A couple of days ago Coen read a message from Graeme and Luisa Bell. They are on their way to Ushuaia but in south Brazil wondered if maybe they should drive to Rio de Janeiro instead to watch the Carnival. Coen responded they could have a Carnival experience in Argentina as well: Gualeguaychu (Entre Rios).
And so came Coen’s idea to share our Carnival experience in Gualeguaychu. Here it is.
Gualeguaychu is thé place in Argentina to celebrate Carnaval. They celebrate the festival every Saturday night during the months of January and February (4 weeks before and after the actual date of Carnival). Not downtown, but in a stadium called a corsódromo.
In Gualeguaychu the corsódromo has 38,000 seats and when we were there (2007), three Carnival schools participated. Note that in South America a Carnival school can exist of dozens to hundreds of people – the numbers, like the whole celebration, are huge.
If we remember correctly: You buy a general ticket at the entrance, which is for the stands located in each corner of the corsódromo. Additionally, each school sells tickets (also at the entrance) for a seat section. You can find additional info on this website on the practical site of the celebration. We bought tickets for seats and sat all the way at the top which gave a fantastic view but also fresh air.
The spectacle starts at 10 pm, Argentinean time that is, which means it actually starts somewhere between 10.30 and 12. The show goes on until 3 or 4 am.
The carnival schools form the parade, each with four or five huge, splendid, extraordinary floats and in between are groups of people dancing in exorbitant costumes with lots of feathers and lots of bare skin. There is no show of political statements, as is often the case in the Netherlands, and they don’t throw candy and confetti either. Here, like in Brazil, it’s all about pomp and circumstance, to show your physical beauty to the spectators. It is major party time with loud, live music, challenging dancing: having fun is the main theme of Carnival here.
Spectators, on their turn, climb over the fence to get their picture taken with one of the beauties. The police often turn a blind eye, but sometimes take firm action if the person becomes a nuisance, taking him outside the stadium by the arm. But all in all, you can’t say that it is a mad, drunken mess. No, it’s a great party, where people enjoy themselves immensely, the atmosphere is relaxed and awesome, and it was great to be part of it.
There are various campgrounds in and around Gualeguaychu. It is party time, and don’t expect any peace and quietness there during the weekends. Live bands will play all day long on volume 10, crowds gather on the river beaches, go for a swim, drink their share of beer, listen to the music and will have lots of (loud) fun.