Festivals & events in Buenos Aires

From teatro to tango, there's always something to celebrate in BA

Festivals & events in Buenos Aires Creamfields music festival
By Melanie Kramers

The party of all parties is coming to Buenos Aires in 2010, when Argentina celebrates 200 years of independence on 25 May. Plans are still to be finalised, but the festivities will undoubtedly involve some spectacular concerts, dazzling pyrotechnics, buckets of red wine and dancing in the streets.

Information

The superb bilingual city government tourist website www.bue.gov.ar is a good port of call for information on local cultural events. Other useful guides are the hip and helpful www.whatsupbuenosaires.com, and www.letstango.com.ar, which has art and music listings as well as tango. Otherwise, newspapers: Página 12 (www.pagina12.com.ar) on Thursdays, Clarín (www.clarin.com) on Fridays, the English-language Buenos Aires Herald (www.buenosairesherald.com) or tourist information points are your best sources.

Critic's choice

Fashion Buenos Aires

Where: Hilton Buenos Aires
When: Mar & Sept
Tel & website: 4982 4074/www.buenosairesmoda.com
The latest fads from local designers grace the catwalk in Buenos Aires' twice-yearly, five-day fashion week: the winter collection is presented in March, the summer one in September. Over 30 labels show off their wares to 13,000 guests per day. Pay around AR$10 to hang out with willowy beauties, catty fashionistas and other people who would happily spend a month's wages on a pair of sandals.

Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente

Where: Hoyts Abasto & other cinemas
When: mid-late Apr
Website: www.bafici.gov.ar
Hugely popular ten-day showcase for international non-Hollywood films, including the work of local directors. It attracts a couple of big-name filmmakers and high-profile actors usually seen only at the likes of the Cannes or Berlin film festivals.

La Rural

Where: Predio La Rural, Avenida Santa Fe 4201, y Sarmiento, Palermo
When: end July-Aug
Website: www.exposicionrural.com.ar
The Exposición de Ganadería, Agricultura e Industria Internaciona – known as La Rural – is the nation's supremely important two-week farm fair. Lambs, rams, pigs and other farm animals get a look-in, but it's the bulls who enjoy the most respect. The best events are the madly macho gaucho stunts. This is also the time of year when BA's peñas (folklore nights) fill with genuine foot-stamping cowboys.

Buenos Aires Tango Festival

Where: various theatres & cultural centres
When: mid Aug
Website: www.festivaldetango.gob.ar
This is the big one: it's the city's – and therefore the world's – most important tango festival, a nine-day extravaganza of concerts, shows, free classes, exhibitions, open-air milongas (Avenida Corrientes is closed for a massive dance off) and other tango-related festivities. If you're in town, don't miss it. If you're a tango fan, plan your trip around it.

Abierto Argentino de Polo

Where: Campo Argentino de Polo
When: mid Nov-mid Dec
Tel & website: Asociación Argentina de Polo 4343 0972/www.aapolo.com
Argentina has long been polo's spritual home, producing the world's top stars both on four legs and two. Held at Palermo's magnificent 16,000 capacity Campo Argentino de Polo, the Argentinian Polo Open is the sport's annual highlight.

January-March

Chinese New Year

Where: along Arribeños 2000-2200 blocks, Belgrano
When: Jan or Feb
Tel: Chinese Embassy 4541 5085
This small-scale day-long festival is an explosion of colour and clamour in Belgrano's tiny Chinatown, known locally as Barrio Chino. Local restaurants set up stalls on the streets and dole out dim sum.

Carnaval

Where: plazas & social clubs throughout Buenos Aires
When: Feb
Website: www.buenosaires.gov.ar
Don't expect Rio or New Orleans – here, festivities are on a smaller, albeit still enthusiastic scale, with local groups of murga drummers and dancers performing in plazas, and a parade down Avenida de Mayo. The best carnivals in the region are in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, while in Argentina the main action is in Gualeguaychú (pronounced Gwal-ay-gwah-CHOO) in Entre Ríos.

Abierto de Tenis de Buenos Aires

Where: Buenos Aires Lawn Tenis Club
When: Feb
Tel & website: 4772 0983/www.copatelmex.com
BA's annual Tennis Open gives locals the rare opportunity to watch their own players slug it out on the city's premier clay courts. Home-grown stars include David Nalbandian and Guillermo Cañas.

Opera Season

Where: Teatro Colón
When: Mar-Dec
Tel & website: box office 4378 7344/www.teatrocolon.org.ar
The opera seasons have been thrown into disarray somewhat with the problems delaying the reopening of the stunning Teatro Colón. However, in all theatres the season officially opens its curtains in early March, with ballet, opera and classical concerts. Look out for brilliant pianist/conductor Daniel Barenboim's annual return.

South American Music Conference

Where: Centro Costa Salguero, Avenida Rafael Obligado, y Salguero, Costanera Norte
When: Mar
Website: www.samc.net
This world-class electronic music event, uniting DJs from around the globe, has helped establish BA as the dance capital of South America. Expect seminars on trance and techno as well as a mammoth closing party that will leave your ears ringing for days.

Fashion Buenos Aires

Where: Hilton Buenos Aires
When: Mar & Sept
Tel & website: 4982 4074/www.buenosairesmoda.com
The latest fads from local designers grace the catwalk in Buenos Aires' twice-yearly, five-day fashion week: the winter collection is presented in March, the summer one in September. Over 30 labels show off their wares to 13,000 guests per day. Pay around AR$10 to hang out with willowy beauties, catty fashionistas and other people who would happily spend a month's wages on a pair of sandals.

April-June

Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente

Where: Hoyts Abasto & other cinemas
When: mid-late Apr
Website: www.bafici.gov.ar
Hugely popular ten-day showcase for international non-Hollywood films, including the work of local directors. It attracts a couple of big-name filmmakers and high-profile actors usually seen only at the likes of the Cannes or Berlin film festivals.

Feria Internacional del Libro

Where: Predio La Rural, Avenida Santa Fe 4201, y Avenida Sarmiento, Palermo
When: mid Apr-May
Website: www.el-libro.org.ar
The annual BA Book Fair is a monster three weeks of readings, book signings and debates, some in English. Geared much more towards readers than publishers, the fair attracts an incredible 1.2m bookworms plus authors from all over the globe.

ArteBA

Where: Predio La Rural, Avenida Santa Fe 4201, y Avenida Sarmiento, Palermo
When: mid May
Website: www.arteba.com
National and international galleries, specialist publishers, artists and collectors (not to mention 110,000 paying punters) descend on this week-long art fair, which has evolved into one of the best- attended and most-hyped cultural events in Latin America, displaying the works of hundreds of artists from Argentina and overseas.

Aniversario de la Revolución de Mayo

Where: Plaza de Mayo
When: 25 May
Tel: Museo del Cabildo 4334 1782
The humble celebration of the 1810 revolution begins at midnight the day before, when people gather in front of the Cabildo for a lusty rendition of the (lengthy) national anthem. At 8pm on the 25th, the crowds mass again for another patriotic singalong.

July-September

Día de la Independencia

Where: across Argentina
When: 9 July
Although the main events are held in freedom's birthplace in the north-western city of Tucumán, cafés along Avenida de Mayo serve up traditional hot chocolate with churros (doughnuts) and a solemn mass at the cathedral is attended by the president, who is forced to sit through a tongue-lashing homily delivered by the city's archbishop.

La Rural

Where: Predio La Rural, Avenida Santa Fe 4201, y Sarmiento, Palermo
When: end July-Aug
Website: www.exposicionrural.com.ar
The Exposición de Ganadería, Agricultura e Industria Internacional – known as La Rural – is the nation's supremely important two-week farm fair. Lambs, rams, pigs and other farm animals get a look-in, but it's the bulls who enjoy the most respect. The best events are the madly macho gaucho stunts. This is also the time of year when BA's peñas (folklore nights) fill with genuine foot-stamping cowboys.

Buenos Aires Tango Festival

Where: various theatres & cultural centres
When: mid Aug
Website: www.festivaldetango.gob.ar
This is the big one: it's the city's – and therefore the world's – most important tango festival, a nine-day extravaganza of concerts, shows, free classes, exhibitions, open-air milongas (Avenida Corrientes is closed for a massive dance off) and other tango-related festivities. If you're in town, don't miss it. If you're a tango fan, plan your trip around it.

World Tango Championships

Where: various theatres and cultural centres
When: late Aug
Website: www.tangodata.gov.ar
Prequalifying stages, strict rules and an eagle-eyed jury (Simon Cowell has nothing on these guys) are just a few of the hurdles awaiting those couples attempting to become the World Tango Champions. The prize money is small but the prestige is priceless, and those with two left feet can marvel at the leg flicking athleticism and passionate clinches on stage.

Feria de Vinos y Bodegas

Where: Predio La Rural, Avenida Santa Fe 4201, y Sarmiento, Palermo
When: early Sept
Website: www.inasuvid.com.ar
Vineyards from around Argentina exhibit at the country's biggest wine fair, aimed at popularising home-grown brands. Grape connoisseurs can enjoy four glorious days of wine swilling with over 1,000 different labels to sample, as well as specialist tastings, seminars, and master chef demonstrations on what dishes to best accompany your vino with.

Festival Internacional de Teatro Buenos Aires

Where: Teatro San Martín & other theatres
When: every 2 years; next Sept 2009
Website: www.festivaldeteatroba.gov.ar
Buenos Aires' major performing arts festival, this is an impressive fortnight of Argentinian and international theatre, dance and performances.

October-December

Festival Martha Argerich

Where: Teatro Colón
When: Oct
Tel & website: box office 4378 7344/www.teatrocolon.org.ar
Renowned Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich wows her legions of fans during this high-profile ten-day celebration of classical music, which includes Argerich's virtuoso solo performances as well as ensemble pieces with famous guests.

Alvear Fashion & Arts

Where: along Avenida Alvear, Recoleta
When: Oct-Nov
A one-week, red-carpet exhibition of local painters, sculptors and photographers held at the high-end boutiques and galleries on BA's swankiest avenue, recently voted among the top five shopping areas in the world. Also includes talks on issues in contemporary art and what rags we'll be wearing.

Casa Foa

Where: venue varies
When: Oct-Nov
Website: www.casafoa.com
Going strong for over two decades, this cutting-edge design fair presents new trends in the world of architecture, garden and interior design, providing stylish inspiration on how best to personalise your home.

Código País

Where: venue varies
When: Nov
Website: www.codigopais.com
As well as showcasing the talents of innovative new artists, photographers and designers, Código País is dedicated to opening your eyes to new possibilities, through an eclectic programme of independent film screenings, live DJs, sustainable fashion workshops, avant-garde theatre and even an 'erotic space'.

Maratón de Buenos Aires

When: Nov
Website: www.maratondebuenosaires.com
Roadrunners clog Avenida 9 de Julio in this annual marathon. The start and finish line is the Obelisco. As well as the international race there's a 'fun run' and a four-kilometre mini marathon for children.

Marcha del Orgullo Gay

Where: Plaza de Mayo
When: 1st Sat in Nov
Website: www.marchadelorgullo.org.ar
BA's ever growing Gay Pride March gathers gays, lesbians, trannies and heteros for a serious protest parade through the city centre, and an even more serious party in the city's nightclubs afterwards. It might not be as big as its Sydney or Sao Paulo counterparts but it's seriously fun.

Creamfields

Where: Autodrómo de Buenos Aires
When: early Nov
Website: www.creamfields.com
This one-day dance music festival has a relationship with rain similar to Glastonbury, but a bit of mud doesn't deter 60,000 party-loving porteños from stepping out in their finest for 15 hours of non-stop raving. International DJs such as Carl Cox and The Chemical Brothers get behind the decks, and a turn by local boy Hernán Cattáneo is pretty much a given.

Día de la Tradición

Where: Feria de Mataderos; or San Antonio de Areco, BA province
When: weekend nearest 12 Nov
Website: www.feriademataderos.com.ar; Tourist Office 02326 453165/www.sanantoniodeareco.com
The annual gaucho day has regional food and music and impressive displays of horsemanship. The town of San Antonio de Areco, 113 kilometres (70 miles) north-west of the capital, or BA's Feria de Mataderos, are the places to be.

Gran Premio Nacional

Where: Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo
When: mid Nov
Tel & website: 4778 2880/www.palermo.com.ar
First run in 1884, Argentina's top annual horse race attracts knowledgeable punters and social climbers alike. In recent years it's become a day-long event with plenty of track-side entertainment and celebrity spotting. Dress appropriately – hats are not essential ladies, but for men, the jumper draped louchely over the shoulders is a must.

Abierto Argentino de Polo

Where: Campo Argentino de Polo
When: mid Nov-mid Dec
Tel & website: Asociación Argentina de Polo 4343 0972/www.aapolo.com
Argentina has long been polo's spritual home, producing the world's top stars both on four legs and two. Held at Palermo's magnificent 16,000 capacity Campo Argentino de Polo, the Argentinian Polo Open is the sport's annual highlight.

Festival Buenos Aires Danza Contemporánea

Where: Teatro San Martín & other theatres
When: every 2 years in Dec; next in 2010
Website: www.buenosairesdanza.gob.ar
For two weeks only, once every two years, tango takes a back seat and BA's sometimes overlooked modern dance scene twirls on to centre stage. Theatres around the city present the best in local as well as international talent.

Festival Buen Día

Where: venue varies
When: mid Dec
Website: www.festivalbuendia.net
An ultra laid-back affair, this youth-oriented open-air party kicks off with a relaxed afternoon of browsing stylish fashion, music, photography and craft stalls, and climaxes with a host of live bands performing beneath the stars.

Public holidays

The following feriados, or public holidays, are fixed from year to year:

New Year's Day 1 January
Jueves Santo (Thursday before Easter)
Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
Labour Day 1 May
May Revolution Day 25 May
Independence Day 9 July
Day of the Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas 25 December

For the following, the day of the holiday moves to the Monday before if it falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or to the Monday following if it falls Thursday to Sunday:

Falklands/Malvinas War Veterans Day 2 April
Flag Day 20 June
San Martín Memorial Day 17 August
Columbus Day 12 October

Our listings

While every effort and care has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this guide, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain. Before you go out of your way, we strongly advise you to phone ahead and check the particulars.

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