You are in luck because Uruguay has the world’s longest carnival –or carnaval as it is called in Spanish. So if you land in Montevideo in late January, any time February or the beginning of March*, you are going to hit carnival.
Here are the 2017 Montevideo carnival dates.
What’s worth checking out in Carnival
- The Llamadas in early February is a really authentic two-night parade. Absolutely amazing. See the video below. Don’t miss it.
- The tablado shows are fantastic. During carnival, I put up recommendations for the best carnival shows daily around midday. There’s some great stuff and some terrible, cheesy stuff too so it’s really worth checking in before you decide which tablado to head to. Bookmark my Facebook page to get daily recommendations in English for the best carnival tablados.
- The inaugural carnival parade (known as “The Desfile”) is usually held in late January and is kind of cheesy and heavy on advertising banners. I don’t really recommend it unless you happen to be in town and it’s on.
Dammit! I am in Montevideo BEFORE Carnival starts
All is not lost.
Murga rehearsals go on throughout Montevideo all year but really crank up a notch in December and January. Each group has a place where they meet to rehearse (a sports club, a social club, a bowling green, a street corner) and fans gather with a cold beer to watch the rehearsals. If you get frustrated by not understanding the lyrics then this may not be for you, but if you like to soak up local atmosphere put it on your list.
On January 6 every year the classic San Baltazar drumming procession takes place. It starts on the corner of Isla de Flores and Aquiles Lanza and carries on down Isla de Flores which is a short street in the Palermo and Barrio Sur neighbourhoods. In 2015, 36 drumming troupes (known as cuerdas de tambores) took part. It looks similar to what you can see in the video above.
Find out more about Carnaval in Uruguay
- Pictures of carnival from The Daily Telegraph, UK
- Good article on carnival from UruguayNow (2011)
- 6 things you must know about Carnival in Montevideo
- Carnival tours Get the insider knowledge and context on a maximum two person tour HIGHLY recommend
Wait, my guidebook says that the carnival holiday is another time!
That’s right. Uruguay also has a two-day public holiday known as Carnival. It is not when carnival takes place (though shows will be on then too).
* The dates of carnival change each year.
Buying tickets for carnival
Tickets for the Carnival Parade and the Llamadas go on sale usually around mid December.
They are typically bought in any Abitab store in Uruguay up until 5pm the day before the event. Tickets are cheap – around 10 USD and under.
You need to be in Uruguay to buy the ticket. But don’t worry, they don’t typically sell out.
Montevideo carnival dates
Here are the 2017 Montevideo carnival parade dates.