New Years in Argentina

Buenos Aires musician
Buenos Aires musician in San Telmo

Argentina loves a good party and it seems this is never more true than on New Years Eve.  My own experience celebrating New Years in Argentina will remain one of my most memorable ever, but I wanted to know how typical Argentinians celebrate as well.  The experts over at Wanderlust Expediciones let me know that my night of revelry so many years ago is pretty typical of the jubilant celebrations had all over the country.

While Christmas is a pretty chilled out, family affair, for Argentinians, New Year’s Eve is all about painting the town red.  Our friend, Hebe, over at Wanderlust explained that New Year’s is a family celebration, but also a friend celebration.  I know, it kind of melted my heart a little bit too.  And while there are no formal traditions to celebrate the holiday across the country, there are a few informal traditions you’d see anywhere in the country.

All over the country, on New Year’s Eve, people eat dried fruits and nuts during the day.  This makes a lot more sense further south, like in Patagonia or Tierra del Fuego, but summer in most of the country is fairly hot so this tradition of eating wintery foods is a bit amusing.  This warm weather makes going out on the town pretty appealing (at least more so than donning clunky sorrels and puffy coats like we’ll be doing in Montana) as well.

Most Argentinians celebrate with a special dinner at a friend’s house then go out on the town later (think, post-midnight).  Also, since it’s summer, a lot of Buenos Aires residents will be out of town so the city’s a bit less crowded than usual.  Not all restaurants are open though, so you’ll definitely still need for reservations at one of the open restaurants.  Elsewhere in the country, people tend to stick around more during the summer months.  So, early in the night definitely calmer and your meal will be less crazy than trying to get a table in NYC over the holiday.

For tourists who aren’t used to eating dinner at 11 pm, you can make earlier dinner reservations and avoid the crowd.  Many hotels and backpacker hostels host parties starting at foreigner-friendly times.  These usually include a theme dinner and maybe a tango show to watch.  English speakers in Buenos Aires should make use of the Time Out magazine’s restaurant suggestions and other party suggestions.

Lots of bigger towns will have a fireworks display at midnight and of course the capitol city really delivers on this front.  Firework displays are biggest at Puerto Madero, but lots of people set off their own fireworks elsewhere throughout the city.  The best part of celebrating New Year’s in Buenos Aires for me was watching fireworks over park in Recoleta, sharing sangria out of a bucket with an Argentine family and some traveling hippies.  The mood and open spirit around was pretty contagious, but I couldn’t make it all the way until the nearby club’s opening hours.

Dance clubs or Boliches in Buenos Aires only open at 2 am and go past dawn – so make sure you’ve taken a nap earlier in the day if you plan on going out!  This is when the locals come out and the dance floors get packed.  The Puerto Madero, San Telmo and Palermo neighborhoods have everything from small peña to a multi-story club with international DJs.  These clubs are typically more about dancing and less about getting wasted or being snooty, so even someone who avoids dance clubs will probably enjoy the scene in Buenos Aires.

Elsewhere in Argentina, firework displays and street parties are common to find.  In the more touristy areas of El Calafate, Ushuaia, Puerto Madryn, Bariloche, and Mendoza you’re likely to find hotels and restaurants hosting New Year’s Parties.  If you’re a bit more off-the-beaten-path locale, don’t be surprised if you get invited to a family’s dinner party or a sangria picnic in the park.

Looking to spend next New Year’s in Argentina?  Let Detour plan your perfect Argentina adventure hiking in the Andes, strolling among penguins, or sipping wine in the countryside.