The Blog

What's worth checking out in Carnival

Murga La Mojigata 2012 in a Montevideo tablado

La Mojigata 2012You are in luck because Uruguay has the world’s longest carnival –or carnaval as it is called in Spanish. So if you land in Montevideo in late January, any time February or the beginning of March*, you are going to hit carnival.

Here are the 2017 Montevideo carnival dates.

What’s worth checking out in Carnival

  • The Llamadas in early February is a really authentic two-night parade. Absolutely amazing. See the video below. Don’t miss it.
  • The tablado shows are fantastic. During carnival, I put up recommendations for the best carnival shows daily around midday. There’s some great stuff and some terrible, cheesy stuff too so it’s really worth checking in before you decide which tablado to head to. Bookmark my Facebook page to get daily recommendations in English for the best carnival tablados.
  • The inaugural carnival parade (known as “The Desfile”) is usually held in late January and is kind of cheesy and heavy on advertising banners. I don’t really recommend it unless you happen to be in town and it’s on.

Dammit! I am in Montevideo BEFORE Carnival starts

All is not lost.

Murga rehearsals go on throughout Montevideo all year but really crank up a notch in December and January. Each group has a place where they meet to rehearse (a sports club, a social club, a bowling green, a street corner) and fans gather with a cold beer to watch the rehearsals. If you get frustrated by not understanding the lyrics then this may not be for you, but if you like to soak up local atmosphere put it on your list.

Check out the addresses of rehearsal venues [in Spanish] or get more of an idea by checking out my photos taken at carnival rehearsals.

Some murgas present shows throughout the year. If there are shows, you will be able to find info on my  Guru’guay facebook page or see my Guru’guay twitter feed for updates.

On January 6 every year the classic San Baltazar drumming procession takes place. It starts on the corner of Isla de Flores and Aquiles Lanza and carries on down Isla de Flores which is a short street in the Palermo and Barrio Sur neighbourhoods. In 2015, 36 drumming troupes (known as cuerdas de tambores) took part. It looks similar to what you can see in the video above.

Find out more about Carnaval in Uruguay

Wait, my guidebook says that the carnival holiday is another time!

That’s right. Uruguay also has a two-day public holiday known as Carnival. It is not when carnival takes place (though shows will be on then too).

* The dates of carnival change each year.

Buying tickets for carnival

Tickets for the Carnival Parade and the Llamadas go on sale usually around mid December.

They are typically bought in any Abitab store in Uruguay up until 5pm the day before the event. Tickets are cheap – around 10 USD and under.

You need to be in Uruguay to buy the ticket. But don’t worry, they don’t typically sell out.

Montevideo carnival dates

Here are the 2017 Montevideo carnival parade dates.


  1. Anna

    February 26, 2017

    I saw the llamadas live in 2006, amazing doesn’t describe it! Five hours dancing on the street (while some people just sat); cannot forget this event. Never ever. To be recommended, just as the Guru’ said 🙂

  2. Carol Price

    March 16, 2016

    Wish I knew when the Llamadas was in 2017 because that’s when I’m going…it looks amazing!

    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      April 12, 2016

      Yes! Calculate that it is likely to be on Thursday and Friday of the first weeks in February. Or you could always come on January 6 for San Baltasar.

      • Carol Price

        April 12, 2016

        Thank you for your reply. I will plan accordingly!

  3. Xiker

    January 19, 2016

    Hi, thanks for your article. I found it very helpful!

    We will be in Montevideo for just one night (26 Jan) and would love to attend a tablado (I have heard the Teatro de Verano is a good spot?).

    However, because we will not arrive at Uruguay until the same day, we will not be able to buy the tickets in advance… Do you think we will be able to buy the tickets at the venue on the day? Any other way around it?

    Thanks again and best regards,


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