Dominic Bonuccelli travelled to Spain on assignment for Lonely Planet. You can follow his adventures on Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled, screening internationally on National Geographic. Here, Dominic visits the Galician town of Allariz to experience the thrills, spills and raging bulls of Festa do Boi (Festival of the Ox).
Castrated bulls are housed in the Casa do Boi (House of the Oxen) in the center of Allariz all week until their moment to shine. This nervous ox was resting peacefully till I mortified him with my flash.
The influence of ancient Celtic tribes is still very much alive in Galicia: here, traditional musicians (gaiteros) entertain the crowd in the main plaza before the evening's bull run.
When his turn comes, the bull will burst from the open door of his pen and run a giant circle through town. Though he's loosely guided by the sticks of his handlers, he's free to choose his own course – whether it be a direct 10-minute circuit or a meandering hour-long sprint through the cobblestone labyrinth.
A crack team of 10-15 white-clad men orchestrate numerous bull runs over the many days of Corpus Christi. In Allariz – unlike Pamplona – only one bull runs at a time, tethered to his human handlers with rope.
Led by this distinguished gentleman, and armed with nothing but a rope leash and sticks, the bull-handlers steer each ox through town, attempting to prevent unnecessary injury to man, animal and property.
Attached to buildings around town, metal rings serve as hitching posts for the bulls when their handlers need a breather during the run. In this photo, runners and drunks taunt an unimpressed bull tied to a ring at City Hall in the main plaza.
Who would've thought it? Young men and drunken revellers make up the vast majority of bull-runners in Allariz's main plaza.
More than 1000 pounds of rippling muscle, the ox can't always be controlled by long sticks alone. Sometimes he'll change route mid-flight and make an abrupt, unexpected detour. The screaming masses have no option but to follow.
Every year, a group of Portuguese drummers roadtrips to Allariz to lend a musical military air to the proceedings. The thunderous beats resound off the buildings throughout the day, wake the revellers every morning, and cause the players' hands to bleed...
Dinner of the Neighbours sees thousands of boisterous locals descend upon a park on the fringes of town for a festive banquet, with gaiteros providing the entertainment.
¡Viva la Evolucion, siempre! Even Che Guevara makes a cameo appearance, as an ox, during Festa do Boi...