6 reasons not to miss carnival in Montevideo

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 2023.
By Karen A Higgs
Uruguay Carnival: 2020 'Llamadas'
Last updated on February 5, 2022

It’s virtually unknown to people outside of Uruguay, but in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, you’ll get to experience one of the most authentic carnivals in the world.

6 reasons why carnival in Montevideo is unique

  1. Is obvious Montevideo has the world’s longest carnival*. It goes on for 40 days between the last week of January and, depending on the weather, the first days of March.
  2. Totally authentic Because of an overshadowing by the Rio carnival plus a lack of information in English, there are very few tourists at carnival events, other than a few Argentinians and Brazilians. So events are never too crowded and it’s a totally local experience.
  3. Family-oriented Unlike Rio, carnival in Montevideo is a family-oriented experience. Kids run around unsupervised, get their faces painted and find you at the end of the evening. Twenty-somethings hang out with their friends over a beer. Families bring picnic blankets and deck chairs to some of the bigger venues.
  4. Affordable Seats for the parades and nightly neighbourhood shows known as tablados generally cost around ten dollars or less. Some tablados are even subsidised by the government so tickets are even cheaper. You can buy fairground-style food and drink at reasonable prices.
  5. Not about perfect physiques Uruguayan carnival dancers are less “streamlined”, shall we say, than Brazilian samba dancers. It’s so refreshing. Carnival in Uruguay is all about having a good time and not about physical perfection.
  6. All year round The drumming comparsas are out on the street practising every week–even during the pandemic, murga rehearsals are open to the public, and if you get really lucky the most popular murgas occasionally present shows from previous years in theatres. (Contemporary artists like Jaime Roos fuse carnival sounds into their music.)

The Llamadas parade

Goes on for two nights in February.

One of the younger Murgas to have come through in the last few years – Cayó la Cabra

Cover picture: Jimmy Baikovicius

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41 Responses

  1. Hello we will be in Uruguay from Feb 17-March 1 ans would appreciate any guidance in where to get the best carnival celebrations. We will have a car.

  2. Read that there are 4 cattle to a person in Uruguay. This is very interesting, coming from a small island country where farming is zero.
    Would love to stay in a cattle farm for 1-2 days to enjoy a local experience.
    I have been trying to google on this topic without making much headway.

    Are you able to provide some information on such farms that are near to Montevideo? I plan to be in Montevideo in Apr 2020 for a couple of days. 2 persons : age 20 and 50.

    1. Hi Tina, my guidebook The Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, Ranches and Wine Country has all the information you need to make a great decision about where to stay and what to do. You’ll also see that estancia owners (estancias are what ranches are called here) recommend staying at least three nights to really get into the swing of things. I definitely recommend you check it out. The nearest estancia to Montevideo, and one that I definitely recommend is El Ceibo. All the best, Karen

  3. Dear Welshwitch
    We are returning to Montivideo next week, for 6 weeks.
    Can’t wait for the warm welcome and weather.
    We will be there for the first Llamadas. And all the performances.
    I just love the laid back nature of Uruguay and the fact that it is only one of ten countries in the world that is not engaged in a military conflict.

  4. Hello! Very excited to come across your blog, as we are planning a trip for the entire month of January 2017. We will be traveling in time to arrive on New Years eve – to either BA or Montevideo. My question is – how is Montevideo for new years? Should we head your direction at the beginning of our trip, or try to save it for the end of the month when Carnival is going on?

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