opera “Carmen”.
Literally means “shaved”. It refers to an illegal practice whereby the bull breeder is bribed to take off the tip of the bull’s horns and then file them back to a point. As the bull uses its horns in a way a cat does its whiskers to measure distance, in theory this means it should always fall short when trying to catch the torero.
There are three tercios (thirds) to both novilladas and corridas. The first tercio involves the caping of the bull by the matador or novillero and the act of the picador; the second tercio is the act of banderillas and the final tercio consists of the faena and the death of the bull.
In the first tercio, the picador uses a pica (also known as a vara), a lance with a steel point (puya) from horseback to weaken the bull’s neck muscles so that its head is lowered for the kill.
Picadors are not used in some novilladas which are referred to as “novilladas sin picadores” (novilladas without picadors). These are usually for novilleros who have just started out.
A torero who works in the team (cuadrilla) of a matador or novillero and in the second tercio places the banderillas (barbed sticks), into the bulls back. After charging the picador’s horse, a bull can be tired and the banderillas are supposed to enliven it for the final part of the bullfight.
Some matadors and novilleros place their own banderillas. If a bull refuses to charge the picador, banderillas negras (black banderillas) may be used which are longer and heavier with bigger barbs.
It is considered shameful to the bull breeder if these have to be used but they are rarely called upon nowadays.
A big work cape, magenta on the outside and yellow (sometimes blue) on the inside. It is used by all the toreros but in the final tercio the matador or novillero will change it for the muleta, made from red flannel on a wooden stick, which he will use for the faena.
All the work done with a muleta by a matador or novillero in the final and most important tercio of the bullfight.
A matador has ten minutes from the start of the tercio in which to kill the bull. If, after this time it is still alive, the President will order an aviso (warning) to be sounded.
A second aviso is sounded after a further three minutes and a third and final aviso after a further two minutes.
After three avisos steers are let into the ring to take the bull out alive and it is regarded as a great disgrace to a matador’s reputation.
Before commencing the faena, the matador or novillero will doff his montera (hat) to the president of the bullring (an official appointed by law to supervise the bullfight) and ask permission to kill the bull. He may then offer a brindis (salute) and dedicate the death of the bull to someone in the audience, another torero or the whole audience itself.
If the brindis is to one person, he will give them his montera for the duration of the faena, sometimes throwing it over his shoulder. If it is to the whole crowd he will lay his montera down in the centre of the ring or throw it over his shoulder for luck. If it lands upside down in the sand it is considered unlucky.
At the end of the faena the matador or novillero will attempt to place a sword (estoque) between the shoulder blades of the bull which is meant to sever the aorta. This thrust is known as an estocada.
If this fails to bring the bull down, he will use another sword with a crosspiece near its end (descabello) to sever the bull’s spinal cord with a thrust just behind the back of its head. As soon as the bull is down, a banderillero will jab a small knife (puntilla) into this area as a coup de grace.
If a bull has shown exceptional bravery and the crowd petition the president of the bullring before it is killed, he will grant an indulto (pardon) and spare the bull’s life. The kill is then simulated using a banderilla or an empty hand. The bull will usually then become a semental (stud bull).
Once the bull is dead a team of mules or horses drag the carcass out of the ring to butchers waiting outside and it is sold as meat. Sometimes a brave performance by a bull will result in the crowd petitioning the president after it has been killed for it to be given a vuelta (lap) of the ring. The bull’s carcass is then dragged around the ring by a team of horses or mules to the applause of the crowd and it is a great honour for the bull’s breeder.
Awarded to the matador or novillero following an outstanding performance.
With the consent of the crowd, he might take a lap around the ring. If the majority of the crowd petition the President, usually by way of waving white handkerchiefs (panuelos), he has to award one ear.
If the crowd petitions and the President himself considers that the performance has been outstanding, he may award two ears. If the president considers the performance to have been exceptional, he will award two ears and a tail (dos orejas y rabo) also known as “los maximos trofeos”.
The trofeos are cut from the dead bull and presented to the matador or novillero who then takes one or more vuelta of the ring. If he has cut at least two ears in the whole bullfight, he is entitled to be carried out of the ring on the shoulders of the crowd (salida en hombros).
A poster advertising a bullfight but also referring to the collection of matadors or novilleros who will appear. Normally there are three matadors or novilleros who will fight two bulls each.
The most senior will appear at the top of the list and will fight the first and third bulls. The second-most senior appears second and fights the second and fifth bull and the junior appears bottom of the list and fights the third and sixth bull. If only two matadors or novilleros are appearing, it is known as a “mano a mano” (hand to hand) and they will fight three bulls each.
Seniority is decided by the date when a matador took the alternativa, or when a novillero first fought in a novillada with picadors. Occasionally a matador or novillero will appear alone (en solitario/unica espada) and fight all six bulls.
If there is a combination of matadors and novilleros or rejoneadors on the same cartel it is known as a “corrida mixta” (mixed corrida). Some carteles announce a string of bullfights for a whole “feria” (fair) held to celebrate local festivities, during which there will usually be a bullfight each day.
A rejoneador fights the bull from horseback in the style of the Portuguese “cavaleiros” using rejones de castigo (punishment spears) in place of a pica, banderillas and a rejon de muerte (spear of death) in place of an estoque. If he fails to kill the bull with the rejon de muerte, he must dismount and use a descabello.
A rejoneador can fight either toros or novillos and also takes an alternativa to graduate to the former. A bullfight with a cartel comprised entirely of rejoneadores is known as a rejoneo.
plaza de toros
The bullring. As the sun will predominantly shine on one side of the ring, that section is known as the “Sol” (Sun) and seats are cheaper there. The side predominantly in the shade is known as the “Sombra” (shade).
During the fight there will be areas where the sun will go down and also areas where the sun may appear. These may be sold as “Sol y Sombra”, cheaper than the Sombra but more expensive than the Sol.
The biggest bullring in the world is the Plaza Monumental in Mexico City. The biggest bullring in Europe is the Plaza Monumental de Las Ventas in Madrid.
Two white rings are painted in the arena because the picador has to remain outside the outer circle to receive the bull’s charge in the first tercio and the toreros must station the bull inside the inner circle before it can charge the picador.
Literally “a drawing of lots”. On the day of the bullfight, usually at noon, representatives of the matadors or novilleros will attend the corral of the bullring to decide which of the string of bulls will be fought by their employer.
Bulls are sometimes matched up so that the heaviest and the lightest, the one with the biggest horns and the one with the smallest horns, etc are put together in pairs.
The numbers of the bulls are written on pieces of paper and placed in a hat and the representatives draw one out each which decides which bulls their employer will fight. Following the sorteo is the “apartado” (separating) of the bulls into individual pens where they are left until they are required in the bullfight.
Where bulls are run through the streets and corredores (runners) attempt to run in front and alongside them as closely as possible.
The most famous encierros are held in Pamplona but they are also held in Logroño, San Sebastian de Los Reyes, Cuellar, Tudela, Tolosa and elsewhere.
The bulls in the Pamplona encierros are the actual bulls that will be fought that afternoon although this may not be the case in other places.[/vc_cta]