Holidays in Argentina are very important times to be around loved ones. While many of these holidays may be celebrated in similarly all around the world, there are some traditions that may be unique to Argentina. A good thing to know about Argentine culture before we get into the details of the holidays is that 92% of the people in Argentina were traditionally Catholic immigrants from Europe, and the national religion is Catholicism. However, now less than 20% of the population practices Catholicism regularly. The holidays we list here are only a handful of what is actually celebrated.
Here is the calendar for the Argentine traditional Holidays:
January 1st: “Año nuevo”
In Argentina, New Year’s eve is extremely important but New Year’s day is just as important because that is when you get to spend the day with your family and friends eating all the leftovers. As a tourist, you will find everything is closed so you might want to take this opportunity and explore the different walkable areas around where you are staying.
January 6th: “Los Tres Reyes Magos”
There is a tall tale that says that the three wise men go house to house and leave presents for each child. Children will leave their shoes outside to let the wise men know how many children are in the house and a present will be by each shoe the next morning. What’s nice about this holiday is it also is a good way to end the holiday season, especially for children. The parents say that the three wise men are following stars to the houses and children will leave out grass and waters for the camels. Some neighborhoods have parades, or the 3 wise men will be walking around during the day, similar to how Santa is around during Christmas.
End of January: Folklore Festival in Córdoba (Cosquín)
This Argentine music festival began in 1961. Traditionally it was only Argentine Folk music, and while it still focuses on traditional music, it also features tango, acoustic, and international music. The 9-day music festival was the cause of a boom in popularity of folklore music in the 60s and 70s and today it is still considered one of the most important music festivals in South America.
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End of February: Carnaval
One of the most exciting events is Carnaval. This is celebrated in various parts of the world such as Spain and Brazil. In Argentina, especially in the province of Entre Ríos, we celebrate at the end of the month of February. The exact dates vary every year since it depends on Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter). You can find out the dates by searching for “Carnaval Argentina” and add the year.
Semana Santa y Pascuas
If you are in Argentina for Easter you will soon realize that Easter here is about the chocolate. We don’t dye eggs and hide them around the house and we are not so inclined on bunnies either. Easter is for being around family and friends and sharing a meal along with some chocolate eggs.
Something else to note is that the four day weekend of Easter is a great excuse for lots of Argentine families to travel around the country.
March 24th: Día Nacional de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia (National Memory Day for Truth and Justice)
Argentine people ask for justice and clarity for the terrible events that happened in the last military dictatorship, and the 30.000 people who disappeared. People march every March 24th to Plaza de Mayo, the famous square where many grandmothers, called Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, began to demand Justice and Truth. The people carry the slogan “Nunca más” (it means Never Again). This is an immovable holiday.
March 4th: Vendimia Mendoza’s grape Harvest festival
This holiday started as a way to give back to the Patron Saint of Vineyards, the Virgin of Carrodilla. The people of Mendoza had finally harvested their crops and could now relax and enjoy the work they had done, and thank Saint Carrodilla. The holiday has come a long way since then with the celebrations including a parade, free wine samples, and even a beauty pageant where they crown “Queen of Vendimia”.
April 2nd: Día del Veterano y de Los Caídos en la Guerra de Malvinas (Veteran’s Day)
This day commemorates the day in 1982 when the Argentine troops landed in las Islas Malvinas with the mission of winning back the sovereignty of that territory which had been occupied by the British since 1833. Unfortunately, this is a sad day for our country since that battle was lost along with the lives of around 650 soldiers.
May 1st: Día del trabajador (Labor Day)
This day is a public holiday, and we honor the workers that died on the same day but in 1886 while they pleaded for better working conditions in the city of Chicago, Illinois. It would be really hard to find any business open on this particular day.
25 de Mayo: National Day
This is one of the most important holidays in Argentina. It is celebrated as Argentina’s independence day but is actually celebrating a series of events that lead up to the May Revolution and ultimately Argentina’s independence from Spain. The day is celebrated with the family, though there is a gathering downtown where you can go to hear speeches given by government officials. Families will gather and eat locro (a corn-based stew), one of the national dishes of Argentina and perhaps have some churros and pastelitos de batata (sweet potatoe) or de membrillo (quince) with some mate in the afternoon.
June 17th: Día del Paso a la Inmortalidad del General Martín Miguel de Güemes
We commemorate the death of Martín Miguel de Güemes, key figure to Argentine independence.
June 20th: Día de la Bandera
National Flag Day in Argentina is celebrated on June 20th to commemorate the death of its creator, Manuel Belgrano. It was made in 1812 and the original flag did not have the sun in the center as the flag that we know today does. The flag was originally 3 stripes of blue white and blue again. The flag was created during the Argentine War of Independence, and then the sun was added to the flag in 1818.
The celebration of flag day takes place in Rosario, where the flag was created. There is a public meeting that the president attends where the municipal and provincial authorities speak, followed by a parade where the people carry the flag.
July 9th: Día de la Independencia
On this day but in 1916, the Declaration of Independence from Spain was signed. You will see that there are patriotic celebrations such as speeches, parades, and military demonstrations. If you go to Avenida de Mayo you encounter large groups of people enjoying the day’s celebrations. Many Argentines celebrate with family and friends and eat some local meals such as empanadas, locro and asado.
End of July/Beginning of August: Fiesta de la Nieve en Bariloche
For four days all of Bariloche, the Argentinian ski capital, celebrates the beginning of winter with a festival! The festivities include a series of competitions such as walking the central streets with trays of glasses and bottles that can’t be spilled, a parade and competition of wool products, and even a logging competition between lumberjacks. As well as the competitions, there are also concerts. The mountain opening ceremony consists of ski teams and local schools carrying torches down the mountain at dusk. When they reach the bottom, there is a fireworks display. On top of all these festivities, there is a pageant and a crowning of that year’s Snow Queen.
August 10-23: Buenos Aires Tango Festival
This is the festival of Tango, the traditional dance that Argentina (and specifically Buenos Aires) is known for. The tango originated in La Boca, a neighborhood by a port in the south of Buenos Aires. Every year, tango dancers from all over the world come to Argentina to compete in the place where tango was born. The festivities culminate with the Tango World Competition where the best of the best compete. Each year the whole city gets into a tango frenzy with tango shows, music, movies, and recitals. All of the festival events are free of charge, and milongas (the place where one would dance the tango) will hold tango classes, shows, music, Spanish classes, and other events.
August 17th: Aniversario de la muerte del General D. José de San Martín.
On this day in 1850, José de San Martín, leader of the liberation of Argentina, Chile, and Perú died at the age of 72. This man was a key figure in the making of our history and we take this day to honor his efforts and sacrifices.
September 21sth: Student’s Day and Spring Day
This holiday celebrates two things at once: Student’s day and the beginning of Spring. At the University of Buenos Aires, they always fumigate bugs, and students have the day off. We don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but it happens every year. At school, depending on the institution, the students also have the day off, or use that day to have a picnic outdoors and play games. To celebrate that Spring has finally arrived, there are concerts around many different cities throughout the country. The Jacaranda trees begin to blossom (it has violet flowers and you can see them on some sidewalks and parks).
September 27th: Commercial Employees’ day
This day almost all businesses will be closed because it’s their national holiday, as well as a rest day for the commercial employees.
October 12th: Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity
The origins of this holiday are actually the same as Columbus Day. The day was first celebrated in Argentina in 1917. Workers get the day off to spend with their family and celebrate and remember the day that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. The name of the holiday was changed to “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity” as the arrival of Christopher Columbus is no longer seen as a positive thing, seeing as he in fact did not discover the Americas. It began as a holiday to celebrate the Hispanic influence on the Americas but has since turned into a celebration of diversity.
November 6th: Bank Day
On this day all banks are closed. It commemorates the founding of la Asociación Bancaria, the union of the bank workers, which was born in 1924.
November 20th: National Sovereignty Day
This one is kind of new since it became a public holiday in 2010. It commemorates the Battle of Vuelta de Obligado, where a small Argentine army faced the Anglo-French navy that sailed into the Paraná River against the Argentine Confederation’s will in 1845. It’s an interesting piece of history since, in spite of Argentina’s defeat, Britain and France had to sign a treaty with Juan Manuel de Rosas due to the losses sustained by their whole military campaign.
December 8th: Día de la Inmaculada Concepción de María
Here is where you once again encounter our Catholic roots. This public holiday celebrates the belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It is universally celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8.
December 24th: Noche Buena
Businesses and supermarkets are usually open half the day. If you are in the centre of the city, you’ll find some people rushing to buy the last presents for Christmas.
December 25th: Navidad
You will find that Navidad is a very openly celebrated holiday in Argentina. Shopping malls will put up decorations and those decorations might not match the experience of Christmas in the summer. Ridiculously enough, you can find winter inspired decorations all over stores and houses. The image we have of Santa, or Papá Noel, as we call him, is representative of what has been imported from the Northern hemisphere. Consequently, our mall Santas are always hot in their winter costumes! While you visit you may also realize that we celebrate the night of the 24th more than the day of the 25th. On the 24th we gather to have dinner together and we wait for Santa to arrive at 12:01. That is to say, kids try to stay awake for the opening of presents. The 25th is more about waking up late and having some leftovers for lunch and relaxing with your family.
What to do during Argentina Public Holidays
Argentines love their holidays, and this year they will be blessed with 20 “feriados” or holidays. However for the tourist the thought of closed shops, closed restaurants, closed spanish schools and closed cultural centers doesn’t have the same thrill as it does to your daily Buenos Aires office worker.
Don’t despair, there are many ways a visitor can enjoy the day when the city has shut its doors. Below you will find a list of activities and places that will remain open during any Argentine public holiday and the “feriados” calendar:
We know it is a long bus trip from Buenos Aires to the Iguazu Falls but if your budget can’t stretch to a plane flight, at least make use of the great bus quality and get a good night’s rest on the overnight service. You can spend a couple of days enjoying the stunning scenery at Iguazu waterfalls. Take a paddle along the river, a speed boat into the falls or a helicopter over the National Park.
Perito Moreno Glaciar
Perito Moreno Glacier is an wonderful site to visit in Patagonia. Walk on the ice wearing cleats and experience massive blocks of ice rupturing away from the glacier. It is an incredible reminder of the fragility of our world as well as an example of the power nature has. The glacier is located in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and you can book guided tours or just a day trip to explore the sites from Buenos Aires.
Go for a Walk
Put on your walking shoes and head outdoors. With fewer people on the streets you will have the space to walk, stop and take in your surrounds. Don’t forget to look up to view the ornate decorations of some of the buildings. Stroll the inner city in peace, or head into the neighbourhoods of San Telmo, Palermo, Recoleta or Puerto Madero.
Rent a Bicycle in Buenos Aires
The roads are quiet, the buses are less frequent and there are few pedestrians j-walking. This is the time to take to the streets and pedal your way around the city. Hire a bike to cruise around the Costanera Sur or better yet join a bike tour of Buenos Aires and have a local guide show you the main sights and hidden gems.
The Easter long weekend starts the final day of March when many porteños will take Thursday off work and enjoy an extra long break. It is a good excuse to go do some travelling yourself.
Surf Trip to Mar Del Plata
Get out of the city and join in a long weekend surf trip to Mar del Plata. The swell isn’t quite Hawaii but for beginners and intermediate surfers it is still a great beach scene. Equipment hire and surf lessons are all possible so cross your fingers for the sun and hit the beach!
Buenos Aires Hop-on hop-off Bus (Yellow Bus)
With complimentary audio commentary in a choice of 10 languages the route takes nearly 3 hours if you choose not to get off at one of the 33 stops. It is a great way to see many of the cities popular sights from the comfort of a specially designed tourist mover, complete with an open air top level on sunny days. Buses run every 20-30 minutes, from 9am to 5pm.
Go for a Run
Buenos Aires has some incredible parks like Lagos de Palermo, 3 de Febrero, Reserva Ecológica, Costanera Sur y Norte among others. This could be a great way to discover the city from a different perspective.
So don’t stay locked up in your room during the public holidays, get out and explore the city and Argentina.
For more information regarding Argentine Public Holidays contact our Clases de Ingles Vamos Spanish Academy or visit us at Viamonte 1516, CABA, Argentina +54 11 5984-2201
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ad: 2018 Public Holidays in Argentina
Argentine Public Holidays: Discover What To Do, What To See and Where To Go
While the other traditions may vary a little I felt these were the holidays or
traditions unique to Argentina.