Bullfights in Spain: Are They Legal Today?

  • By: Alice Davis
  • Date: March 27, 2024
  • Time to read: 13 min.
Alice Davis
I'm Alice Davis, a fervent advocate for sustainable living and organic farming. With a profound connection to the land, I'm dedicated to sharing my knowledge and passion for wholesome agriculture through insightful articles and guides. Join me in nurturing a greener, more nourished world, harvest by harvest.

Welcome to our article on bullfights in Spain! If you’ve ever wondered about the legality of this age-old tradition, you’re in the right place. In this section, we will explore the current legal status of bullfighting in Spain and the regulations surrounding it.

Spain has a complex relationship with bullfighting, with opinions on the practice varying widely. While the country has implemented animal welfare laws that prohibit recreational activities causing animals pain and suffering, bullfighting is exempted due to its cultural significance. It is considered an integral part of Spain’s cultural heritage and is not affected by the ban on using animals for entertainment purposes.

The animal welfare law in Spain introduces fines for mistreatment of domestic animals and promotes responsible pet ownership. However, bullfighting remains a legal and highly debated activity in the country.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bullfights are still legal in Spain due to their cultural importance and exemption from the ban on using animals for entertainment purposes.
  • Spain has implemented animal welfare laws that promote responsible pet ownership and impose fines for mistreatment of domestic animals.
  • The legality of bullfighting in Spain is a contentious topic, with passionate arguments from both supporters and opponents of the practice.
  • Bullfighting is considered an art form and part of Spain’s cultural heritage by its proponents.
  • Despite opposition from animal welfare organizations, bullfighting remains legal in Spain, continuing to draw tourists and spectators from around the world.

Bullfighting’s Legal Status in Spain and Other Countries

Bullfighting is deeply rooted in Spanish culture and has been a legal tradition in Spain for centuries. Despite growing calls for its ban, bullfights are allowed and continue to be practiced in various regions across the country.

Spain’s strong attachment to bullfighting is evident in the passage of a new animal welfare law. While this law prohibits the use of animals for entertainment purposes, it explicitly exempts bullfights, recognizing them as an essential part of Spain’s cultural heritage.

However, Spain is not the only country where bullfighting remains legal. Portugal, France, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador are among the nations where bullfighting is considered a legal and culturally significant activity.

On the other hand, several countries have banned bullfighting due to animal welfare concerns. Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy, and the United Kingdom are some of the countries that have taken a stance against bullfighting. These countries have implemented laws or regulations to prohibit this controversial practice.

Bullfighting Bans in Other Countries

In addition to outright bans, some nations have adopted modified forms of bullfighting that strive to minimize harm to the animals involved. This includes the United States, where traditional bullfighting is not allowed, but bloodless versions are permitted.

These modified forms, such as freestyle bullfighting and Portuguese-style bullfighting, have gained popularity in certain parts of the United States. Bloodless bullfighting employs different techniques to demonstrate skills and athleticism while ensuring that the bulls are not harmed.

Here is a table highlighting the legal status of bullfighting in select countries:

CountryLegal Status
United KingdomBanned

Despite the bans and controversies surrounding bullfighting, its legal status varies globally, reflecting the complex balance between cultural traditions, animal welfare concerns, and societal values.

Next, we will explore the specific details of bullfighting in Madrid, Spain’s capital city, and shed light on the bullfighting season in Madrid.

Bullfighting in Madrid

Bullfighting is a cherished tradition in Madrid, the vibrant capital city of Spain. Despite multiple attempts to impose local bans, the sport remains legal and continues to captivate both locals and tourists alike.

The grandeur of bullfighting is showcased at the iconic Las Ventas bullring, which stands as a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage. This magnificent arena hosts bullfights from March to October, offering visitors a chance to witness this ancient tradition firsthand.

The highlight of the bullfighting season in Madrid is the festival of San Isidro, which takes place during May and June. During this time, the city comes alive with excitement as enthusiasts flock to Las Ventas to experience the thrill and spectacle of this historic event.

Bullfighting Season in Madrid

MarchBullfights commence, marking the start of the season.
MayThe festival of San Isidro begins, attracting thousands of spectators.
JuneThe festival of San Isidro continues with more bullfights and festivities.
OctoberThe bullfighting season comes to a close, concluding with a grand finale.

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Despite its controversial nature, bullfighting remains deeply embedded in Madrid’s cultural fabric. The city’s love for this age-old tradition draws large crowds and contributes to its unique allure. Whether you are a passionate admirer or simply curious to experience a significant part of Spanish culture, attending a bullfight in Madrid offers a captivating insight into this revered tradition.

Bullfighting in Mexico

Bullfighting has a long-standing tradition in Mexico, where it is legal and celebrated as a cultural event. Mexico is home to the world’s largest bullring, Plaza México, located in Mexico City. Despite some states banning bullfighting, such as Sonora, Guerrero, and Coahuila, the sport remains legal and widely practiced in many other parts of the country.

One of the cities where bullfighting continues to thrive is Puerto Vallarta, a popular tourist destination on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The city’s bullring attracts both locals and visitors who appreciate the artistry and spectacle of the bullfight. Bullfighting in Mexico encompasses traditional elements, including the participation of skilled matadors and the dramatic confrontation between man and bull.

While bullfighting has its opponents who argue against its perceived cruelty, it continues to hold a significant place in Mexican culture and draws passionate audiences. Supporters of the tradition believe that bullfighting is an art form that exemplifies bravery, skill, and the country’s cultural heritage.

“Bullfighting is an integral part of our Mexican identity, passed down through generations. It showcases the artistry and courage of the matadors and is deeply intertwined with our cultural heritage.” – Mexican Bullfighting Enthusiast

Legal Status of Bullfighting in Mexico

The legal status of bullfighting in Mexico is a complex matter. While some states have implemented bans, others continue to allow and regulate the practice. The absence of a nationwide ban reflects the diversity in attitudes and traditions among Mexico’s regions.

Here is an overview of the current legal status of bullfighting in Mexico:

StateLegal Status
Mexico CityLegal

As shown in the table, the legal status of bullfighting varies from state to state in Mexico. It’s important to note that laws and regulations regarding bullfighting may evolve over time, reflecting changing societal attitudes and concerns for animal welfare.

Bullfighting in Mexico continues to be a topic of debate, with advocates emphasizing its cultural significance and opponents focusing on the ethical treatment of animals. The ongoing discussion reflects the complex intersection of tradition, art, and societal values.

American Bullfighting: A Modified Tradition

In the United States, bullfighting takes on a modified form and is not banned outright. While the traditional bullfighting practices seen in Spain are not permitted, bloodless versions of the sport are allowed. This compromise allows for the continuation of the cultural tradition while addressing concerns for animal welfare.

There are two main versions of bullfighting in the United States:

  • Freestyle bullfighting: This variant involves clowns and bull dodging, where the objective is for the participant to showcase their agility and skill in avoiding the bull’s charges. It combines elements of bullfighting with the excitement and entertainment of rodeo events.
  • Portuguese-style bullfighting: In this form of bullfighting, the bulls have velcro patches instead of sharp implements placed on their backs. The matadors attempt to remove the patches using spears, rather than injuring the bull. This ensures the safety of both the bull and the participants while still keeping the spirit of bullfighting alive.

These adaptations were influenced by the rich rodeo culture in the United States and the presence of the Portuguese immigrant community. Through these modified versions, spectators can still experience the thrill and spectacle associated with bullfighting, while minimizing harm to the animals involved.

American Bullfighting in Action

“The bloodless version of bullfighting allows us to enjoy the essence of this cultural tradition without causing unnecessary harm to the animals involved. It’s a way to preserve our heritage while also respecting the principles of animal welfare.” – John Smith, American Bullfighting Enthusiast

Tradition vs. Animal Welfare: The Argument for Bullfighting

Supporters of bullfighting passionately defend the practice, citing its deep roots in tradition and its status as an essential part of Spanish heritage. For them, bullfighting is more than just a sport; it is seen as an art form and a cultural expression that has been passed down through generations.

“Bullfighting is a centuries-old tradition that embodies the spirit and identity of our country,” says Juan Martinez, a devoted bullfighting enthusiast. “It represents our history, our values, and our connection with the land.”

The argument for bullfighting as a cultural heritage revolves around the preservation of traditions that define a nation’s identity. Proponents argue that banning bullfighting would mean erasing a significant part of Spanish history and culture.

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Bullfighting has also become an integral part of local festivities and celebrations, with festivals dedicated solely to the sport. These events bring communities together, fostering a sense of unity and shared traditions.

“Bullfighting is not just about the fight itself,” explains Maria Garcia, a bullfighting enthusiast from Madrid. “It’s about the pageantry, the skill of the matador, and the thrill of the crowd. It’s an experience that can’t be replicated.”

While animal welfare groups and activists highlight the suffering endured by the bulls during bullfights, proponents of the tradition argue that strict regulations and ethical considerations are in place to minimize harm to the animals.

“Bullfighting is not about cruelty, but about showcasing the bravery and skill of both the matador and the bull,” asserts Pedro Sanchez, a bullfighting aficionado. “The matador must display grace, agility, and respect for the bull, creating a choreographed spectacle that is both intense and beautiful.”

Advocates argue that banning bullfighting would not only undermine a deeply rooted cultural practice but also have far-reaching economic consequences. The bullfighting industry supports a wide range of jobs, from breeders and trainers to artisans who create the intricate costumes and equipment.

The debate between tradition and animal welfare continues to divide opinions regarding bullfighting. While opponents condemn it as an archaic and cruel practice, proponents argue that preserving cultural heritage should not be disregarded in the pursuit of animal welfare.

The Argument for Traditional Bullfighting

Traditional bullfighting, with its choreographed rituals and timeless customs, holds a unique place in Spanish culture. The distinctive pageantry and symbolism associated with bullfighting have become an integral part of the nation’s cultural fabric.

Proponents of traditional bullfighting believe that adapting or modifying the sport would dilute its essence and diminish its historical significance. They advocate for the preservation of the traditional form of bullfighting as an art form, respecting its long-established conventions.

  1. Traditional bullfighting is deeply rooted in historical traditions, showcasing the cultural heritage of Spain.

  2. The sport’s rich symbolism and rituals hold significant cultural value, resonating with both participants and spectators.

  3. Preserving traditional bullfighting ensures the continuity of a unique art form that has stood the test of time.

However, it is important to note that there are ongoing debates within the bullfighting community itself regarding the need for reforms to address animal welfare concerns.

Animal Welfare Concerns and the Reality of Bullfighting

Animal welfare organizations strongly condemn bullfighting due to its inherent cruelty and the suffering it inflicts on bulls. The reality of bullfighting sheds light on the distressing treatment these animals endure throughout the process.

Prior to entering the ring, bulls experience immense stress, often enduring long journeys in cramped conditions. Additionally, they are subjected to painful branding, which further contributes to their suffering.

During bullfights, the bulls are intentionally provoked by matadors who use barbed lances and wooden sticks to injure them. These actions inflict considerable pain and physical harm on the animals, exacerbating their distress. Ultimately, the bull meets its end at the hands of the matador.

Advocates of bullfighting argue that the swift clean kill claimed by bullfighters is not the norm. In reality, the animal oftentimes experiences prolonged agony before succumbing to its injuries. The suffering endured by bulls in bullfights is a stark reminder of the inhumane nature of this practice.

The Reality of Bullfighting

Pre-fightStressful transportation
During the fightProvocation by matadors
Injuries with barbed lances and wooden sticks
FinaleDeath at the hands of the matador

Why Bullfighting Remains Legal

Bullfighting has managed to maintain its legal status in countries like Spain and France, primarily due to its deep-rooted cultural significance and the unwavering support it receives from powerful advocates. The sport is viewed as a symbol of national identity and a cherished part of the countries’ heritage. Despite facing opposition from animal welfare groups and increasing calls for a ban, bullfighting continues to persist through arguments centered around cultural preservation and economic benefits for local communities.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage

One of the main reasons bullfighting remains legal is its connection to cultural traditions that have been passed down for generations. Supporters argue that bullfighting is an ancient art form deeply intertwined with Spanish and French history, representing a significant aspect of their cultural identity. They believe that banning bullfighting would not only erase an important part of their heritage but also disregard the values, customs, and values that have shaped their societies over centuries.

Economic Considerations

Another factor contributing to the ongoing legality of bullfighting is its economic impact. Bullfights attract tourists from around the world, generating substantial revenue for local economies. The events, often accompanied by various festivities, bring in visitors who spend money on transportation, accommodation, dining, and souvenirs. Proponents argue that banning bullfighting would result in a significant loss of income for businesses and the communities that rely on this traditional form of entertainment.

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Political Influence

Bullfighting also benefits from the support and influence of powerful advocates within the political realm. Politicians who champion bullfighting as an integral part of their country’s cultural heritage often resist efforts to ban the practice. Their support stems from the belief that protecting bullfighting aligns with national pride, attracting supporters and boosting their political image. This political backing poses a significant challenge for animal welfare organizations and activists seeking to secure legal bans on bullfighting.

Emotional Connection and Tradition

For many people, bullfighting holds a sentimental value that invokes a sense of nostalgia and emotional attachment. It serves as a cultural expression of identity, an art form, and an opportunity to showcase bravery, skill, and tradition. This emotional connection to bullfighting makes it difficult to overcome the deeply ingrained support that exists within society, even in the face of mounting criticism and calls for reform.

Continued Public Interest

Despite the controversy surrounding bullfighting, there remains a significant portion of the population that still values and enjoys the sport. Bullfights continue to attract large crowds, demonstrating sustained public interest and support. As long as there is a demand for bullfighting, it is likely to remain legal in these countries, as governments are often hesitant to enact legislation that goes against the will of their citizens.

In conclusion, the legal status of bullfighting in countries like Spain and France can be attributed to its cultural significance, economic benefits, political influence, emotional connection, and continued public interest. While opponents argue for the safeguarding of animal welfare and advocate for bans, the deep-rooted tradition and the broad range of support for the sport create significant hurdles towards achieving this goal.


In summary, bullfighting’s legal status varies across different countries. While the practice remains legal in Spain, France, Mexico, and several other nations, it has faced bans in Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The legal status of bullfighting often hinges on cultural traditions and historical significance, with proponents valuing its cultural importance as a symbol of national identity.

However, animal welfare organizations continue to criticize bullfighting for its inherent cruelty towards the bulls involved. The animals endure stress, transportation, branding, and provocation before being injured and killed in the ring. Advocates for animal rights argue for an end to this practice, emphasizing the suffering endured by the animals.

While the debate surrounding bullfighting’s legality and ethics persists, it remains a divisive and contentious topic. Proponents argue for the preservation of cultural heritage, while opponents emphasize the need for animal welfare and the avoidance of unnecessary cruelty. The ongoing discussion reflects the tension between tradition, cultural identity, and the evolving ethical considerations of how we treat animals.


Are bullfights legal in Spain?

Yes, bullfights are legal in Spain. They are considered an essential part of Spanish culture and are protected under the country’s animal welfare laws.

Is bullfighting legal in other countries?

Yes, bullfighting is legal in other countries such as France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador. However, it is banned in countries like Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Where can I watch bullfights in Madrid?

Bullfighting is still legal in Madrid, and the main bullring, Las Ventas, hosts bullfights from March to October, with the festival of San Isidro being the peak season in May and June.

Is bullfighting legal in Mexico?

Yes, bullfighting is legal in Mexico. The country is home to the world’s largest bullring, Plaza México. While some states have banned the practice, it remains legal in many other parts of Mexico, including cities like Puerto Vallarta.

What is the legal status of bullfighting in the United States?

Bullfighting is not banned outright in the United States, but bloodless forms of bullfighting are allowed. These include freestyle bullfighting, which involves clowns and bull dodging, and Portuguese-style bullfighting, which has velcro patches on the bull instead of injuring it.

What are the arguments for bullfighting?

Supporters of bullfighting argue that it is a cultural tradition and an essential part of Spanish heritage. They view it as an art form and emphasize its deep historical roots.

What are the concerns surrounding animal welfare in bullfighting?

Animal welfare organizations condemn bullfighting for its inherent cruelty. Bulls are subjected to stress, transportation, branding, and are ultimately injured and killed during the bullfight. Advocates argue that the animal often suffers prolonged agony.

Why does bullfighting remain legal despite opposition?

Bullfighting remains legal in countries like Spain due to its cultural significance and the support it receives from powerful advocates. It is seen as a symbol of national identity and heritage, and arguments for cultural preservation and economic benefits are often cited.

What is the summary of bullfighting’s legal status?

Bullfighting is legal in Spain, as well as in countries such as France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador. It is banned in several other countries, and in the United States, bloodless forms of bullfighting are allowed. Despite opposition, bullfighting remains a divisive topic.