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The seasons in Argentina are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Buenos Aires is ideal in fall (Mar-May) and spring (Sept-Nov), when temperatures are mild. The beaches and resort towns are packed with vacationing Argentines in summer (Dec-Mar), while Buenos Aires becomes somewhat deserted of locals, which is not a bad thing regarding traffic. Plan a trip to Patagonia and the southern Andes in summer, when days are longer and warmer. Winter (June-Aug) is the best time to visit Iguazú and the Northwest, when the rains and heat have subsided; but spring (Aug-Oct) is also pleasant, as temperatures are mild and the crowds have cleared out.

Climate -- Except for a small tropical area in northern Argentina, the country lies in the Temperate Zone, characterized by cool, dry weather in the south and warmer, humid air in the center. Accordingly, January and February are quite hot -- often in the high 90s to more than 100°F (35°C-40°C) -- while winter (approximately July-Oct) can be chilly.

Holidays -- Public holidays are January 1 (New Year's Day), Good Friday, March 24 (Truth and Justice Day) May 1 (Labor Day), May 25 (First Argentine Government), June 10 (National Sovereignty Day), June 20 (Flag Day), July 9 (Independence Day), August 17 (Anniversary of the Death of General San Martín), October 12 (Día de la Raza), December 8 (Immaculate Conception Day), and December 25 (Christmas). Christmas, however, is usually celebrated on December 24, and called Noche Buena. Many stores and other services close this day.

Festivals & Special Events -- Several holidays and festivals are worth planning a trip around; the best place to get information for these events is through your local Argentine tourism office. Carnaval (Mardi Gras), the week before the start of Lent, is celebrated in many towns in Argentina, although to a much lesser extent than in neighboring Brazil. The main area for this is in Gualeguaychú, about 3 hours north of Buenos Aires in Entre Rios Province. In Salta, citizens throw a large parade, including caricatures of public officials and "water bomb" fights. The Gaucho Parade takes place in Salta on June 16, with music by folk artists and gauchos dressed in traditional red ponchos with black stripes, leather chaps, black boots, belts, and knives. For more gaucho madness, visit the city of San Antonio de Areco, about 1 1/2 hours from Buenos Aires. Día de la Tradición is generally celebrated around November 10, when gauchos and the tourists who love them flock to the picturesque town.

Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) takes place in towns throughout the Northwest the night before the summer solstice (June 20) to give thanks for the year's harvest. Día de Independencia (Independence Day) is celebrated in Tucumán on July 9. Exodo Jujeño (Jujuy Exodus) takes place August 23 and 24, when locals reenact the exodus of 1812. The Batalla de Tucumán (Battle of Tucumán) celebrates Belgrano's victory over the Spanish on September 24. And the Fiesta Provincial del Turismo (Provincial Tourist Festival) takes place in December in Puerto Iguazú.

The Buenos Aires version of Carnaval, or Mardi Gras, is called Fiesta de las Murgas, and though it's not as colorful as Rio de Janeiro's or even the one in Gualeguaychú, it is celebrated every weekend in February. Various neighborhoods have costumed street-band competitions full of loud music, drums, and dancing. Contact the Buenos Aires tourism office (www.bue.gov.ar) for more information.

The World Tango Festival is celebrated in early to mid-October, with various events, many concentrated in the tango neighborhood of San Telmo. Visit www.worldtangofestival.com.ar for more information and exact dates.

The world's biggest polo event, the Argentine Open Polo Championships, is held in the polo grounds in Palermo, near the Las Cañitas neighborhood, generally in late November, attracting moneyed crowds from around the world who get to mingle with visiting British royalty. Visit their website, www.aapolo.com.

The National Gay Pride parade is held in November, and can switch at the last minute from the first Saturday to the third Saturday of the month, so check Comunidad Homosexual de Argentina's website, at www.cha.org.ar, for updated information.

Some big regional parties include Octoberfest, in Villa Belgrano, Córdoba, every second weekend of October and Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival every first weekend in March.

Though Argentina has little in the way of Christmas ritual, midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), at the Metropolitan Cathedral, is a beautiful spectacle. It is usually held at 10pm on December 24.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.