Experience this huge Argentine tradition throughout Buenos Aires in February. Music, dance, colour and happiness take over the city as every weekend in February, and the first weekend in March, more than 100 traditional "murga" groups take to the streets in colourful dress for the annual carnival celebrations.
Carnival centres around the murgas, neighbourhood groups that dress in brightly coloured costumes and perform rhythmic music and dance in the streets, often including commentary on life, current affairs and the neighbourhood. Agile performers in bright sequinned costumes and top hats whirl and kick to the rhythmic pulse of the drums, snare drums, cymbals and whistles as they parade through the streets in performances for which each group rehearses all year round. The groups are evaluated based on the colours and designs of their costumes, the choreographies, music and the number of people present.
More than 100 murgas take place across different neighbourhoods each weekend in February (from 7pm until 2am on Saturdays and from 7pm until midnight on Sundays) and on the Monday and Tuesday public holidays granted for Carnival (February 25 and 24 in 2020). See here for information on the date and location of each murga.
The grand finale to the carnival celebrations comes in the form of a huge party on Av. de Mayo, one of the city's most famous streets, on Monday February 24* from 4pm to 10pm. There'll be a stage, food stands, facepainting and other activities for kids, plus a parade of murgas.
(*The event will be cancelled if it rains)
Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in the world, taking place in many different countries and regions. It dates back to pre-Christian celebrations in Ancient Rome, and was later adopted into the Christian calendar to mark the period before Lent. In Argentina, the way that it's celebrated varies in each region. In the North West it's characterised by pre-colonial traditions, while the city of Gualeguaychú is famous for its extravagant themed parades. In the the city of Buenos Aires, the traditional belongs to the murgas, which date back to 1869.
Murgas originated in Cadiz, Spain, but became a prominent part of carnival celebrations in the working class, immigrant neighbourhoods of Uruguay and Argentina at the turn of the 20th century in a unique cultural expression that mixes both African and European roots. They continue the carnival tradition of revelry and dressing up in costume, but also the tradition of satire and joking, which stems from Carnival's associations with Momus, the Greek masked personification of satire and mockery.
All events are free.