In the United States and Europe, summer is coming to an end. With it, sadly, go the great outdoor music festivals that make the warm season so exciting. But fear not. In South America, springtime has just arrived and with it come the great musical gatherings south of the equator. From sultry dancing to head-banging metal, from traditional rhythms to the latest electronica, there is a festival for every taste. Some fill up stadiums, others crowd the beaches, each promises a unique musical experience.
If you hurry, you may still make it to the closing of Buenos Aires’ world-renowned Tango Festival, which began on Aug. 10 and will end on Aug. 23. Tango is Argentina’s national dance, famous the world over for its complex choreographies and that ever-present rose between dancers’ lips. While it’s mostly associated with dank, smoky bars and sultry twilight, at Tango Buenos Aires, hundreds of couples will be performing some of the most elaborate dance steps you’ll ever see in theaters as well as out in the streets.
It’s understandable, though, if you can’t get off work with such short notice. Consider instead heading down to Buenos Aires for Mutek Festival Sept. 22-24. Mutek bills itself as an “international platform for the dissemination and development of digital creativity in sound, music, audiovisual arts and immersive technology.” It features some of the most inventive and forward-thinking artists in any genre. It may be better to think of it less as a conventional music festival, and more of a Petri dish of creativity.
If avant garde digital sound is not your cup of tea, just skip across the border to Brazil, where the iconic Rock in Rio festival will attract hundreds of thousands of music fans for ten days beginning Sept. 15. One of the most famous rock and pop music fests in the world, this year’s Rock in Rio will be headlined by some of the most popular artists from around the globe, including Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, and many more, as well as some of the best Brazilian rock, pop, and tropical music acts.
You may want to hang out in Rio for a couple of weeks, until Ultra Brazil, a massive EDM (electronic dance music) festival opens Oct. 12. This year’s headliners include David Guetta, Jamie Jones, and Adam Beyer. But that would be boring. Better to first pay a visit to Cali, Colombia for the Salsa Music World Festival (Sept. 28-Oct. 1), the largest salsa festival in the world, for some serious hip-shaking and what-happens-here-stays-here adventure.
As long as you’re at it, why not go rock the night at Rockout Fest in Independencia, Chile? It features the best heavy metal in the hemisphere. You can then finish out the year at Universo Paralello in Ituberá, Brazil. Nominally a trance music festival, it is in fact, one of the wildest parties anywhere, starting out as a New Year’s celebration (it begins Dec. 27, of course, wouldn’t want to rush it) and then going for a few days after the ball drops for a once-in-a-lifetime, psychedelic freakout.
Security will be tight. Earlier this year, gunmen rushed into the BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, shooting wildly into the crowds, leaving five people dead and 15 injured. And ticket prices will be quite high. At Rock in Rio, a multi-day pass will set you back several hundred dollars. But if you’re lucky enough to make it to one of these crazy fests, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to send a postcard.