Argentine Carnival 2018
Around this time of the year is the Carnival season all around the world, including the Rio de Janiero’s Carnival, which has to be the most famous one in South America. When it comes to Argentina, festive colourful carnivals aren’t probably the association one would make right away; however, do you know that we do have Carnival celebrations here in Argentina too?
There is a reason why Carnivals seem to be a new cultural custom in Argentina but it has actually been around in this land since hundreds of years ago. The very origin of Carnival in Argentina can be traced back to the 1600’s during the Spanish colonial time. The Carnival started as a celebration of a mixture of Spanish heritage and the Candombe dance performed by the black slaves. At first, they were only practised privately in individual houses but slowly over the centuries, they were expanded to neighbourhood clubs and then developed into the more organized public street celebrations completed with masks, colourful costumes, elaborated floats and parades. The popularity of Carnival celebrations reached its new heights in early 1900’s.
In 1956, the Carnival days were recognized as public holidays, but 20 years after, the military dictatorship removed them as holidays. It was because of this change, many of the Carnival traditions in Argentina had been interrupted and lost. Even though they weren’t as wildly celebrated and observed as before, a few cities have kept the traditions going. In the case of the City of Buenos Aires, they have replaced it with a different form called ‘murgas‘, an attempt to keep the Carnival spirit alive.
In 2011, the Argentine government has reinstated the Carnival holidays making it a 4-day long weekend nationwide. The Carnivals and their festivities have finally been revived. Moreover, for many Argentines, especially the younger generations, who might have heard about all these Carnival traditions and stories from their parents like fairy tales, they could be in fact experiencing this long-lost tradition for the very first time.
The biggest and the most important Carnival celebration in Argentina takes place in Gualeguaychú. There are parades and performances from January 9-16-23-30 and February 6-7-8-13-20. This year 2018 ”comparsas” are going to be Papelitos, Marí-Marí y O´Bahia.
Other popular carnival destinations:
– Los Carnavales de Corrientes will begin on January 22 ending on February 9 . In 2016 Corrientes was declared the Argentina national capital of the Carnaval.
– El Carnaval de la Quebrada de Humahuaca takes place in Tilcara, a city in Jujuy. The festivities start on February 6 and last till February 14, 2018, with traditional carnival celebrations combine with local rituals paying tributes to “Pachamama” (an Inca goddess similar to Mother Earth). The most important ritual is where they will unearth the “devil”, begin the party with dancing, music playing and fireworks marching through their small towns and end with the burial of the “devil” again a week later. You can read more about this ritual here (in Spanish).
– Los Carnvavales de Salta begins on January 14 till February 9. They have parades and celebrations almost every night at different locations in the city of Salta.
– Last but not least, in the City of Buenos Aires on February 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, there will be organized parades by murgas on Saturdays and Sundays taking place at the main streets of different neighborhoods in the city.
Check out the city website https://turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/es/article/carnaval-porte%C3%B1o for more information and locations.
If you are interested in travelling to any one of the locations mentioned above to participate in the Carnival festivities, we highly recommend you to book your travels and lodgings ahead of time. They are very popular attractions among Argentine residents too!