When planning holiday in Argentina, I often think of visiting cities, hiking in nature, or even planning a fun activity. After arranging flights, accommodation and maybe transportation, the next thing I do is to check out museums, interesting spots outside the city, and nature trails. And it’s only when I’m already there that I hear from locals what an awesome festival I just missed! Well, I don’t want to miss those anymore. So I promise myself to include in my next Argentina trip some of these cool festivals, so I can join the fun. Here’s what I found out about the best festivals in Argentina and tips to incorporate them into your travels.
In places like South America where the culture is just so different from what we know at home, taking part in a traditional festival is such a unique experience; it’s a wealth of knowledge about the country and a string of unforgettable memories. Adding in the openness and friendliness of the locals, it’s a guaranteed 5-star activity.
Celebrations in Argentina
Argentina is a huge country with a very diverse population – that shows also in their festival scene. Throughout the country, summer months are January and February, and that’s when many of the festivals happen. But we promise you can find something appetising at any time of the year.
Cosquín Folk Festival (Festival Nacional de Folklore)
In Argentina, folk music and dances are loved and practiced. Coming from a country where folk culture is mostly alive among the older generation, it was truly exhilarating when our Couchsurfing host (in her 20’s) took us to a folk dance class. I quickly understood that in Argentina, folk culture – especially in some regions – is very much alive, even in the younger generation.
We were so amazed by the Argentine folk dances that we wrote a piece on folk dances in Salta, Argentina’s city of folklore.
Thus the Folklore Festival in Cosquín village (province of Córdoba, in the middle of the country) is a really inspiring experience. It should attract not only those who love folk culture, but everyone who wants to attend a lively, authentic event. The fun goes on for 9 full days, making it one of the most important folk festivals in Latin America.
|Where:||Cosquín village (province of Córdoba)|
|When:||Second half of January|
|Useful tip:||Don’t miss the so-called peñas which are outside of the official program. They are sort of yard parties with folk music and dancers and anyone can join in. They pop up like mushrooms in every street; if you don’t find any, just ask around.|
This festival is confirmed to happen in 2021 with precautions for COVID-19. You can find useful info, like prices and program, on this website (es).
Carnival in South America doesn’t exist only in Brazil! It’s celebrated here too in the whole country, albeit a bit differently in each region. That’s good news: wherever you are in Argentina, you can sink in and lose yourself in the carnival crowd.
In the Northwest, around Salta, the Andean Carnival focuses much on water – as it coincides with the rainy season. There are many ceremonies around water, dancing, music, and the magic of the rural traditions of the Andean highland.
If you want to know more about the Andean culture, our post is a good introduction.
In the eastern part of the country, however, carnival costumes are based on a different topic each year. They are glamorous, visually appealing, grandiose. The best place to experience this type of carnival is in the old converted railway station of Gualeguaychú, a small town in the region of Entre Rios (north of Buenos Aires), close to the border with Uruguay.
In Buenos Aires, the carnival has a very different feel. The festival parade is usually associated with football clubs, and the costumes comprise a top hat, gloves, frock coat. Of course, dancing and music are also a big part of the day.
|Where:||Around the country but particularly around Salta, in Gualeguaychú, in Buenos Aires|
|Useful tip:||If you want to enjoy the carnival in a less crowded place, there are plenty of smaller events throughout the country. Try La Paz or Concepción del Uruguay (province of Entre Ríos) or Tilcara in the northwest of Argentina.|
National Sun Festival (Fiesta Nacional del Sol)
This is the biggest and a very colourful festival in the relatively under-visited San Juan region. Dedicated to the sun, this event fills the streets with music and dancing. Every county in the region is represented and brings their prettiest woman who enters the competition for National Queen of the Sun (Reina Nacional del Sol).
|Where:||City of San Juan|
|When:||End of February|
|Useful tip:||This festival is a good alternative to the popular Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza.|
National Grape Harvest Festival (Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia)
This popular, week-long festival celebrating the harvest of grapes takes place in Mendoza for a reason; it’s the internationally acclaimed place for Argentine wine. There are events around wine tasting and farmer festivities, linked together with concerts. There again, a queen is elected (because why not?): the Queen of the Harvest (Reina de la Vendimia).
|Where:||City of Mendoza|
|Useful tip:||We visited Mendoza and our favourite wine was clearly Malbec – an absolute must for wine-enthusiasts!|
Chocolate Festival (Fiesta del Chocolate)
What can be better than a town surrounded by azure lakes in front of a snowcapped mountain background? To enjoy the view with chocolate!
This festival takes place in April in Bariloche, the biggest town in northern Patagonia; a stunning area that offers a lot of hiking options. Chocolate and craft beer are famous all year round in town, so this festival is perfect for those of us with a sweet tooth.
|Where:||Bariloche (province of Río Negro)|
|Useful tip:||Check out the huge easter chocolate egg that stands on the main square, in front of picturesque, Swiss-style wooden houses.|
Iguazú in Concert (Iguazú in concierto)
This music festival is special for two reasons. First of all, the location of the concert is the magical Iguazú Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, near the point where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay face each other over the meeting of the Iguazú river with the mythical Paraná river.
The second reason is that these concerts are performed entirely by children and youngsters between 9 and 18 years old, who come from every region of the country, other countries in South America, and even from much further away.
|Where:||Puerto Iguazú (province of Misiones)|
|Useful tip:||Despite being performed by children, it’s a very professional and high-quality event, and the entrance is free.|
Gauchos of Güemes Parade
Güemes is a national hero in Argentina, a fighter in the independence wars that ended up liberating South America from the Spanish crown in the 18th century. The inhabitants of Northern Argentina still commemorate this important leader who was a native of Salta. Every June, a big parade with traditional clothing and horses is organised in the city.
This parade also celebrates the gaucho culture, which can be quickly described as a sort of Argentine cowboy. It’s more than the celebration of a historical figure: it’s a dive into an important aspect of the Argentine culture nowadays.
|Where:||City of Salta|
|Useful tip:||If you want to blend in the festival crowd, wear black and red clothes. These are the colours of the gauchos.|
National Snow Festival (Fiesta Nacional de la Nieve)
Bariloche is a one of the most important skiing destinations in Argentina. For 2 decades, the 4-day long Snow Festival has been organised on its snowy slopes and downtown streets in the beginning of the winter season.
There are all sorts of activities suitable for the whole family: funny snow-related contests, races, snow-shows, the election of the festival queen (again!) and a firework. The famous chocolate shops downtown are stocked up with hot chocolate to warm up those cold hands when needed.
|When:||End of July|
|Useful tip:||Don’t miss the beautiful slow downhill ski show on Mount Catedral, where ski instructors’ fire torches draw a shining S shape on the slope.|
Buenos Aires International Tango Festival
The Buenos Aires Tango Festival is one of the biggest events in the city. During this festival, there are tango dance shows, concerts, classes, and even activities for children all around the city; all this for free!
It doesn’t matter whether you are in the know about tango or a complete beginner, it’s an exhilarating event with tango superstars and exciting new faces on the scene. The tango world championship, the Mundial de Tango, is held during the Buenos Aires festival too. On the official tourism website of Buenos Aires you can search for events – we advise booking your free spot early.
I always thought of tango as a sort of elitist dance; but after taking part in the Tango and Milonga Festival in Montevideo, Uruguay, I realised how inclusive and laid back it is. You can read about our full experience in both Uruguay and Argentina in our post about tango. What else could be better than to experience this on a free festival in the birthplace of tango!
|Where:||Throughout the city of Buenos Aires|
|Useful tip:||You’ll hear a lot about milonga, which is a very similar dance to tango. To my untrained eyes, it looked pretty much the same, but on a faster-paced music. If you have the chance to hit an event of milonga, don’t hesitate!|
While the tango festival is a truly unique experience, Buenos Aires itself is a magical, vibrant, charming, and multifaceted place that’s absolutely worth exploring outside of the festival. Have a look at our suggestions on what to see in Buenos Aires.
Long Night of Museums (Noche de los museos)
As in many cities worldwide, Buenos Aires celebrates culture and its museums by keeping them open all night on a special date; they also host many special events within the buildings. The entrance is free to all museums and most of them have concerts, performances, guided tours.
You just need to register online and download the ticket on your phone. It’s really a beautiful occasion to feel part of the bustling culture of Argentina’s capital city!
|Where:||City of Buenos Aires|
|Useful tip:||Thanks to your ticket for the night of the museums, many bus lines in the city can be used for free. Just show your ticket to the driver.|
Visit Argentina and see some festivals too!
Argentina is such a vast country with such a diverse culture. Visiting festivals is a really good and enjoyable way to experience it first-hand with all your senses. You can browse them all in this calendar.
Check out also our complete backpacking guide to Argentina to know what the different regions offer; we include our best tips to travel through the country, based on our own 4-month experience. In our itinerary for 2 or 3 weeks in Argentina, you’ll find recommendations for your holiday as a curious, culture-loving, and outdoorsy traveller. Is that you? Then click and read!
Are you planning a trip to Argentina? Which of these festivals will be on your list?
Tell us in the comments section below!
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