Montevideo over New Year? 5 things you need to know

Between Christmas & New Year, Montevideans leave town in droves. So what to do you do? There's still the beaches, tango, fireworks and... water fights!
By Karen A Higgs
Fireworks over Montevideo in New Year - Marcelo Fernandez
Last updated on December 16, 2022

Montevideans take their public holidays seriously. Between Christmas and the New Year, almost everything is closed.

January, especially the first two weeks, is also very quiet. Enjoy the peace. Generally the city starts to get back to normal mid January, and carnival starts this year on January 19!

In the meantime, if you happen to be in Montevideo over New Year, what’s there to do?

Fireworks – December 24 and 31

On both eves, the locals will be letting off fireworks. Particularly spectacular if you are are in a high-rise building or anywhere near the rambla.

Cider fight in the Port Market – December 24 and 31

On Christmas and New Year’s Eves, thousands of office workers from the Old City (Ciudad Vieja) and anyone else frantic to party, take over the Port Market and start drenching each other in beer and cider.

If you like gigantic wet t-shirt events this is for YOU.

Paper and water wars in the Old City and Centro – December 31

And offices close for the holidays. Virtually as part of a tradition, office workers in the Centro and Ciudad Vieja neighbourhoods rip up their agendas and throw them out of office windows. And if they can get their hands on a bucket, they’ll soak you into the bargain!

New Year’s Day tango – January 1

There’s usually open-air tango dancing in the Plaza Liber Seregni from 8pm until midnight. There may be a similar plan this year (I’ll post an update as soon as I have info). Remember things start later especially if it’s been hot, so don’t expect things to really get going until 9-ish.

Beach and rambla–any time

Plan to go the beach (there are lots in the city and they are all open to the public), walk or cycle the wonderful 25 kilometres of unbroken rambla (promenade) and make day trips.

BUT BEWARE

Reduced taxis and Uber

On Christmas Eve, taxis stop operating from about 5pm until the early hours of the next day.

On New Years Eve it will start to be difficult to get a cab from about 4pm. And don’t expect to get a cab on January 1 until 4am at the earliest.

Here’s how to order a taxi when you don’t speak Spanish.

Uber is also less ubiquitous during those times, so expect longer wait times. But my experience is that it’s been possible to uber during the holidays.

Few restaurants open

Traditionally most restaurants are closed for the holidays. However some of our favourite restaurants would love to receive you. We’ll post a list of who’s open and when in the comments below for 2022-23.

Have a wonderful time! And happy holidays!

Photo: Marcelo Fernandez via Flickr

This article first published on December 13 2013 and last updated at the date above.

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23 Responses

  1. Karen, thanks for a great website. I am thinking about heading to Uruguay from the middle of December to early January as that is when I can get time off work. Does all of Uruguay shut down like Montevideo from Christmas onwards?

    And is it possible to backpack around the country finding accommodation at short notice or is it really advisable to pre-book in this period?

    1. Hi Ken, it is only Montevideo that is quieter at that time of year. Everywhere else is in full-on high season mode. And fortunately now, Montevideo is starting to adapt and more places are open over the holidays. I would definitely book for that period. And I would recommend you get hold of my guidebooks, they have a lot more information than this website and are organised in a much more consultable way. All the links are at the bottom of this page. All the best, Karen

  2. Hi Karen,

    So glad I “found” you!

    Can you please tell me which time of the year is the busiest/holiday/high season?

    Do you have a direct email address where I can find you?

    Thank you very much.

  3. Hi Karen,

    So glad I found “you”

    We are looking into emigrating to Uruguay……..there are some questions I would like to ask you.

    Can I email you or not?

  4. I will be arriving on a cruise ship the 1st of January. Their tours tout a museum and the Port Market. While I’m sure they can drive us there, will anything be open to make it worthwhile, or should we just stroll around? Thanks.

    1. Hi Steve I would definitely take up the offers of activities because other than what I mention in the article, the city will be absolutely quiet. The Port Market you can do yourself – it’s just opposite the port. I am really surprised to hear of a museum open on Jan 1. It must be a private one. Any idea which it is? Of course the weather is going to be lovely so you could just plan to wander around, go to the rambla for a while. Good luck!

      1. I have a similar problem with Puntarenas on Christmas. The museum was there, and closed on Mondays in any case. I’m surprised with so many sea days they couldn’t have worked around one of these holidays. Thanks for the information.

  5. Thanks for the info! Are bars usually open this evening (New Year’s Eve) at midnight or is is best to stay on the street? Unfortunately we don’t have a rooftop!

    1. Hi Minnie, I am afraid I was already into my New Year’s revels when your message came through. I would have said to you to head to the rambla to see the fireworks depending on your tolerance for being close to unsupervised children and adults letting off small scale explosives! The rambla in Pocitos and Punta Carretas tend to be the most frequented.

  6. What time do the taxis start running again on Christmas day? We are staying in Pocitos for Christmas Eve, but we have to be at the airport by noon on Christmas day.

  7. Thanks for this info. This is my first Christmas in Uruguay and it will be my third new year. I’m very lucky to have family and friends in Uruguay but the information you put out definitely provides another much appreciated perspective. Feliz Navidad, besos.

  8. Can you tell me what will be open in Colonia on Christmas Day? We will be in Buenos Aires Dec 24-26, and want to take a day trip to Colonia, but of course would prefer to do this when some things are open.

    1. Hi Karen, greetings from another Karen 🙂 I’ve consulted with my colleague Fred, the owner of the lovely Colonia Suites B&B in Colonia, and he tells me that a bunch of restaurants will be open over the holidays but he recommends reserving, and he has really kindly volunteered to assist anyone who is unable to make a reservation directly via email. So if you write to your chosen restaurant but don’t get an answer, write to Fred at coloniasuite@gmail.com as a last resort. Thanks, Fred!

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