From world-class polo tournaments to Gay Pride and the greand opening of the opera season, Buenos Aires year is littered with unmissable events. For an unforgettable cultural experience in Buenos Aires, plan your trip to coincide with one of the city's top events.
Feast of the Epiphany (January 6)
If you see children’s shoes left outside front doors on the night of January 5, it’s probably indicating the festival of the Epiphany. Marking the end of the Christmas period, it signifies the visitation of the Three Wise Men, who came with gifts. Good children are rewarded with gifts left in their shoes (bad ones, apparently, have lumps of coal instead). The occasion is usually a time of family feasting.
Carnaval Porteño (February)
Although not as large or famous as in Rio, this annual event also has parades with emphasis on drum-based music and dance. Don’t expect to see one long paradel the fun is more dispersed. Here, over 100 murgas (marching street bands) entertain residents of different neighborhoods, usually in smaller, gated-off areas. Expect plenty of color, both in the costumes and in and musical noise of the cymbals and drums.
Opening of Opera & Ballet Season (March)
Buenos Aires has a thriving theater scene, and at the prestigious Teatro Colon, opera hasn’t lost any of its impact or importance since opening in 1908, with Verdi’s Aida. The opera and ballet season is long awaited, opening after the summer break in March. Unless you’re very well organised or well connected, it is difficult to get decent tickets for major productions, but look out also for music recitals and non-subscription performances.
Dia de la Revolucion de Mayo (May 25)
Political, social and unionist groups to commemoration the anniversary of the 1810 revolution and independence from Spain, with events centered on Plaza de Mayo, which is named after the revolution. With a few obligatory formalities from political leaders, musical and cultural entertainment takes place in the plaza with marching bands laden with color and costume.
Dia de la Independencia (July 9)
A public and national holiday, commemorations take place throughout the city, with parades and festivals. Also known as May Revolution Day, it marks the date in 1816 when the nation was granted independence from Spain. There’s a service held at the cathedral, then the cafés along Avenida de Mayo serve up hot chocolate with churros (a long doughnut favored by those who call Buenos Aires home).
Fashion Week (August)
The fashionistas come out to play at this glamorous event, held twice a year. The most significant fashion even in the country, it showcases leading brands and emerging designers, from the chic to the downright daring. Visit the showrooms and see the catwalk shows; it's a great way to see the work of local designers. Check www.bafweek.com.ar for details.
Festival Y Mundial de Tango (August)
Dance aficionados, joined by plenty of international visitors, come together for this massive celebration of one of Argentina’s most prolific cultures. Live orchestras, dance shows, tango-related films and plenty of milongas (dance parties) mark this two-week festival. Straight after the festival comes the world championship where the crème de la crème some together in a dance culture that has emerged from backstreet bordellos to high-society ballrooms.
Polo Championships and the Argentine Derby (November)
This dramatic display of horsemanship, adored by Portenos, celebrates a sport that Argentina embraced with such panache when the British introduced it a century ago. The Buenos Aires polo tournament season runs from March through May and from September through December, although the pinnacle of the sporting year comes in November when the Campeonato Argentino Abierto (Argentine Open Championship) is held. Most major events take place at Campo Argentina de Polo. In the same month, the Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo sees top thoroughbreds in action, with the start of the Copa Precoces, run over 800 metres for 2-year-old horses. For polo see www.aapolo.com; for horseracing see www.palermo.com.ar.
Marcha del Orgullo Gay (November)
Buenos Aires is one of the most tolerant and liberal cities in Latin America, with a gay scene which compares to the best in Europe. The first Saturday of November sees the Pride Parade, marking the anniversary of the formation of the city's first gay group, in 1969. Expect around 250,000 gathering for the march, which heads towards the Palacio, with marching bands, artists and dancers.
International Buenos Aires Jazz Festival (November)
From swing, nuevo tango and classic bebop, this six-day spring festival brings together artists from around the world, especially Argentine top musicians, many of whom are now based overseas. Most of the action takes place around the Centro Cultural Recoleta, plus venues in La Boca. Look out also for classes, music clinics and workshops.