The Carnival of Montevideo
The Carnival of Montevideo, all the details and characteristics of the most popular party in Uruguay.
As in various places in the world, Carnival is also celebrated in Montevideo in summer, but with some particularities that make it stand out from the rest. A festival that dates back to colonial times, it became the traditional festival of Uruguay, being the longest in the world.
It opens with a parade on Avenida 18 de Julio, one of the most important streets in Montevideo, where different types of groups such as murgas, comparsas, parodists, comedians and more participate in the Official Contest.
In turn, the Parade of Calls is held, where the Afro-Uruguayan community dances and plays to the rhythm of Candombe, touring the streets of the Palermo and South neighborhoods.
In its beginnings, the Carnival was celebrated with water games, horse riding through the city and costume balls, without the Afro community being part of it. Only in 1870, the black society was incorporated into the carnival parades.
Over time, the Uruguayan Carnival became one of the longest in the world, since it lasts 40 days (or sometimes more if the rain appears and prevents the celebration from taking place). Throughout the month of February, some previous days in January and the first part of March, different performances are carried out on the stages of the neighborhoods, which are called “tablados”, where performances are carried out in the open air, every night.
The Inaugural Parade is in charge of officiating the opening of this enormous event, with different performances by comedians, bands, street musicians and more artists. But the one prior to Carnival begins several months before with the children’s parade and the election of the Carnival queens.
Then, the Parade of the Calls takes place, with 40 different groups of musicians, dancers and singers. It bears that name, since there is a dialogue between the candombero drums. Hence it is said that “carnival groups call each other through their drums”.
In addition, you will be able to see corsos in the neighborhoods, similar to those of Buenos Aires (we tell you more here), but smaller than the main parades. For this reason, do not be surprised if you go through a neighborhood that is not so touristy and the carnival is also present!
In the Montevideo Carnival, unlike in Buenos Aires, you will be able to see elaborate floats passing through the parade route. Here, the comparsas compete to see who has the best costumes, choreography, dancers and musicians.
In turn, there are shows of murgas, comedians and magazines, which you can see both on the stage and in the Summer Theatre, where the Official Contest of the Carnival Groups takes place. In this contest, the makeup, the lyrics of the songs, the music, the dance and the design of the costumes are taken care of and recognized.
There are 3 parts to the Carnival: The Inaugural Parade, which takes place at the end of January, to kick off this festivity. The Tablados, which are the night shows where approximately 5 groups perform throughout the city during the 40 days of Carnival. The Calls are usually held in February and run along Isla de Flores street, where people from all over the world come with their drums to be part of this immense general call.
The murgas are the most popular of the Carnival. In Uruguay, there are large and well-known groups such as Contrafarsa, Falta y Resto, Araca la Cana and Agarrate Catalina, which have crossed borders and are globally acclaimed. What characterizes the murgas is their theme: criticism of politics and rulers, social events and songs of popular resistance. In most of their lyrics, mockery and humor are the essential ingredients. Many times, it is just singers, without instruments.
But, in addition to the parades, tablados and calls, you will be able to visit the Carnival Museum, to delve even deeper into the history of this celebration. Here we tell you much more! In addition, Carnival Walks are hired, where the different carnival ensembles are visited in their performances, parades and rehearsals. In this way, you live the passion for this party from within.
Undoubtedly, the Carnival season is one of the most longed for by Uruguayans, so the whole country is part of it.
Here we tell you everything you can do in Montevideo, to add ideas to your visit.
To learn more about Montevideo, we invite you to join our Free Tours here!