Jan/ Feb: Gualeguaychu Carnival
This is one of Argentina’s biggest festivals, rivaling the Rio Carnival. Held in Gualeguaychu, in the Northeast of Argentina, the Corosodroma seats up to 40,000 people. All of whom come to witness the amazing energy of this festival. Taking place over 9 Saturdays, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained, with colorful costumes, feathers, floats, and five stages with music and singers. The key event is the crowning of the King of the Carnival. This position is battled out between 4 samba clubs, known as comparsa, which consists of 700 dancers all trying to show why they’ve got the moves to win it.
March: Tilcara Carnival
Now, this is something a little different, but it’s definitely the best way to experience the South American culture. In the center of Quebrada de Humahuaca in the Jujuy and Salta province is a village carnival. The festival opens with a puppet, representing the devil that opens up the gate to madness. All inhibitions – within reason – are lost as it is believed that the devil possesses the villager’s souls throughout the duration of the celebration. When the festival is over, the devil is placed in a hole and covered up until next year. Although it sounds a bit unnerving, this festival is full of what South America does best, and that’s having fun. There are bright colored costumes, masks, flags and crowds, as well as lots of booze!
April: Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival
BAFICI for short, this 10-day festival celebrates all things film, allowing producers to promote their films and actors and actresses to get their name out in the world. This annual movie mania has been gracing the streets of Buenos Aires since 1999, giving viewers the chance to see the weird, wonderful and inspiring. Most films are, naturally, Latin American, but many have English subtitles. Over eight theaters screen movies and tickets go fast, so get in the queue early. If you miss out on film tickets, you can still go to a Q&A session with producers, directors and actors as well as an award ceremony to finish off the event.
July: Argentina’s Independence Day
This celebration takes place all over Argentina and celebrates Argentina independence, which was granted in 1861. Dressed in traditional clothing, this is less fireworks and more political, but it is still a great experience. You’ll see the Argentinean flag everywhere you look and performances at the Colon Theatre.
August: Buenos Aires Tango Festival and World Cub
This is an annual fiesta and dance competition hailed as the world’s largest tango festival. Every August thousands of dancers and fans of tango music converge on Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango, for a two-week extravaganza of free concerts, classes, milongas, and other events. You’ll find duos performing the traditional dance everywhere in the streets of Buenos Aires. There’s also the opportunity to take some beginners lessons free of charge, so you don’t get left out of the two-step fun. And don’t worry if you forget your dance shoes; the festival has its own product fair with items made by some of the city’s best tango shoe and clothing specialists.
Why go all the way to Argentina for a German festival? Although this may seem bizarre, this beer drinking bonanza is actually part of the Argentinian culture – and the beers are a lot cheaper too. The mountain range district of Villa General Belgrano is the location, and origins, of this adopted tradition. Villa General Belgrano is well known for its German population, who accidentally ended up settling in the town after a German warship sunk off the Argentina coast in 1939. This corner of Argentina becomes an old-fashioned Munich, with Bavarian dancing, schnitzel, and traditional costumes. The festival kicks off with beer barrels being smashed open as people desperately try to get a few drops of the free beer into their large mugs as this is meant to bring good luck.
November: Buenos Aires Gay Pride
Buenos Aires has been described as one of the most gay-friendly cities in South America. Home to plenty of gay bars and same-sex tango lessons, what would Buenos Aires be without a pride parade? Rainbow, glitter and pride – that’s all you really need for this festival. This fun party allows all members, and non-members of the LGBT community to let lose, have fun and celebrate who they are. This laid back dance festival attracts up to 250,000 people each year who pile into the Plaza de Mayo to celebrate.