Patagonia is home to special events during the austral summer (November-March) that you should definitely check out when you visit the region.
Every year, between January and March, the region holds many attractions, and the scent of celebration is everywhere: food, music, dancing, adventure and more. Here is a list ordered by dates (from the earliest to the latest) to help you make plans.
1. Sheep Shearing Festival
It is held in mid-January in Villa Tehuelches, 100-kilometers from Punta Arenas, where traditional Magellan games are played, including demonstrations of sheep shearing. You can also play La Rayuela, where you throw a metal disc aiming at the centre of a mud-filled target at a 14-metre distance, eat local foods such as spit roast lamb over an open fire, and listen to local musicians.
2. Patagonian Rodeo and Folklore International Festival
It takes place in Puerto Ibáñez in mid-January, drawing riders from Chile and Argentina, music bands, local and regional authorities and visitors from both countries.
One of Patagonia’s biggest traditional celebrations, you will listen to payadores, sharp-witted fast-talking entertainers who improvise humorous rhymes, take in the folklore, local crafts, and watch riders attempt to remain on a bucking horse for 8-14 seconds to win.
3. Pilgrimage to the Virgin of Montserrat
It is a religious festival also held in January by Río Verde municipality and the Diocese of Magallanes that dates back to 30 years. Pilgrims visit the Virgin of Montserrat to renew their faith and spend a special time with their families.
Many people pitch tents and bring picnic blankets. While they wait for the procession to start, they eat a barbecue or a traditional cazuela, a soup of meat that can be chicken, beef or lamb, with a slice of corn on the cob and other vegetables.
4. The largest barbecue in Tierra del Fuego
This event is held in early February in Tierra del Fuego (in the town of Porvenir). It brings together national and regional singers, folk bands and Chilean and Argentinian cooks with one single aim: to entertain and delight the taste buds of everyone there.
Lamb, potatoes and salad feature heavily in this Patagonian food festival. What makes it special and unique is that whole lambs are spit roast for 8-12 hours. The latest record is 136 lambs barbecued back in 2018.
5. Terra Australis Mountainbike Race
Terra Australis is the southernmost stage bike race in the Americas. It takes riders along Patagonian trails in the height of summer. Almost 200km long, with 5,000m of climbs, 80% of the route is on trails and forestry and livestock paths. Held in early February around Punta Arenas, whoever crosses the finish line first is awarded a cash price.
6. Cochrane Traditional Fair
This celebration shows the traditions of the town of Cochrane and Aysén region in all their glory. It is a unique event usually held in the second week of February. It celebrates culture through activities such as rodeos, sheep shearing, horsemanship, music (accordion and country music groups), traditional food, and handicrafts. There’s also the traditional Pioneers’ Parade that honors the men and women who first settled in the area.
7. Sheep Herder Country Fair
The town of Primavera in Tierra del Fuego hosts one of the region’s most eagerly awaited fairs every penultimate weekend of February: the celebration of the sheepherder and rural workers. Local hosts give a warm welcome to their visitors and show off their skills as herders and shearers.
It features games like boules; traditional foods such as spit roast lamb and dried mussel soup; sheepdog trials, rodeos, music, dancing, among other activities.
Hooked? Check out our guide for an Alternative trip to Patagonia to learn about other interesting celebration in the region that you can witness first-hand during your travels.
Enrich your Patagonia experience
All of this awaits you when you visit Patagonia during the austral summer.Check the exact dates when each of these events will be held next time and consider including some of them in your itinerary to enrich your travel experience.