You are in luck because Uruguay has the world’s longest carnival –or carnaval as it is called in Spanish. It goes on for forty (forty!) nights. So if you land in Montevideo any time from late January to the beginning of March, you are going to experience some authentic Uruguayan carnival.
Here are the 2023 Montevideo carnival dates.
What’s worth checking out in Carnival
- The Llamadas is a totally authentic two-night parade on the second Thursday and Friday of February in Montevideo. Absolutely amazing. See the video. Don’t miss it. If there is a raincheck, the parades will take place the same days a week later.
- The tablado shows which are on every day unless it rains. The tablado line-ups change each day and there’s some great stuff and some terrible, cheesy stuff too. So it’s really worth checking which tablado is the best to go to on a particular evening. Bookmark the Guru’guay Facebook page and then message the Guru 24-48 hours before and I will post a recommendation for you.
- 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.
Find out more about Carnaval in Uruguay
- 6 things you must know about Carnival in Montevideo
- Find out more about candombe, Uruguay’s most authentic sound
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. You need to be in Uruguay to buy the ticket. But don’t worry, they don’t typically sell out. You can buy tickets for the bigger tablados in Abitab and during the day at the venue box office.
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. But actual carnival lasts for way longer than that as you have already read.
And if your guidebook says that, you need a BETTER guidebook. One written by someone who actually lives in Uruguay rather than an author who parachutes in for a few weeks. The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo is in paperback on Amazon or you can get it for your tablet, phone or kindle from the Guru’Guay Store (thanks for supporting us!)
Cover photo by Guru’Guay
[Article first published on February 9 2018]