The Carnival WhispererExperience Carnival 2020
Uruguay celebrates the longest carnival in the world. It starts with a number of parades and continues with nightly shows called tablados that the locals just love. And the whole thing goes on for forty nights.
Carnival in Uruguay is totally different to the Brazilian version. Ours is family-oriented, has virtually zero tourists, a touch of politics and a lot of humour. You have to check it out.
Your tour guide will be the “carnival whisperer”, local culture-vulture Christine Dulin of Uruguay Autentico. Christine is a German-American. She has been living in Uruguay since 2011, speaks excellent Spanish and has a real passion for carnival. We affectionately call her the carnival whisperer because she’ll be telling you what’s happening throughout the show by whispering the details, without bothering the locals around you.
For Carnival, Christine’s offering two tours: to a Carnival show (tablado) and to carnival rehearsals.
Carnival shows take place in different local clubs and sports centres which turn into tablados for the duration of carnival. Anything from four to up to eight different carnival music, drumming and dancing groups will perform on a stage for the audience.
Your tour will be completely private, for you and maximum one person more, the better to blend in as you too will be part of that audience.
Christine will pick you up at your accommodation. As you ride to the venue, you’ll hear about the history of carnival, the different carnival genres and the specific groups you will see preform that evening.
At the venue, there’s a chance to buy something to drink and typical street food.
You’ll see that the crowd is full of families and almost everyone has a mate and thermos flask with them. Mate is a caffeine-based tea that locals drink with a metal straw from a gourd. As part of the ritual, Christine will prepare some mate for you to try at the tablado. So, two Uruguayan cultural baptisms for the price of one!
- A three-hour tour for you and one other person maximum
- A trilingual guide who is very knowledgeable about Uruguay and carnival
- Transportation from your accommodation to the venue and back
- Carnival show price includes your ticket
- Rehearsal prices includes a drink and a traditional snack
- Fascinating background on Uruguayan Carnival
- Chance to try mate
- Tour in English, Spanish or German
What you should know
Book a carnival tablado tour for any night from the start of carnival (usually the final week of January) to the end of February 28. Depending on the weather, carnival may even extend into the first days of March – to be announced closer to the dates. Carnival dates are usually out mid year.
Book a carnival rehearsal tour if you are here in January before carnival starts.
Private seating on a terrace overlooking the best carnival parade, the Llamadas also available – to be announced closer to the dates.
If the weather forecast is for rain or strong winds, the tablado will be cancelled since most of them take place outdoors. The only tablado has indoor facilities only opens on Fridays and Saturdays. So if you want to ensure your carnival show tour, book a tour for Friday or Saturday.
FAQ Why are the tours for a maximum of two people?
This allows Christine to really fill you in during the show itself as well as before. You’ll be sitting in the tablado audience with the locals and as you can imagine, if there were more people on the tour she’d have to raise her voice, bothering other audience members.
FAQ What’s the difference between going to a show and going to a rehearsal?
Rehearsals take place in local clubs and sports centres. Some are in the open air in public parks. It’s a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll be watching the actual rehearsals of one particular carnival group. So they won’t be wearing make-up or costumes. They may also repeat the same scene or line over and over. But this is a super authentic experience and one that the locals love too. Sometimes hundreds of people attend rehearsals of the most popular groups.
FAQ What time is pick-up?
The exact pick up time will depend on which tablado you’ll be visiting. Christine will evaluate which tablado has the best line-up for the evening and will let you know 2-3 days before. Normally tablados start between 8 and 9pm.
130 USD Carnival show
90 USD Carnival rehearsal
These are the total tour prices. The cost is the same for one or two people.