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6 reasons why you must not miss carnival in Montevideo

Montevideo Carnival – Murga La Mojigata

As it’s virtually unknown to people outside of Uruguay, in Montevideo you’ll get to experience one of the most authentic carnivals in the world.

6 reasons why carnival in Montevideo is unique

  1. Montevideo has the world’s longest carnival*. It goes on for 40 days between the last week of January and, depending on the weather, the first days of March.

  2. Because of an overshadowing by the Rio carnival plus a lack of information in English, there are very few tourists at carnival events, other than a few Argentinians and Brazilians. So events are never too crowded and it’s a totally local experience.

  3. Unlike Rio, it’s also a family-oriented experience. Kids run around unsupervised, get their faces painted and find you at the end of the evening. Twenty-somethings hang out with their friends over a beer. Families bring picnic blankets and deck chairs to some of the bigger venues.

  4. It’s very affordable. Seats for the parades cost around 220 pesos (that’s less than 8 USD), and the cost is the same and less for the tablados. Tablados in some neighbourhoods are even subsidised by the government with seats for 2 USD. You can buy fairground-style food and drink at reasonable prices.

  5. Uruguayan carnival dancers are less “streamlined”, shall we say, than Brazilian samba dancers. It’s so refreshing. Carnival in Uruguay is all about having a good time and not about physical perfection.

  6. You can experience carnival preparations any day of the week all year round. The drumming comparsas are out on the street practising every week, murga rehearsals are open to the public, and if you get really lucky the most popular murgas occasionally present shows from previous years in theatres. (Contemporary artists like Jaime Roos and Pitufo Lombardo fuse carnival sounds into their music.)
Montevideo Carnival Llamadas 2013 by Guru'Guay
Montevideo’s most interesting carnival parade – Las Llamadas – takes place in a tiny street but even so you can find empty seats. Photo: Guru’Guay

The Llamadas parade

Goes on for two nights in February.

One of the younger Murgas to have come through in the last few years – Cayó la Cabra


  • Check out the carnival dates for 2018
  • The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo. Buy it for just 10 USD and get the Guru’s recommendations regarding the best and worst of carnival. Let me be honest, some parts of carnival are really great, but others are … cheesy, shall we say? There are only so many sequinned choreographies that one can take. Also includes Carnival terminology

*I’ve heard that Cologne in Germany also has a very long carnival.


  1. Barry

    February 2, 2017

    Dear Welshwitch
    We are returning to Montivideo next week, for 6 weeks.
    Can’t wait for the warm welcome and weather.
    We will be there for the first Llamadas. And all the performances.
    I just love the laid back nature of Uruguay and the fact that it is only one of ten countries in the world that is not engaged in a military conflict.

  2. […] Llamadas, or drumming calls, are the most exciting part of carnival in Montevideo today. Carnival is when you’ll get to see the comparsas in their full […]

  3. Tessa

    February 6, 2016

    Hello! Very excited to come across your blog, as we are planning a trip for the entire month of January 2017. We will be traveling in time to arrive on New Years eve – to either BA or Montevideo. My question is – how is Montevideo for new years? Should we head your direction at the beginning of our trip, or try to save it for the end of the month when Carnival is going on?


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