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Montevideo over New Year? 5 things you need to know

New Year in Montevideo by Marcelo Fernandez

Montevideans take their public holidays seriously. Between Christmas and the New Year, almost everything is closed.

January, especially the first two weeks, is also very quiet. Enjoy the peace. Generally the city starts to get back to normal mid January, and carnival starts this year on January 22!

In the meantime, if you happen to be in Montevideo over New Year, what’s there to do?

Fireworks – December 24 and 31

On both eves, the locals will be letting off fireworks. Particularly spectacular if you are are in a high-rise building or anywhere near the rambla.

Cider fight in the Port Market – December 24 and 31

On Christmas and New Year’s Eves, thousands of office workers from the Old City (Ciudad Vieja) and anyone else frantic to party, take over the Port Market and start drenching each other in beer and cider.

If you like gigantic wet t-shirt events this is for YOU.

Paper and water wars in the Old City and Centro – December 31

And offices close for the holidays. Virtually as part of a tradition, office workers in the Centro and Ciudad Vieja neighbourhoods rip up their agendas and throw them out of office windows. And if they can get their hands on a bucket, they’ll soak you into the bargain!

New Year’s Day tango – January 1

Last year, there was open-air tango dancing in the Plaza Liber Seregni from 8pm until midnight. There may be a similar plan this year (I’ll post an update as soon as I have info). Remember things start later in Latin America, especially if it’s been hot, so I wouldn’t expect anything to get going until at least 9pm. [On the map look for the link to “Milonga Callejera”.]

Beach and rambla – any time

Plan to go the beach (there are lots in the city and they are all open to the public), walk or cycle the wonderful 25 kilometres of unbroken rambla (promenade) and make day trips.

BUT BEWARE

No taxis

On Christmas Eve, taxis stop operating from about 5pm until the next day.

On New Years Eve it will start to be difficult to get a cab from about 4pm. And don’t expect to get a cab on January 1 until 4am at the earliest.

Here’s how to order a taxi when you don’t speak Spanish.

Few restaurants open

Most restaurants are either closed or offering elaborate (and expensive) set menus.

An alternative plan us to pick up take away food during the afternoon, cold beers and to watch the fireworks. Lechon (roast suckling pig) is traditional at this time of year and people tend to eat it cold. You can by it by the kilo in many bakeries.

Have a wonderful time! And happy holidays!

Photo: Marcelo Fernandez via Flickr

9 Comments

  1. Minnie

    December 31, 2016

    Thanks for the info! Are bars usually open this evening (New Year’s Eve) at midnight or is is best to stay on the street? Unfortunately we don’t have a rooftop!

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      January 3, 2017

      Hi Minnie, I am afraid I was already into my New Year’s revels when your message came through. I would have said to you to head to the rambla to see the fireworks depending on your tolerance for being close to unsupervised children and adults letting off small scale explosives! The rambla in Pocitos and Punta Carretas tend to be the most frequented.

      Reply
  2. Andrea

    October 30, 2016

    What time do the taxis start running again on Christmas day? We are staying in Pocitos for Christmas Eve, but we have to be at the airport by noon on Christmas day.

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      October 30, 2016

      Hi Andrea, taxis will start running from about 4 or 5am, so you don’t need to worry. Enjoy! – Karen

      Reply
  3. […] It’s super popular and a lovely atmosphere which goes on till midnight, six months a year (the warmer ones obviously) and often New Year’s Eve too. […]

    Reply
  4. David

    December 24, 2015

    Thanks for this info. This is my first Christmas in Uruguay and it will be my third new year. I’m very lucky to have family and friends in Uruguay but the information you put out definitely provides another much appreciated perspective. Feliz Navidad, besos.

    Reply
  5. Karen

    October 25, 2015

    Can you tell me what will be open in Colonia on Christmas Day? We will be in Buenos Aires Dec 24-26, and want to take a day trip to Colonia, but of course would prefer to do this when some things are open.

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      October 26, 2015

      Hi Karen, greetings from another Karen 🙂 I’ve consulted with my colleague Fred, the owner of the lovely Colonia Suites B&B in Colonia, and he tells me that a bunch of restaurants will be open over the holidays but he recommends reserving, and he has really kindly volunteered to assist anyone who is unable to make a reservation directly via email. So if you write to your chosen restaurant but don’t get an answer, write to Fred at coloniasuite@gmail.com as a last resort. Thanks, Fred!

      Reply

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