Carnival is approaching and you don’t have to go all the way to Rio de Janeiro to take part in the festivities. Buenos Aires celebrates Carnival from February 7th until the first week of March throughout the country. The largest carnival celebration in Argentina takes place in Gualeguaychú in the province of Entre Ríos and all of the festivities take place in and around the Corsódromo. It’s the closest you can get to a Rio style Carnival parade in Argentina. In Buenos Aires the Carnival street festivities are omnipresent and a must see if you’re in town.
If you don’t know anything about Carnival here’s a quick run down.
Carnival is a giant celebration of debauchery that incorporates masks, parades dancing, theatre, music, drinks, street food, and lots of foam (anyone is a target for children with cans of foam). For the Buenos Aires carnival these street parties take place from 7 pm until 2 am all over the city every night of carnival. Below is a link you can use to find local Carnival parties by neighborhood.
Although Latin American Carnival celebrations can be traced to the Spaniards, the definitive origin is still debated amongst historians. Some say the middle ages, others say it was even before with the Celts celebrating the god ‘Karna’, and there are even those who claim the Egyptians were celebrating their god Apis. Regardless of your historical outlook, the central theme is the same as it has always been: going absolutely mental and enjoying life.
Don’t believe that it’s that crazy? In 2013 the Argentine department of tourism estimated the total number of Carnival tourists at around 1,600,000 and roughly spending a whopping $380,000,000. Not surprisingly, in Brazil, the government distributed 1.3 million condoms for Carnival ‘celebrations’.
One of the most noticeable aspects of carnival in not only Argentina, but also almost all of Latin America and Spain is the Murga. La Murga is a group of dancers, musicians and actors that perform in the street during carnival. In Buenos Aires each neighborhood is represented by different murgas and the government closes a few streets for the carnival celebrations. Each murga is like a vibrant and multicolored band of urban gypsies. The wear gaudy costumes while hopping and hurling down avenues.
I had a friend that visited Argentina a few years ago and when he first saw the murgas in Boedo he would later describe them in an email as “a combustion of cracked and unhinged clowns all dancing to the rhythm of the same silver drum.”
To find out more about the Buenos Aires carnival and other festivals in Argentina, contact Say Hueque!
Written by Brian Athey