From the scorching subtropical summers of Chaco and Formosa provinces, to the freezing, gale-force winter winds of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina has wildly varied climates.
When to go
Argentina’s seasons are reversed from the northern hemisphere’s. The best time to visit Buenos Aires is in spring (September through November), when the jacarandas are in bloom and temperatures are blissfully cool, and in fall (March through May). Summer (December through February) in the capital is hot and humid. Mendoza, Córdoba and the Lake District are all spectacular in fall: the leaves put on an epic display, temperatures are comfortable and the crowds are thin.
Summer is the best time to hit Patagonia, when the weather’s milder and more services are available. In other seasons, public transport becomes trickier as services thin out. Northern Argentina can be brutally hot in summer and is best visited in spring. Winter (June through August) and fall in this region are also pleasant.
Ski season runs mid-June through mid-October, and the resorts are most expensive and most crowded in July and August when every porteño (person from Buenos Aires) seems to be on the slopes.
The most expensive times to travel are the Argentine vacation months of January, February and July.
Although Argentina is less prone to wild festivals than other South American countries, there are several fiestas which – depending on your interests – might be worth planning your trip around. Aside from the festivals listed here, nearly every town in Argentina has its own fiesta.
Festival Nacional del Folklore (late Jan)
Near the city of Córdoba, in the Central Sierras, the town of Cosquín hosts the National Festival of Folk Music (www.aquicosquin.org) during the last week of January. It’s the country’s largest and best known folklórico (folk music) festival.
Buenos Aires Tango (late Feb-early Mar)
During the last week of February and first week of March, Buenos Aires celebrates its native dance with masterful performances shown at different venues all over the city. For details, see www .festivaldetango.com.ar.
Carnaval (late Feb-early Mar)
Though the pre-Lenten festival is not as rockin’ in Argentina as it is in Brazil, the celebration is rowdy in the northeast, especially in the cities of Gualeguaychú and Corrientes. In the northwest (particularly the Quebrada de Humahuaca), there’s more emphasis on traditional music and dancing, making it a particularly good place to be. Dates vary around the end of February and beginning of March.
Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (late Feb-early Mar)
Mendoza’s National Wine Harvest Festival kicks off with parades, folkloric events and a royal coronation – all in honor of Mendoza’s intoxicating beverage. The festival takes place in Mendoza city, the de facto capital of Argentina’s wine country. For more information, see www .vendimia.mendoza.gov.ar in Spanish.
Día de Virgen de Luján (8 May)
Thousands of devout believers make a 65km pilgrimage to the pampas town of Luján in honor of the Virgin Mary; other large pilgrimages to Luján take place in early October and on December 8, but May’s is the largest.
Festival & Mundial de Tango
Buenos Aires’ best tango dancers perform at venues throughout the city during the Tango Festival in the second half of August. It’s a much more local event than the internationally attended Mundial de Tango (World Tango Festival) the following week.
Festival Nacional de la Cerveza (early Oct)
Join the swillers and oompah bands at the National Beer Festival, Villa General Belgrano’s Oktoberfest in the Central Sierras. For details, see http:// elsitiodelavilla.com/oktoberfest.
Eisteddfod (late Oct)
This lively Welsh festival, featuring plentiful grub and choral singing, takes place in the wee Patagonian towns of Trelew and Trevelin. It’s a great one for inducing those wait-am- I-really-in-South-America? moments.
Día de la Tradición (Nov 10)
The Day of Traditional Culture festival kicks off with a salute to the gaucho and is especially significant in San Antonio de Areco, the most classically gaucho of towns. It’s also important – and decidedly less touristy – in the mountain town of San José de Jáchal, in San Juan.
Marcha del Orgullo Gay (mid Nov)
Buenos Aires’ Gay Pride Parade (www.marcha delorgullo.org.ar) draws thousands of gay, lesbian, and transgendered citizens, as well as their supporters, who march (with the music up loud!) from Plaza de Mayo to the Congreso.