Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires are going to be quieter than you’d imagine here. You may heard stories about how the whole city shuts down as family oriented gatherings take precedent to feast and cheers the holidays. But don’t panic, this is only partly true. Although many of the stores close early, the city won’t be a total ghost town on both days, but finding the right things to do may take some extra digging and inventiveness.
Plan Ahead for EVERYTHING
One thing you need to keep in mind is that on Christmas, and even more so on New Year’s Eve, transportation may be a little tricky. Public transportation will still run, but many of them will reduce hours and you can expect less frequent trains, buses and such. Taxis also need a day or two off now and then, and on Xmas and NYE many of them will stay home, so expecting a smaller fleet circulating the city. The worst hours are: Christmas Eve 9:00 pm-01:00 am, Christmas Day lunch time (11:00 am-3:00 pm), New Year’s Eve 10:30 pm-01:30 am. Your best best will always be to travel where you need to be well ahead of time to avoid any delays, because nothing is worse than when the fireworks start going off and your waiting in the street for any transportation option.
Many of the stores (kiosks, grocery stores, chinos, etc.) will close early, or in some cases not bother to open at all during these holidays, and who could blame them? If you plan on spending hours on a rooftop, or at a party somewhere, be sure to prepare all your supplies (booze, wine, groceries) early in in the day so you’re not left without anything to wet your whistle. Most of these stores will be open until late afternoon Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. There are bound to be some outliers though so all is not lost. It may be a laborious search though!
Places for when the Clock Strikes Twelve
Rooftops: A popular past time for celebrating Christmas or New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires is, of course, to find a rooftop, the higher the better, and watch the fireworks. Imbibing in a few cocktails is a great way to get loose before the city erupts in a sea of colorful, rogue pyrotechnics at midnight. This is a good, low cost way to enjoy the holiday, just grab a couple of friends and post up on your building’s roof or if you are lucky, your terraza and wait for the neighborhood fireworks display. Some of the city’s best rooftop bars and lounges may be open depending on how much or little their staff protests the decision to remain open. As always, check availability in advance as reservations and higher pricing may be in effect.
Good general areas to celebrate: On both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve Puerto Madero will have several organized firework displays along side all the typical random Porteño pyrotechnics. You’ll see lots of families and groups of friends gather there on NYE with a plethora of champagne and booze. If you are staying in the same neighborhood, San Telmo or Retiro, a stroll down to the docks will be well worth your time.
San Telmo’s Plaza Dorrego will be a younger, more bohemian crowd on New Year’s Eve with some bars theoretically being open in the vicinity. In years past the crowds have gathered there later in the morning though and are not always present at 12 midnight. Palermo Soho’s Plaza Serrano and Plaza Armenia should have similar scenes with and ideally with only a hand full of the bars open nearby. Palermo Hollywood‘s club district should be begin to thump (see New Year’s Eve parties below) come 2:00 am.
Restaurants that decide to stay open on either holiday may have a special menu and reservation only policy. Their decision to stay open varies from year to year so research and some advanced planning will be necessary. Unfortunately for travelers, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are family oriented affairs so crowds will be thin on Xmas and the party won’t get started until late on NYE. Check into El Impercial, Cucina D’onore, Uco Restaurant, Mueseo Evita Restaurante, Victoria Brown, Nuestros Secreto, Mishiguene, La Mar, Sunae Asian Cantina to see if they have something going on. In years past they have.
Tango Shows: If a makeshift plan doesn’t sound like your style, perhaps planning a full on dinner, show and celebration is. Many of Buenos Aires’ famous tango shows remain open on the holidays and offer special packages for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, like the Esquina Carlos Gardel tango show. Guests will be treated to a special evening, beginning with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres like smoked salmon and focaccia, then a 3 course gourmet dinner, dessert and a one-of-a-kind tango show. Afterwards, as the clock strikes twelve, guests are invited to join in a champagne reception. And no need to worry about getting to and from- transportation is included.
If you’re interested in going all out, getting dressed to the 9, VIP treatment…then check out the Rojo Tango Show and New Year’s Party, all taking place at the world famous Faena Hotel. You’ll be treated to a truly luxurious Argentine experience! Gourmet foods like grilled octopus, braised lamb matched with the finest wines the country has to offer, followed by a unique and sexy tango show. Afterward, party at the hotel with the jet set, drinking signature cocktails until the sun comes up. There is also private pickup and drop off at the hotel, so no need to worry too much about hailing a cab when the night turns into day.
What if you could tour one of Buenos Aires’ most unique buildings and end with a 360 view of the city’s skyline? Palacio Barolo’s New Year’s Tour is the answer! Palacio Barolo (ranked in our “10 most badass Buenos Aires buildings“), architecturally inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, is truly a marvel to behold. The tour breezes through the main floors of the building, all while tour guides tell you the history of the building and how it relates to the different allegories of Dante. The tour then retires to the top of the building’s 100-meter lighthouse spire where champagne will be served and guests have a perfect view of the city’s fireworks. Not something you do everyday.
New Year’s Eve Parties
If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, by that we mean if you feel like dancing all night long until the sun comes up, then you’re in luck. Buenos Aires has developed a reputation for being a city with legendary clubs, especially the Niceto Club located in one of the city’s most well known nightlife districts in Palermo Hollywood. Known for putting on some of the most unique parties in BsAs each week they always have some fun surprises in store. Club Kika in neighboring Palermo Soho will be holding their annual Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve parties as well as the usual Buenos Aires club usual suspects.
If you’re looking for a party that’s a bit more on the classy side, check out the Fiesta Fin del Año 2017 at The Clubhouse. Located in Palermo Soho, this members only club is opening its doors to the public this year for a New Year’s Eve bash that’s sure to go down in the books. Guests are treated to an open bar with traditional cocktails (beer, wine, etc.) a champagne toast at midnight, and hors d’oeuvres. After wetting your whistle a bit, chow down on a traditional Argentine asado, and save room for dessert. There will also be a live band and DJs, so you can work up a sweat on the dance floor.