Festivals in Argentina – Must-Have Travel Experiences!

Argentina festivals

Argentina is packed with activities, from a chic stay in Buenos Aires, the ‘Paris of South America’, to a relaxing wine country sojourn in Mendoza, skiing and chocolate tasting in Bariloche, or trekking your heart out in Patagonia. However, something to keep in mind as you decide when to visit is the possibility of attending one of the many festivals in Argentina. 

Attending a festival can give you a deeper understanding of Argentine culture, and it also promises to be loads of fun! On the flip side, not knowing when the important festivals are can lead to struggles with booking lodging, crowds, limited transport services out of town, or shuttered restaurants and activities. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to the best festivals in Argentina to help you plan. 

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11 Amazing Festivals in Argentina

1. Carnaval 

  • When: Immediately before Lent, usually February or March
  • Where: Varies
  • Duration: 2-6 days
Carnival in Argentina
Carnival is a raucous festival that happens all over Latin America!

Carnaval is one of the most popular festivals in South America, and Argentina is a great place to see it. It is a time of joyful celebrations: with music, dancing, murga parades, and people dressed up in colorful costumes and masks inspired by traditional folk characters. Festivities usually begin with a parade featuring elaborate floats, dancing, and music, followed by parties and street festivals lasting several days. In addition to festivities in Buenos Aires and many smaller towns and villages around the country, one of the most popular Carnaval celebrations in Argentina takes place in Gualeguaychú, a city located in the Entre Ríos province. 

Gualeguaychú’s Carnaval is known for its spectacular parades, with giant floats, samba dancers, and drums echoing around town. Visitors are welcome, but it’s a good idea to book lodgings in advance.

2. Festival Nacional de Folclore

  • When: Last week of January
  • Where: Cosquín
  • Duration: 1 week
Folk music in Argentina
Folk music and culture is very important in Argentina.

Featuring a diverse range of traditional Argentine music, dance, and culture, the Festival Nacional de Folclore dates back to 1961 and has since become a major cultural event, attracting thousands of musicians, dancers, and folk enthusiasts each year. 

The festival showcases a wide variety of folk music styles passed down through the generations, including chacarera, samba, cueca, and chamamé. The festival is an amazing way to learn about Argentina’s rich cultural heritage through dance performances, competitions, storytelling, and other cultural events, held in a huge open-air amphitheater. 

Pro Tip!

The highlight of the festival is arguably the Cosquín de Peñas, a series of smaller events held in various venues throughout the city that provide a more intimate setting for folk artists to perform and interact with audiences.

3. Festival Nacional de la Tonada 

  • When: February
  • Where: Tunuyán
  • Duration: 3 days
YouTube video

Speaking of folk music, the Festival Nacional de la Tonada is another opportunity to learn about a typical Argentine music style, characterized by its rhythmic structure and poetic lyrics. Tonada music is played on traditional instruments such as the guitar, accordion, and bandoneón, and is accompanied by singers who perform in the distinctive and unique tonada style. 

The competition for best performer is highly competitive, judged by a panel of experts, and based on factors such as musical technique, style, and quality of lyrics. In addition to the musical performances, the festival also offers a variety of cultural events, such as workshops on traditional dance and music, educational programs for children, local food stalls, and handmade crafts, perfect for visitors.

4. World Tango Championships

Tango argentina
The World Tango Championships is one of Argentina’s most famous festivals.

The World Tango Championships is a highly-anticipated yearly celebration of tango, Argentina’s most famous traditional dance. The festival started back in 2003, inviting professionals from all around the world to compete in various categories, and thousands of visitors from around the world come each year to witness the performances – whether they’re dancers themselves or not. 

Tango is one of Argentina’s most special traditions, and no visit is complete without witnessing at least one performance. If you time your visit with the Championships, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Note that this festival gets more popular each year, so it’s definitely best to get your tickets and reserve lodging in advance. 

Also read: Beautiful Dances From South America.

5. Oktoberfest

  • When: October
  • Where: Villa General Belgrano
  • Duration: 11 days
Oktoberfest has become hugely popular in Argentina.

Argentina’s Oktoberfest is the second-largest in South America (behind only Brazil’s), drawing over 30,000 people each year to the small town of Villa General Belgrano. The festival started in 1963 when a group of German immigrants who had settled in town began to celebrate Oktoberfest as a way to honor their heritage through traditional food, music, and decor. 

Today, the festival features a variety of activities, including beer tastings, food stalls, folk music, and dance performances in Parque Cervecero (aptly-named Brewer Park). Visitors can also participate in various competitions, such as beer-stein holding and log-sawing, as well as the crowning of the Oktoberfest Queen and the Ceremonia del Espiche (Foam Ceremony), when a huge keg is shaken on stage and then sprayed over the crowd.

6. Vendimia Festival

  • When: February or March
  • Where: Mendoza
  • Duration: 1 month
Mendoza vineyard
It’s wine o’clock somewhere!

The Vendimia Festival celebrates the unique wine culture of Mendoza, one of the world’s most famous wine producers. This iteration of the festival started back in the 1930s but has its roots in the ancient Inca harvest celebrations, which were later adopted by the Spanish colonizers. 

Today, the festival is a vibrant and colorful celebration of wine culture, with lots of activities perfect for wine lovers occurring over the course of the month, from tastings to vineyard tours, parades, live music, and the crowning of the Vendimia Queen.

The main event of the festival is the Harvest Parade, featuring creative floats, musicians, dancers, and Vendimia queens from different parts of Argentina. Booking lodging in advance is recommended, as Mendoza is fairly small and prices can increase quite a bit, but the festival is a great opportunity for wine lovers and culture vultures to learn more about the area’s best vineyards and traditional Argentine hospitality.

7. Festival Internacional de Cine de Mar del Plata

  • When: November
  • Where: Mar del Plata
  • Duration: 1 month
Popcorn and movie tickets
Movie buffs won’t want to miss the Mar del Plata International Film Festival!

The Mar del Plata International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in South America, taking place every November since 1954. It showcases a wide range of international films, including independent films, documentaries, and classic films, also providing a platform for emerging filmmakers to network. 

For cinephiles, there are loads of film screenings, as well as Q&A sessions with directors and actors, workshops, seminars, and conferences, many of which are open to the public. The festival’s main competition is the International Competition, featuring films from around the world competing for the Ástor Award. However, keep an eye out for the Latin American Competition, the Argentine Competition, and the Altered States Competition, showcasing experimental or unfinished films. 

8. Fiesta Nacional de la Nieve

  • When: August
  • Where: Bariloche
  • Duration: 4 days
Bariloche skiing
The Snow Queen is partly chosen based on her skiing ability!

The Fiesta Nacional de la Nieve (or National Snow Festival) is an annual winter festival held in winter sports hub Bariloche. The festival has celebrated the winter season and the natural beauty of the region since 1972 and begins with the crowning of the Snow Queen, chosen through a series of competitions that test attributes like her skiing abilities and cultural knowledge. 

The Snow Queen isn’t the only one competing, as the festival also includes a variety of winter sports competitions, such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, attracting athletes from all over the world. 

For the less athletically inclined, there are also music and dance performances, lumberjack contests, food and wine tastings, and an epic, torch-lit parade, which features a procession of skiers carrying flaming torches down the slopes of the nearby mountains. The parade culminates in a fireworks display and is truly one of the highlights of the season in Bariloche, worth visiting at least once in your life.

9. Semana Santa 

  • When: Week before Easter
  • Where: Various
  • Duration: 1 week
Semana Santa
Semana Santa is an important religious celebration in Argentina.

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a significant religious festival all over South America, and Argentina is certainly no exception. Different regions and cities each have their own unique traditions and customs, but many practicing Catholics attend church services and processions, which often include reenactments of the Passion of Christ. 

In some provinces (particularly in the northwest), people also participate in the Viacrucis, or the Way of the Cross, which involves walking a route representing the path of Jesus to Calvary. 

In Buenos Aires, there are also street performances and religious plays retelling the story of the life and death of Jesus through traditional music, dance, costumes, and props. Note that while Semana Santa offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the rich religious traditions of Argentina, it is also a time for reflection and contemplation, so it’s important to be respectful – particularly during the processions.

10. Festival of the Gaucho

  • When: November
  • Where: San Antonio de Areco
  • Duration: 8 days
Gaucho in Patagonia, Argentina
Gaucho culture is a hugely important part of Argentine history and tradition.

Every year, gauchos meet in San Antonio de Areco, a small town in the Pampas region. The famed Argentine cowboys of yore are far fewer these days, but remain the subjects of much folklore and traditional stories, showcased yearly in this festival. 

The festival celebrates the traditions, music, dance, and customs of the gauchos, particularly known for their horsemanship, cattle-herding, and rugged way of life. During the festival, visitors can see gauchos dressed in traditional clothing, demonstrating their skills through various competitions and events, including horseback riding, rodeos, and traditional weaponry, as well as demonstrations of traditional gaucho craftsmanship. 

The gaucho festival is a unique and vibrant celebration of Argentinean culture and times gone by and is a great addition to a visit to the Pampas.

11. Fiesta Nacional del Sol

  • When: February
  • Where:
  • Duration: 9 days
San Juan Argentina
The San Juan region of Argentina is known for its natural beauty.

The Fiesta Nacional del Sol (National Sun Festival) celebrates the natural beauty, history, and cultural traditions of the San Juan region, featuring a variety of cultural events, musical performances, and outdoor activities. 

With a particular focus on the natural beauty of the region, it’s a fabulous time to visit for the hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking on offer during the festival. Runners will love the ‘Carrera del Sol’, a marathon through the streets of town open to both amateur and professional runners, with athletes from around the world participating each year. 

Another important tradition during the festival is the Desentierro del Zonda, a ritual symbolizing the ‘resurrection of the wind’ (called the Zonda), thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the area. Like other festivals, there is also a Queen of the Sun, who represents the beauty and hospitality of the region, chosen through a series of competitions that test her intelligence and cultural knowledge.

A visit to any of the above Argentinian festivals is sure to enrich your travel experience, allowing you to witness culture and traditions up close, meet new friends, and make unforgettable travel memories. While you might need to do a bit more planning when making your itinerary, it will certainly be worth it in the end. 

Have you been to any of these festivals in Argentina? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Tegan & Alex Bio Pic
Tegan George & Alex McKenzie | Why Not Walk

Tegan and Alex are travel, hiking, and biking enthusiasts currently based in Boston, USA. There is nothing they love more than exploring new places by walking, and they have visited over 30 countries together since they met in 2015. Their love for “walking the world” led them to found Why Not Walk, a travel guide site. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to start planning your next adventure!

Find them on: Facebook | Instagram

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