We all know the famous German Oktoberfest. Originally form Munich, Oktoberfest is a party where everything revolves around the consumption of beer in tents installed by the different beer brands, parades and other events. This all takes place the two weeks prior to the first Sunday of October. Beer Week in Paysandu
, Uruguay, is the same concept on a different scale and geographical setting. Interested in experiencing an Oktoberfest in South America? Read on!
What is Beer Week?
Celebrated since 1966, the Beer Week in Paysandú had its 47th edition in 2012. The fairgrounds are installed by the "beach", as the locals 'sanduceros' call the banks of the Uruguay River. As you enter, you’ll see several stands selling local products: food, crafts, clothing, gift. After this street market you’ll find to food and beverage stands. There're also bars selling different brands of national and foreign beer. You can buy bottles or cans, as well as the classical one-liter jar of draft beer at reasonable prices ($100 or USD5 a one-liter barrel and $80 or USD4 a one-liter bottle).
Daily performances start 9pm at the Amphitheater of the Uruguayan River: the largest open theater of Uruguay, with a capacity of 20,000 seats, where shows bring great regional artists. In 2012 shows included Diego Torres, in addition to the popular cumbia group Wachiturros, stand ups by Dady Brieva and Maxi de la Cruz, magazines like Boom Diosa and rock bands from Uruguay –No Te Va Gustar, La Vela Puerca- and Argentina - Vilma Palma, La Bersuit.
During and after the show, the night continues at pubs installed in the fairgrounds, like Tres Perros from Montevideo. There you can still enjoy some music and buy drinks, while you rest on your seat or couch by a table. You can choose to end the night at a nightclub in Paysandú such as W, Polo or others, mostly clustered in the area near the river and the Paysandu Harbor.
When is the Beer Week in Paysandu?
Beer Week is always celebrated during the Holy Week or Easter Week, which ensures, for the southern hemisphere, autumn climatic conditions similar to early September-October in the northern hemisphere. In Uruguay, where the state is separated from the church, Holy Week is known as "Tourism Week", since the good weather tempts Uruguayans to go on holidays to the Uruguayan beaches or countryside, or to some other destination in the region.
How can I buy tickets?
You can buy your tickets in the entrance of the fairgrounds, or in advance at an Abitab, which is a network of collection centers conveniently located throughout Uruguay. Prices vary but fairground tickets in 2012 cost $80 Uruguayans (USD 4) and entering the amphitheater cost $ 100 on popular areas and $350 in the VIP section (USD5 and USD18 respectively).
How do I get to Paysandú?
During the seven days of Beer Week, a lot of visitors visit the City of Paysandu from various parts of Uruguay and neighboring Argentina. Paysandú is located in the northwest of Uruguay and by the coast of the Uruguay River. It’s close to Argentina, from which is easily reached crossing the bridge from Colón, in the Argentinian state of Entre Rios, directly to Paysandú.
From Argentina, buses coming from Colón, Concepción del Uruguay and Buenos Aires stop at Terminal Paysandú, crossing the bridge. Also from the Uruguayan departments of Montevideo, San José, Colonia, Flores, Río Negro, Salto, Artigas and Tacuarembó buses to Paysandú are run by Uruguayan companies. Copay, Agencia Central and Nuñez are the greater carriers, all offering very comfortable buses with reclining soft seats. The trip from Montevideo to Paysandú takes 4.5 hours; a round trip costs about $ 850 (43USD).
Where to stay?
Paysandú has a variety of hotels and inns. During Beer Week in Paysandú, camping grounds are offered.
What to do during the Beer Week in Paysandú?
Besides spending your evening-nights on the fairgrounds and amphitheater, you can enjoy the many charms of the city of Paysandu, with its center gradually becoming semi-pedestrian, the sightseeing tours
organized by the town in boats or buses through the city, the port, the Uruguay River and picturesque colonial towns nearby.
You can also spend some days in a thermal resort nearby: Guaviyú, San Nicanor or Dayman, the first in the department of Paysandú, the second on the border with Salto and the third near the city of Salto. Uruguay has natural hot springs of high quality that ensure a perfect rest and relaxation for your holidays.
Be sure to try the Chajá dessert, pizza from El Metro, ice creams from Mamacita and in the fairgrounds, Norteña, a Uruguayan alternative to the two other big national beers: Pilsen and Patricia, but on which is increasingly difficult to find in the country.
Have a great Beer Week in Paysandú! Enjoy!