Traditional food, handmade goods, and South American cowboys riding wild horses at a festival of rural gaucho traditions in Uruguay, raves The Guardian and really, Montevideo’s Semana Criolla or Gaucho Week every Easter is not to be missed. It’s been going on for almost a century.
As usual it’s hard to find any centralised information about the event, let alone anything in English. So here are a few tips. Please note times may change from year to year.
Uruguay’s Gaucho Festival
The Semana Criolla lasts a week during Easter (or Tourism Week as it is known in secular Uruguay), starting on the Sunday evening before Easter and finishing the following Sunday.
The show takes place in the Rural del Prado, Montevideo’s principal agricultural expo venue, in the Prado neighbourhood. It is a 10-15 minute taxi ride or 30 minute bus ride from the city centre. There are frequent buses. And all taxi drivers know where to take you.
The event opens daily from Sunday to Sunday from midday till late evening. Gauchos show off their riding skills (known as jineteadas) during the day. Gauchos from other South American countries (including Argentina, Chile and Brazil) also compete.
There is live music (including folclore but often also rock and other crowd-pleasing genres) and traditional dancing generally around 6pm. You’ll get to see some of Uruguay’s classic artists playing at times between 6-11pm, as a general guide.
There’s entertainment specifically for children usually including a show every day at 5pm. Look for “espectaculo infantil”.
Check out the stands selling typical country-style food (think meaty), handmade crafts, gaucho attire (get yourself some bombachas!) and horse-riding gear.
Uruguay Gaucho Festival – The real deal
You can buy tickets at the door. Prices depend on the seating area (the Palco Oficial and Tribuna have the best seats). Children under twelve enter free but must need to pay if they occupy a seat. The most expensive tickets are usually 10-15 USD dollars.
Check out these great photos of the Semana Criolla from The Guardian.
Photos by Montecruz Foto