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Showers of wine kick off Pamplona's San Fermin festival

Jesus Diges / EPA

Thousands of people celebrate the start of the San Fermin Festival 2012 raising their red scarfs after the opening ceremony 'Chupinazo,' which starts, as every year, at midday in the Plaza Consistorial outside the City Hall in Pamplona, Navarra, Spain, on July 6. The fiesta of Sanfermines runs from 06 to 14 July. The festival commemorates St. Fermin, Pamplona's patron saint.

Rafa Rivas / AFP - Getty Images

Participants gather to celebrate the 'Chupinazo' to mark the start at noon sharp of the San Fermin Festival on July 6, in front of the Town Hall of Pamplona, northern Spain. Tens of thousands of people packed Pamplona's streets for a drunken kick-off to Spain's best-known fiesta: the nine-day San Fermin bull-running festival.

Alvaro Barrientos / AP

Australian revelers enjoy as they drink from a small wineskin, in Pamplona, northern Spain, on July 6, to celebrate the start of Spain's most famous bull-running festival with the annual launch of the "chupinazo" rocket. Perhaps best glorified by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises," the San Fermin festival is known around the world for the daily running of the bulls.

Eloy Alonso / Reuters

Revellers celebrate at the start of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona on July 6.The annual festival, best known for its daily running of the bulls, kicked off on Friday with the traditional "Chupinazo" rocket launch and will run until July 14.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP

Revelers take part on the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas, Friday, July 6, in Pamplona, Spain. Revelers from around the world kick off the San Fermin festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

AP reports -- PAMPLONA, Spain - Tens of thousands of revelers showered each other with sparkling wine and waved red kerchiefs Friday as the blast of a small rocket signaled the start of this year's running of the bulls.

Spain's most famous summer festival kicked off in the jam-packed and cobblestoned main square of the northern town of Pamplona. People from around the world, many wearing the traditional red kerchief and white shirt and pants, roared their approval as an official on a city hall balcony declared the San Fermin festival under way. He then lit the rocket, its boom echoing through the plaza.

 Revelers sprayed each other with white wine, water and other liquids, and pelted each other with flour, making for a pasty but merry mess. Huge plastic balls used to advertise products and services bounced atop the crowd.

Read the full story.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP

Revelers are sprayed with water after the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas, on July 6, in Pamplona, Spain. Revelers from around the world kick off the San Fermin festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

Ivan Aguinaga / AP

Revelers celebrate during the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas, Friday, July 6, in Pamplona, Spain. Revelers from around the world kick off the San Fermin festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.

Susana Vera / Reuters

Revelers hold up their red scarves during the start of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, on July 6. The annual festival, best known for its daily running of the bulls, kicked off on Friday with the traditional "Chupinazo" rocket launch and will run until July 14.

Ivan Aguinaga) / AP

A musical band march during the 'Chupinazo', the official opening of the 2012 San Fermin fiestas, on July 6, in Pamplona, Spain. Revelers from around the world kick off the San Fermin festival with a messy party in the Pamplona town square, one day before the first of eight days of the running of the bulls.