Traditional food, handmade goods, and South American cowboys riding wild horses at a festival of rural gaucho traditions in Uruguay, raves The Guardian and really, Montevideo’s Semana Criolla or Gaucho Week every Easter is not to be missed. It’s been going on for almost a century.

As usual it’s hard to find any centralised information about the event, let alone anything in English. So here are a few tips. Please note times may change from year to year.

Uruguay’s Gaucho Festival

The Semana Criolla lasts a week during Easter (or Tourism Week as it is known in secular Uruguay), starting on the Sunday evening before Easter and finishing the following Sunday.

It’s Gaucho week in Montevideo. gaucho festival uruguay. Photos by Montecruz Foto

The show takes place in the Rural del Prado, Montevideo’s principal agricultural expo venue, in the Prado neighbourhood. It is a 10-15 minute taxi ride or 30 minute bus ride from the city centre. There are frequent buses. And all taxi drivers know where to take you.

The event opens daily with Gauchos showing off their riding skills (known as jineteadas) Monday to Friday from 2pm and 6pm and then night shows from 7pm to 9pm.

Gauchos from other South American countries (including Argentina, Chile and Brazil) also compete.

There is live music (including folclore but often also rock and other crowd-pleasing genres) and traditional dancing generally around 6pm. You’ll get to see some of Uruguay’s classic artists playing at times between 6-11pm, as a general guide.

There’s entertainment specifically for children usually including a show every day at 5pm. Look for “espectaculo infantil”.

Check out the stands selling typical country-style food (think meaty), handmade crafts, gaucho attire (get yourself some bombachas!) and horse-riding gear.

Uruguay Gaucho Festival – The real deal

If you’re thinking, this is for tourists, think again. Just like carnival (or even the coming of Mick Jagger), in Uruguay, gaucho gatherings are strictly for and by the locals.

You can buy tickets at the door. Prices depend on the seating area (the Palco Oficial and Tribuna have the best seats). Children must pay if they occupy a seat. The most expensive tickets are usually 10-15 USD dollars.

Check out these great photos of the Semana Criolla from The Guardian.

Photos by Montecruz Foto

Find out about other Uruguayan holidays and festivals