What’s worth checking out in Carnival

Carnival starts late January till early March. Yes, it's the world's longest carnival. The parades and shows you must not miss, where to buy tickets, etc.
By Karen A Higgs
Murga, Uruguay carnival
Last updated on March 6, 2019

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

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]

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13 Responses

  1. Hi we are in Montevideo this Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd Feb (2020) and the following week 28th 29th. Could you tell us the best shows to book and if there are any parades please.

    1. Hi Irene Greetings from the Guru! There’s always a great show in the Velodrome in Parque Batlle (pronounced BY-zhay). Here’s the reservation info (turn on Google translate). Alternatively, as you are in Montevideo on Friday or Saturday nights especially if it looks like rain, the tablado to go to is at the Carnival Museum in the Old City. If you arrive at either location at 7.30pm you will be able to buy your tickets — choose the more expensive ‘platea’ tickets to be as close to the stage as possible — before the lines get long. You can also buy tickets at the box office during the afternoon. Enjoy! It looks like carnival will be going on until at least the first week of March this year. — Karen

  2. We are trying to figure out the carnaval dates in Montevideo for 2019? We are planning a trip January/February 2019. Is there a one week celebration during carnaval

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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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