Smaller and less well-known internationally than the festivities of their larger neighbour Brazil, the celebrations in Uruguay have the accolade of being the world’s longest carnival. Starting in January, the festivities last for 40 days and celebrate the diverse cultures of Uruguay.
In Montevideo, the Inaugural Parade takes place on 18 de Julio Avenue. This parade introduces the Queens of Carnival and features a large procession of floats, giant figures, and dancers accompanied by local music. Another popular parade, every February, is Desfile de Llamadas in the neighbourhoods of Barrio Sur and Palermo which celebrates candombe – an energetic rhythm and dance form with African roots performed by large groups of drummers. This exhilarating tradition of the Afro-River Plate community was declared part of the world’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO in 2009.
Satirical musical theatre ensembles known as Murgas are also a major feature of Uruguay’s unique carnival – In a tradition originating from Cadiz (Spain) and introduced by immigrants, these groups compete on local stages throughout the carnival. Themes are often contemporary and political.
Useful dates for 2020:
Carnival Inaugural Parade: January 23
Las Llamadas Parade: February 07 & 08 (*Friday and Saturday NOT the traditional Thursday and Friday)