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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 22!

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

Last year, there was 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 in Latin America, especially if it’s been hot, so I wouldn’t expect anything to get going until at least 9pm. [On the map look for the link to “Milonga Callejera”.]

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.


No taxis

On Christmas Eve, taxis stop operating from about 5pm until 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.

Few restaurants open

Most restaurants are either closed or offering elaborate (and expensive) set menus.

An alternative plan us to pick up take away food during the afternoon, cold beers and to watch the fireworks. Lechon (roast suckling pig) is traditional at this time of year and people tend to eat it cold. You can by it by the kilo in many bakeries.

Have a wonderful time! And happy holidays!

Photo: Marcelo Fernandez via Flickr

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