When to come...

Our courses run all year round and Uruguay has different things to offer at different times of year.

The high season for tourists is from December to February, which is summertime in Uruguay. Many people spend their summer at the beaches all along the coast, where there are places to party as well as quiet relaxing beaches. Montevideo's city beaches are also lively in summer – you can swim and sunbathe as well as enjoy beach sports such as volleyball.

Christmas and New Year make up what the Uruguayans call "las fiestas" (parties), and there are lots of fun things to do. Carnival runs throughout February and there are events almost every night. The biggest date is the ‘llamadas’, which are held in the first week of February (check the web for exact dates).

In March the northern city of Tacuarembó hosts a Gaucho festival where you can learn about the lifestyles of Uruguay's cowboys. There are rodeos, cattle competitions, craft sales. country fairs, folk dances and barbecues. Or, if rock music is more your thing, Uruguay's first rock festival "Pilsen Rock" is held in late March and you can find out who are the best local bands, both old and new.

Easter week has been renamed "tourism week" by the Uruguayans and lots of people use the days off work to visit other parts of the country. One popular event is the Paysandú beer festival – like "Oktoberfest" – in the north-west of Uruguay. The event includes live music, an outdoor theatre, lots of beer, and you can relax on the city's extensive grassy riverbanks.

In April the gauchos come to Montevideo for the annual Criolla – a huge country fair and rodeo in a large park in the city. It runs for two weeks and you can watch the expert cowboys, try traditional foods, buy handicrafts and meet real life gauchos.

Uruguayans celebrate Labour Day on May 1st with political rallies, processions, and live music in the city's streets and squares.

Autumn, winter and spring are good times to do some of the outdoor activities that Uruguay has to offer, as summer is too hot for many people. Explore the hills around Minas and Piriápolis, go rock climbing at the Quebrada de los Cuervos in Treinta y Tres, visit the caves in Rivera, go on horseback treks in the peaceful countryside, or explore the unspoilt beaches in the east. Be warned, the water is usually too cold for swimming from June to August.

However you can have an outdoor dip in winter if you go to visit the hot springs in Paysandú and Salto. They are particularly popular in June, July and August, and people travel from all over the country to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and health benefits of the naturally warm water.

Uruguayan wine, especially the classic ‘Tannat’, is worth drinking all year round but in June there is a one-day wine festival where fourteen vineyards open their doors to the public to share fine wines and roast lamb. It is also this month that Uruguay celebrates the birth of its most famous tango singer, Carlos Gardel, with a tango festival mainly in his hometown of Tacuarembó but also in Montevideo. It includes live music, tango performances and milongas.

One of the nightlife highlights of the year is August 24th, known in Uruguay as Nostalgia Night, where DJs across the city dust off the classic records from yesteryear, both Uruguayan and international, the older generations take over the clubs and discos, and young and old dance the night away together.

Spring starts in September or October, and this is also the start of the whale-watching season, which runs through until January. You can take boat trips from coastal towns in the east, such as Punta del Este, and you can also visit colonies of seals and sea lions which have their pups at this time of year.

Heritage day is in October and across the city public and private buildings alike open their doors to the public, allowing visitors a close-up view of places like the Parliament building, grand embassies, colonial mansions, and the iconic Ancel Tower (which has a stunning view across the city from the upper floors).



Cigarette shop: low-cost cigarettes