Traditional food, handmade goods, and South American cowboys riding wild horses at a festival of rural gaucho traditions in Uruguay, raves The Guardian and really, Montevideo’s Semana Criolla or Gaucho Week every Easter is not to be missed.
As usual it’s hard to find any centralised information about the event, let alone anything in English.
So here are a few tips.
Uruguay’s Gaucho Festival
The Semana Criolla lasts a week during Easter (or Tourism Week as it is known in secular Uruguay), starting on the Sunday evening before Easter and finishing the following Sunday.
The show takes place in the Rural del Prado, Montevideo’s principal agricultural expo venue, in the Prado neighbourhood. It is a 10-15 minute taxi ride or 30 minute bus ride from the city centre. There are frequent buses. And all taxi drivers know where to take you.
The event opens daily with Gauchos showing off their riding skills (known as jineteadas) Monday to Friday from 2pm and 6pm and then night shows from 7pm to 9pm.
In 2016, 90 gauchos from four different countries (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil) competed.
There are three stages with live folk music (folclore) and traditional dancing generally around 6pm. You’ll get to see some of Uruguay’s classic artists playing at times between 6-11pm, to give you a general guide.
There’s entertainment specifically for children usually including a show every day at 5pm. Look for “espectaculo infantil”.
Check out the stands selling typical country-style food (think meaty), handmade crafts, gaucho attire (get yourself some bombachas!) and horse-riding gear.
This year’s Semana Criolla is the 92nd of its kind.
Uruguay Gaucho Festival – Definitely not for tourists
If you’re thinking, this is for tourists, think again. Just like carnival (or even the coming of Mick Jagger), in Uruguay, gaucho gatherings are strictly for and by the locals.
You can buy tickets at the door. Prices depend on the seating area (the Palco Oficial and Tribuna have the best seats). Children must pay if they occupy a seat. The most expensive tickets are usually the equivalent of 10 USD dollars or less.
Check out these great photos from 2016’s Semana Criolla from The Guardian.
Photos by Montecruz Foto
Find out about other Uruguayan holidays and festivals