It’s that time of year again where we all get to enjoy a double feriado – four full days where you won’t have to do anything work related at all.
Total bliss, we hear you say. But what if you’re stuck in this suffocating metropolis? No problem – we’ve figured out the best way to take in the highlights of Carnaval 2018.
So you may have missed on a holiday to Brazil or Uruguay for Carnaval, but there’s always next year. While Carnaval festivities here in Buenos Aires may be bit smaller scale than its South American counterparts, I don’t hear you turning down a reason to party and celebrate.
Ok, so the road closures may be pretty annoying. We can’t deny that bondi routes will probably be a bit of a nightmare. But if you really have to be in Buenos Aires for Carnaval, you have just enough to get in the mood.
Every weekend of this month, processions and street parties will be taking place all over the capital. Starting at 7 PM each Saturday and lasting until 2 AM, festivities will then start back up again at 7 PM Sunday and last until midnight. Both feriados Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 will see the murgas congregate again for more carnival partying.
Llega el #CarnavalPorteño para disfrutar con toda la familia durante los fines de semana de febrero.
– Sáb 3, 10, 17 y 24; dom 11 y lun 12 de 19 a 02h.
– Dom 4, 18 y 25; mar 13 de 19 a 24h.
Más información: https://t.co/ar6PjXs3rG@eavogadro @marceiambrich @pdfassina @datacultura pic.twitter.com/RdZuzwN4Hy
— Promoción Cultural (@CulturaBarrios) January 18, 2018
For those of you unsure about the lingo of Carnaval, a murga is a group usually formed by a neighborhood community that comes together through music, dance and costume.
Traditionally, groups like to express some sort of political message but often its just about celebrating the arrival of festivities and a chance to have a good time with neighbors and friends. And a group of people that like partying purely for the sake of partying are never wrong in our books…
A corso refers to the actual procession and some use it interchangeably with the word ‘carnaval’, so if you can’t find anywhere saying Carnaval (which, I mean, literally just open your eyes and you’ll see it, but okay), it probably says corso instead.
Murgas usually like to name themselves after the area they are from, with the most famous being Los Amantes de La Boca (lovers of La Boca). La Boca is always one of the most lively and colorful areas to see Carnaval and is worth a visit.
Dating back to the 18th century when Carnaval began to take off here, the top hats and suits often worn by La Boca participants are a tradition from when slaves dressed up to mock their suit-wearing masters. You can still spot these traditional outfits today.
Whilst roots can be traced back to this era, Carnaval has not always taken place in the free and liberal way that it does today: For example, all Carnaval festivities were officially banned during Argentina’s last military dictatorship (as were so, so many other things). Murgas were forced to take place in private with a ticketed entrance, which obviously ruined the public, community spirit of before.
The holiday was only recently resumed back in 2011, with Carnaval festivities growing year on year, reaching an expected 1.5 million in 2018.
Anyway, with the history lesson now done with, let’s get back to what you can expect.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: With more than a 100 murgas dancing around 30 locations in the city, expect drum bashing, cymbal crashing, booty swaying and foam spraying. Costumes tend to be a little more conservative than what you may find in Rio, but are still garishly colorful with plenty of embellished sequins.
Avenida Corrientes is usually a hot spot with sections being made pedestrian only for processions. Between Bulnes and Billinghurst, an entire section will be closed for Carnaval chaos.
However, if you really want to put yourself right in the middle of the festivities, south of the city center is the way to go. In La Boca, part of the street Benito Perez Galdos will be shut off between streets Pedro de Mendoza and Brin. San Telmo will also have its Carnaval section with streets being closed along Avenida San Juan between Piedras and Peru.
If you do decide to check out the Carnaval festivities this week, make sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet or covered in foam, liquid, or soap, ’cause spoiler alert, it will happen.
Check out this map for road closures and where to see processions.
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Also, if you’re looking for a full schedule of events, don’t forget to check out the government’s guide to this year’s Carnaval – and let the partying begin!