Each September the empanada festival in Tucumán brings together the best empanada chefs in the country. There are cooking displays, music and the fiercely contested ‘best empanada’ competition. The region produces spicy empanadas with golden pastry. Don’t eat for a week beforehand so you’ll have room to fit in as many as you can. Book bus tickets and accommodation early.
Festival de la Luz (Festival of Light), each August and September in Buenos Aires, is a collaboration of dozens of photography festivals around the world. All over the city free exhibitions, events, conferences and workshops are held, and even the smallest of art galleries participate. Look in newspapers for free events.
To celebrate the culture and lifestyle of the Argentine gauchos, each November the population of San Antonio de Areco, a small town near Buenos Aires, swells as people arrive from far afield to attend the Fiesta de la Tradición. There are horse-riding displays, live music, stalls selling gaucho clothes and metal work, and gaucho-inspired artwork is on show. The festival concludes on 10 November with the Día de la Tradición, which pays homage to José Hernández who wrote the epic gaucho poem Martín Fierro.
Situated just off the Ruta 40 in an oasis on the shores of Lago Buenos Aires, Los Antiguos is usually a sleepy country town. But come January and the Fiesta Nacional de la Cereza (cherry festival), now running for over a quarter-century, the hotels fill up, the streets crowd with cars, and people from all over Argentina come to enjoy the regional produce. There are stalls selling local fruit, including cherries, and crafts. Each night there are fireworks and at the end of the festival a Cherry Queen is chosen, attracting crowds of up to 30,000 people.
Attractive Villa General Belgrano in Córdoba keeps up the Oktoberfest tradition every year when the small German-style village turns into a mosh pit of beer lovers. Local beer halls fill up quickly and accommodation is really hard to find. Come for the party atmosphere and the mix of people, not for a peaceful weekend away. The locally brewed beers are always a favourite.
The Vendimia wine festival in Mendoza lasts from January right through to the first weeks of March and involves huge flamboyant parades day and night, featuring floats carrying the 17 candidates for Harvest Queen. The festival also promotes local growers and their products, as well as national musicians and artists. It has been celebrated for nearly 70 years and it attracts more and more people every year.