Popularly known as Gualeguaychú carnival, El Carnaval del Pais is considered as one of the most important traditional festivals of Argentina. Possibly, it was originated from the pagan rituals to Bacchus, the god of wine, like the feasts that were celebrated in honor of the ‘Bee Apis’ in Egypt, or in the Roman ‘Saturnalia’, in honor of the god Saturn. With its impressive artistic display it is considered one of the most important carnivals in the world, along with the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro and the Carnival of Venice.
Gualeguaychú, a city in the province of Entre Rios, Argentina, located on the left bank of the Gualeguaychu River, hosts El Carnaval del Pais annually, every Saturday of the months of January and February. The festival is regionally well-known as the Gualeguaychú carnival, which is attended by thousands of people from many other provinces of the country and countries around the world, who enthusiastically enjoy the impressive artistic display that has more than thirty years of experience and in each edition adds new fans and followers.
The Carnival can be easily described as a perfect blending of dance and music. The vigorous and seemingly wild rhythm of the Brazilian music is considered to be born out of the street musicians of Uruguay, which is the reminiscent of the feathers of ‘Corrientes’. The main attraction of the festival, the scintillating parade along with exotic music takes place in corsódromo, a specially created stadium, opened in 1997. The stadium is well equipped with a number of stands, chairs and a VIP area. With a seating capacity for 40,000 people, this corsódromo is the second in South America.
Each year three groups of Samba clubs take part in the parade and at the same time, they compete with each other for the title of the carnival. The winner is automatically selected for the next edition of the carnival. Each group includes over 700 dancers, interpreting the theme of the year, and is accompanied by four or five huge, stupendous and extraordinarily decorated floats. In between the floats, members of the particular group dance gleefully, as if in a trance, in exorbitant and exquisite costumes with lots of feathers and lots of bare skin.
The colourful costumes of the participants are carefully designed and incredibly inventive. However, some of the dancers dress very little and cover only the essentials, much to the delight of the visitors and the people present in the corsódromo. The groups are rewarded for the novelty and uniqueness of their costumes. The synchronicity of the choreographies and the glamorous display of the gigantic floats, asserting the theme of the year, make the viewers vibrate with ecstasy and dance crazily, from the boxes and grandstands, to the delight of the dancers and musicians.
Though the parade is organized by the sports and social clubs, basically it is the blood, sweat, spirit and heart of Gualeguaychú that creates this amazing, spectacular and breathtaking show, giving it a distinctive stamp of its own. Officially the carnival is scheduled to be held on every Saturday of the months of January and February, but sometimes it is extended to the first weekend of March also.
Like the Rio Carnival in Brazil, Gualeguaychú carnival is all about pomp and pleasure, fun and frolic, thrill and entertainment and a proud exhibition of ornamental beauty of the scantily dressed female dancers. The carnival is the perfect stage to exhibit proudly and boldly the youthful appeal and attractiveness to the amazed and amused eyes of the dazed spectators. Gualeguaychú carnival is a grand colourful party, associated with loud and live music accompanied by crazy beats, added with provocative and gyrating dance of the participating girls, for having fun, getting entertained and gathering the experience of a life time.
It can be safely stated that the Gualeguaychú carnival is undoubtedly the most important social and cultural event in Gualeguaychú’s calendar. Each year it brings lots of foreigners, which in turn boosts up the Country’s economy.