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. 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. 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. 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. It’s very 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. It’s real. 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. You can experience carnival preparations any day of the week 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
40% of Roman Catholics live in Latin America but as usual Uruguay does its own thing. There’s complete separation of church and state for almost 100 years.
Murga is an instantly recognisable musical style associated with carnival. It’s a uniquely Uruguayan phenomenon, with very distant roots in Cadiz, Spain.
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 2021.
This year the Government of Montevideo is urging Yemanjá sea goddess worshippers to avoid congregating–and to donate to local soup kitchens instead.
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.
Montevideo has the world’s longest carnival starting January thru early March. We’ve got the links you need in English about where to go and what to see.
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.