The bulk of Argentina’s festivals are found in the Northwest, owing to its attachment to tradition and its high proportion of ethnic communities. Pre-Columbian revivals, Catholic and secular celebrations are observed that are a blend of indigenous and imported customs, so subtly melded that the elements are indistinguishable. On the whole, holidays such as Christmas and Easter are more religious, family-focused occasions than they are in Europe and the US. Although some traditions – such as the European custom of eating chocolate eggs at Easter – are starting to take off, the festivals are generally a lot less commercial, and the run-up to them doesn’t start two months beforehand.
What follows is a selective list of some of the major festivals, though wherever you travel you’ll come across events celebrating minor saints or local produce; public holidays are observed nationwide.
A festival calendar
6: Procession in honour of the Virgin Mary, Belén. A pilgrimage procession up to a hilltop statue of the Virgin.
Last week: Festival de Cosquín. Large folklore music festival. A rock music version takes places a couple of weeks later.
2: Virgen de Candelaria, Humahuaca.
Early Feb: Fiesta Nacional del Queso, Tafí del Valle. A lively celebration of the country’s cheeses.
6: Pachamama festival, Purmamarca and Amaicha. Pachamama, the Mother Earth deity dear to the indigenous peoples of the Northwest, is celebrated in these festivities.
First weekend: Fiesta de la Manzana y la Semilla, Rodeo. A major regional folk festival.
Mid Feb: Feria Artesanal y Ganadera de la Puna, Antofagasta de la Sierra. Vibrant Northwest craft festival.
Five days preceding Ash Wednesday: Carnaval, nationwide. Celebrated throughout Argentina, especially in Gualeguaychú, which hosts the country’s premier parades.
Weekend following Shrove Tuesday: Serenata Cafayateña, Cafayate. Popular folk jamboree.
First weekend: Fiesta de la Vendimia, Mendoza. Grape harvest festival in the country’s main wine region.
17: St Patrick’s Day, Buenos Aires. The Irish saint’s day, celebrated with much gusto in the capital.
18 & 19: Pilgrimage of Puerta de San José, near Belén. A major pilgrimage, with night vigils and processions, converges on this tiny village.
19: St Joseph’s Day, Cachi.
Variable (sometimes in March): Semana Santa (Holy Week), nationwide. Celebrated throughout Argentina; highlights include the pilgrimage to El Señor de la Peña, Aimogasta, La Rioja, the procession of the Virgen de Punta Corral, from Punta Corral to Tumbaya, and Maundy Thursday in Yavi.
4: Santa Cruz celebrations, Uquía.
10: Día de las Malvinas, nationwide. Ceremonies to remember the Falklands conflict are held throughout Argentina.
24: St John’s Day, Northwest. A major feast day throughout the region.
25: St James’ Day, Humahuaca.
Early Aug: Fiesta Nacional de la Nieve, Bariloche. A five-day festival of snow, with parades, races and evening skiing.
15: Assumption, Casabindo. Festivities culminate in Argentina’s only bullfight, a bloodless corrida.
Mid-Aug: World Tango Festival, Buenos Aires. Lasting around two weeks, the world’s largest tango festival attracts aficionados from all over.
30: Santa Rosa de Lima, Purmamarca.
6–15: Fiesta del Milagro, Salta. Major religious event climaxing in a huge procession.
Early: Oktoberfest, Villa General Belgrano. For ten days at the beginning of October, Villa General Belgrano is awash with beer in this answer to the famous German festival.
First Sun: Our Lady of the Rosary, Iruya. Highly photogenic masked event that’s one of the most fascinating in the Northwest region.
20 (approx): Fiesta de la Ollas, or “Manca Fiesta”, La Quiaca. Literally, a “cooking-pot” festival with crafts and music.
1 & 2: All Souls’ Day and the Day of the Dead, Quebrada de Humahuaca and Antofagasta de la Sierra.
10: Fiesta de la Tradición, San Antonio de Areco. Lively gaucho festival.
24: Christmas Eve, Buenos Aires. A great time to be in the capital, when the sky explodes with fireworks.
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