Although Argentina is (along with Uruguay) the birthplace of Tango, it is not the typical location for Tango Festivals. Maybe it is because, for Tango tourists, Buenos Aires is like a continuous 365-day Tango festival all along. Let´s explore together the festival options in Argentina.
Why there are (almost) no Tango Festivals in Argentina
Anywhere in the tango world, festivals, marathons, and other gatherings are vital events, that allow dancers to expose themselves to different dance partners, widen their social networks, and progress and enrich their tango journey. This is especially important for dancers from places with small dance scenes where you cannot meet so many people and benefit from many varying dance experiences.
But this is very different in Buenos Aires. There is no place on earth with so many tango dancers as Buenos Aires, and there is no other city with such a diverse dancing crowd:
- 70-year-olds who have been dancing all their lives and ambitious 17-year-olds who hope to make an international dance career.
- Porteños who never set foot outside of Buenos Aires and international tango tourists who have danced on five continents.
- Traditionalists for whom Tango represents values that need conservation and multicolored queer dancers of a new generation.
All of this can be found every night on some dancefloor in Buenos Aires on one of the hundreds of places that regularly accommodate tango dancers – from occasional classes, and spontaneous friendly gatherings to the established Milongas with international prestige.
Almost all year long, several of the most reputable Tango teachers reside in Buenos Aires and give performances, group classes, private classes, and special seminars.
So who would need a dance festival then, when you have everything and everyone Tango-related within reach at any time?
Still, there are some festivals…
Having speculated why there are so few Tango Festivals in Argentina, now let´s look at some that need to be mentioned because they have such an important trajectory and reputation.
Buenos Aires Tango Festival
Every year in August, the Buenos Aires Tango Festival is organized by the city’s government. It is perhaps the most prestigious of all Tango events. A massive, city-wide celebration of Tango, it draws tens of thousands of attendees. The festival offers two weeks of activities, including concerts, exhibitions, dance lessons, and competitions. But the real heart of the festival lies in its vibrant social dancing scene.
Every night, dancers congregate at milongas — traditional social dance events — in community centers, cultural spaces, and even in the streets of Buenos Aires. The spirit of social inclusion is infectious, as dancers of all levels from beginners to seasoned milongueros mingle and dance. If you want to experience the epitome of social Tango dancing, this is your destination.
The festival also hosts the yearly World Tango Dance Tournament (in Spanish: Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango, also known as Mundial de Tango). This is considered the official Tango World Championship, and hundreds of dance couples compete in preliminaries all over the world to qualify for the finals in Buenos Aires.
While for many social dancers, the idea of “competing” and being judged on technical excellence is contrary to their motivation to dance tango, the tournament is certainly an important yearly recurring milestone in the life of many ambitious dancers.
CITA – Congreso Internacional de Tango
The dance legend Fabian Sala founded the International Tango Congress. Every year in March Fabian invites fellow Tango veteran maestros and new aspiring talents to teach and perform at a large international festival.
In 2024, CITA goes into its 24th year, it is a 5-day tango festival with more than 30 couples, 4 milongas, and more than 4 orchestras.
March is the beginning of the summer season and a great time to visit Buenos Aires.
Festival Nacional de Tango de La Falda (Cordoba)
The town of La Falda, nestled in the Sierras of Cordoba, is the stage for the Festival Nacional de Tango. This event is one of Argentina’s oldest Tango festivals, dating back to 1965, and takes place every July. While it has its share of Tango concerts and competitions, social dancers will be drawn to the nightly milongas.
What makes La Falda’s festival unique is its stunning location. Dancing Tango in the mountains, away from the city’s hustle and bustle, lends a distinct flavor to this festival. It offers a balance of excellent dancing, beautiful landscapes, and the chance to relax and recharge.
Other local Tango Festivals
Throughout Argentina, there are a lot of small Tango events and festivals that do not get much attention. It may be an occasion for local dancers to gather, inviting some performers and teachers from neighboring cities or Buenos Aires. Most of these events are publically financed and organized by local culture centers or associations.
Since finances have been quite problematic for Argentine municipalities in the last years, these festivals seldom run for many years, they may be canceled, or announced with delays, and the event websites may not always be working. If you are traveling through Argentina, it is probably best to ask in the hotel or locals on Facebook about local Milongas.
These are some examples of festivals, that have shown up on our radar in the last years:
- Held in Zárate, Festival Internacional de Tango de Zárate a small town not far from Buenos Aires, this can be an enjoyable visit. It is typically held in November, going into its 13th edition and offering a mix of live music, shows, dance classes, and milongas. Don´t be confused by the festival´s odd claim of being the “Summit of summits” (“el cumbre de cumbres)”. What makes this festival interesting is its strong community focus. Social Tango dancers will love the friendly and welcoming atmosphere, where locals and visitors alike gather to celebrate and dance Tango. Here, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a local milonga, offering a slice of true Argentine Tango life.
- The Festival de Tango de San Isidro offers a three-day event filled with Tango workshops, exhibitions, and concerts. Milongas are held in picturesque outdoor plazas, allowing dancers to enjoy the warm Argentine nights. Located just outside Buenos Aires, San Isidro has a charming, small-town feel, yet its proximity to the city makes it easily accessible. This festival usually takes place in November, offering another option for those visiting Argentina in the spring.
The International Day of Tango
The International Day of Tango takes place every year on December 11. What started as a joint birthday celebration for both Carlos Gardel and Julio De Caro, has become a quasi-national holiday with Tango-related commemorations and dance events all around the country.
Remember, each Tango festival experience is unique and often dependent on what you bring to it. Engage, explore, and immerse yourself, and you’ll come away with unforgettable dance memories. And as they say in Argentina, “El Tango te espera” – Tango awaits you!