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 2019 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!)
[Article first published on February 9 2018]
Latin America is associated with Catholicism. As ever Uruguay is the outlier—with complete separation of church and state for over 100 years.
Virtually unknown to people outside of Uruguay, carnival in the capital Montevideo is one of the most authentic in the world. Start planning now for 2022.
Uruguay carnival is back in 2022! The world’s longest carnival returns to Montevideo. We’ve got the when and where. NEW DATES DUE TO RAIN.
Atabaque urges “vaccination, use of masks, hygiene, distancing, and avoiding physical contact and mixing of family groups” for attendees.
Murga is an instantly recognisable musical style associated with carnival. It’s a uniquely Uruguayan phenomenon, with very distant roots in Cadiz, Spain.
My friend who’s ‘carnival royalty’ says San Baltasar is like carnival was when she was a child. Your chance to see Uruguay carnival just after new year.
One of the best things to do in Montevideo is visit the horse races. Fun for the family and for architecture buffs the art-deco stadium. Fridays & Sundays.
The host of this brand new travel show fell in love with Montevideo. The wine, soccer, carnival, food… so many things to do.
Bringing together more than 80 foodie initiatives and live music over one weekend, Degusto takes place in May and October each year in Carrasco, Montevideo.
It’s a good idea to know when public holidays in Uruguay are as most shops close. Public transport is also limited but to a lesser extent.
Traditional food, handmade goods, and South American cowboys riding wild horses. It’s the Semana Criolla – Montevideo’s Easter gaucho festival.
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.