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Home / Dénia (Spain) halves events during notorious bull festival

Dénia (Spain) halves events during notorious bull festival


An important step has been taken towards improving animal welfare in Spain. In Dénia, Valencia, the afternoon sessions of the cruel bull festival Bous a la Mar (bull to water) will be stopped. Fewer bulls are used during the ‘Festa Major’, of which Bous a la Mar is a part, and the municipality is taking action to reduce the suffering of the bulls during the festival.

Bous a la Mar

Bous a la Mar | Photo: CAS/AnimaNaturalis

Controversial bull festival

During the summer months, the most cruel ‘bull festivals’ take place in Spain, involving bulls, cows and calves. Dénia is known for the controversial bull festival Bous a la Mar. During this festivity, bulls and cows are forced to jump into the sea. These animals are obviously not used to swimming and experience a lot of stress. Last summer, a bull even drowned during the bull festival. CAS International and AnimaNaturalis then called on the municipality to refrain from organising Bous a la Mar from now on.

Bull drowns during bull festival in Dénia, Spain


Dénia municipality’s decision is a milestone in the fight against bullfighting in Spain. It has announced to end the afternoon sessions of Bous a la Mar and reduce in the number of bulls used during the Festa Major, in honour of the Santíssima Sang. This year’s Festa Major will take place from 6 to 14 July.

The step is aimed at reducing animal suffering. It is a response to growing concerns about animal welfare and extreme weather conditions affecting both bulls and spectators. The councillor for festivities, Raúl Garçia de la Reina, explains that this decision is part of adjustments to current climatic conditions. He said:

“The fiestas are in the middle of July and in the afternoon the sun shines brightly. The high temperatures create a big risk for the animals.”


During the start of the festival on the first day, it is hugely chaotic and stressful for the animals because of the crowds of people and participants. Besides cancelling the afternoon session of Bous a la Mar, two of the three so-called ‘entradas’ are also cancelled. Only the one on the first day will continue. The animals are chased through the streets via the ‘entradas’ until they emerge at the port. From this spot, the animals have to jump into the sea during Bous a la Mar.

Animal cruelty in Dénia

Animal cruelty in Dénia | Photo: CAS/AnimaNaturalis

The new measure provokes different reactions. Supporters of animal rights see it as a step forward. Opponents such as the right-wing party Vox fear the decision will affect the local economy. According to De la Reina, the party should evolve over time. While Bous de la Mar used to be the highlight, the parade floats, culture, concerts and theatre now attract more public. Director of CAS International, Maite van Gerwen said:

“We are obviously very happy that the municipality is now taking actions to at least reduce the suffering and we hope that the municipality will not allow bull festivals and bullfights to take place at all in the future. As the municipality itself says, other festivities attract more crowds and tourists.”

18.000 bull festivities

CAS International and AnimaNaturalis have been investigating Spain’s cruel bull festivals since 2019. The study, which came out in September 2023, shows that at least 42 million in public money is spent annually on bull festivals. Every year, nearly 18.000 popular festivals involving bulls, cows and calves take place.

CAS presents results of investigation of cruel bull fiestas

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Summer full of animal suffering during Spanish fiestas