5 Traditional Uruguayan Festivals That Introduce You To Local Culture

Every country has its own traditions, culture, festivals; and Uruguay is no exception!  

Along with its scenic beauty, Uruguay is adorned with a deep cultural aspect through popular and crazy celebrations that revolve around religion, food, music…etc. If you wish to immerse yourself in this country’s culture, there is no better way than to witness these festivals! Here is a list of Uruguay’s top celebrations.

1. Eat with The Gigantic Paella Celebration

Paella
Photo by Sandra Wei on Unsplash

Since many Uruguayans have Spanish roots, they love to celebrate their cultural heritage by cooking paella! This delicious festival is held once a year and celebrated throughout the country. The city that cooks the biggest paella is Piriapolis, located on the coast. Every year, the town attracts both tourists and locals to witness its unique tradition. This includes cooking a gigantic paella in a five-meter cooker and needing a construction digger to place 300 kilos of rice in it. This may be one of the most amusing and delicious festival yet!

2. Dance to White Night

The white moon
Photo by Tiaan Nell on Unsplash

Taking place in one of the most family-friendly towns – La Floresta -, La Noche Blanca or White Night in English, is a must-do fete! Devouring 20 blocks of street, the festival is not only huge but also immensely popular. On the program: music, food, wine, dancing, and 30 other folkloric performances. White Night festivals are actually held in many cities during the summer, including: Paris, Melbourne, Tel Aviv…etc. White Nights are named after the week following the summer solstice as a way to mark the full moon. Since the solstices are reversed in South America, the celebration takes place in January. In La Floresta, many locals will turn off their house lights in order to marvel at the full moon.

3. Enjoy the Jazz Festival

Jazz Festival in Uruguay
FACEBOOK Festival Internacional de Jazz de Punta del Este

Located in Mercedes, the Jazz Festival is a night which attracts thousands of devoted tourists each year, since 2007. Inspired by the Louisiana rhythm, this festival combines both iconic jazz bands and important references to Latin American music. Yearly, more than 140 South American musicians flood the streets of Mercedes as a love letter to jazz. Becoming such a world-wide sensation and greatly contributing to the country’s economy, the Uruguay Parliament has baptized Mercedes as the “Official Capital of Uruguayan Jazz.” For avid jazz lovers, Punta Del Este hosts the International Jazz Festival annually and showcases contemporary bands from every corner of the world. Just walking along the streets, you will find improvised bands playing, making the country come alive to jazz tunes.

4. Reminisce with Nostalgic Night

Retro club
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Taking place at the end of August, this festival combines both great music and hot weather! What better way to end a festive summer? This celebration is fairly simple: each year on the 24th of August, all nightclubs, radios, and various medias play “nostalgic” music. Widely broadcasted artists include: The Beatles, Queen, the Bee Gees, John Travolta, and numerous other legends. Originally, only hits from the 1960s and 1970s were played, but today music from the 1980s and 1990s is broadcasted as well. Along with becoming an official celebration, it is also a huge commercial success as many venues organize retro parties that are planned according to different decades, so be prepared to listen to your favorite old-school hits!

5. Milk Festival

Arroz con leche
FACEBOOK Hispanic Kitchen

On the last weekend of October, Uruguayans celebrate the Milk Festival in the town of Cardal for some music, dancing, food, and live shows! This little town is known as the milk capital of Uruguay and celebrate the year’s production with a popular party (inviting the whole world!) This three-day festival starts off with a big asado, where gigantic amounts of beef are grilled, and ends with a sweet delicacy: arroz con leche (rice and vanilla pudding.) Mainly focused on food rocked in a lively atmosphere, this celebration is my personal favorite!

Eve McGuardian

Contributor

Eve was born and raised in NYC and later on, moved to Paris. She grew up in an international home and is fluent in both French and English. Every chance she gets, she travels; either to discover a new culture or as a volunteer in an organization. The most memorable cities she has been to are: Ischia, a little island off the coast of Naples for the people, Istanbul for the culture, and Paris for the architecture.

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