Theater, Cinema, Art and more: A Culture Guide to Buenos Aires

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Known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is an exciting, historically rich, and active city with loads to offer the culture-hungry traveler. Here are a few sites you cannot miss out on while vacationing in Argentina’s capital.

Opera and Ballet: Teatro Colon

Teatro Colon

Teatro Colon is a renowned opera house located in the city center. It offers an array of opera, orchestra, and ballet shows for a moderate price. Tours of the amazing and newly renovated structure are also available. In addition, it houses a venue putting on outstanding contemporary theater productions. To view full schedule and buy tickets, visit the Teatro Colon Web site.

You cannot possibly visit Buenos Aires without making a trip here. Events are held starting in March and go until the end of the year. There are virtually no productions in January and February.

Theater: Teatro San Martin

Teatro San Martin

There are more than a hundred theater venues throughout the city, but I would recommend Teatro San Martin for consistently great quality. The greatest actors, from Alfredo Alcón to Ricardo Darín have starred in plays here, and the production values are extremely high and as good as anywhere in New York. An intermediate level of Spanish is definitely suggested, but following along with the gestures and picking up on atmosphere and tone can be enough to give you a satisfying night at the theater.

The complex also offers music, photography exhibits, and dance recitals – all of which are also worth a visit. A lovely café on the ground floor makes for a nice place to kill time before a show or a post-event hang out to discuss what you’ve just seen. However, all around the theater are endless porteño-style café-bars where you can get a drink or a bite to eat.

You can view all of the theater’s current and upcoming productions on the Teatro San Martin Web site. For all Buenos Aires theater listings, buy any of the national newspapers.

Film Festivals: BAFICI

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Buenos Aires loves cinema and it offers quite a great selection of it. There’s an array of theaters to be found, from art house to commercial, all of which list their show times in the national newspapers. In addition, however, the city hosts several film festivals. The best of these is the BAFICI, the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival. It usually takes place in April and screens hundreds of films in different locations throughout the city. Invited directors and actors usually hold Q&As after the screenings, and special events, such as lectures and courses, are arranged.

The detailed BAFICI Web site lays out the daily events as well as film descriptions.

Recoleta neighborhood: Museo de Bellas Artes and Centro Cultural Recoleta

Museo de Bellas Artes and Centro Cultural Recoleta

There is great art to be found all across the city, but this neighborhood shines as the home of the fantastically free national art museum, Museo de Bellas Artes, as well as the contemporary art gallery Centro Cultural Recoleta. At the MNBA you will find outstanding paintings from great Argentine artists such as Xul Solar and Antonio Berni. The museum also has an extensive collection of European (including several Rodin sculptures) and South American art, and almost always has a temporary exhibit on display.

For more information, visit the museum’s Web site. It is closed on Mondays.

The CCR, just a few minutes walk away, displays several exhibits at once – all mostly by local artists. It also houses a venue for avant-garde performances such as the fabulous Fuerza Bruta. While in Recoleta, you must also visit the incredible mausoleum home to many famous Argentines, including Evita Peron. For more details on its various events, search the Centro Cultural Recoleta Web site.

La Boca neighborhood: Art, Color and Tango

La Boca neighborhood

This is a beautiful neighborhood to visit by day. It’s where you can find colorful houses, a street fair selling jewelry, leather items, silver items, and other goods; cheap or free tango shows; and a nice, relaxing view of the harbor. The famous Argentine soccer club Boca Juniors make their home here.

La Boca is also where you’ll find two of the city’s most important art museums. The first is the Museo de Bellas Artes de la Boca where Argentine artist Quinquela Martin’s great paintings (mostly of the harbor) are on view. The second is Fundación Proa, the new culture explosion displaying some of the best art exhibits, as well as screening films and holding lectures in its auditorium. It also houses a big and beautiful bookstore with tables and chairs and an upstairs café with terrace and a diverse, moderately priced food and drink menu.

Contemporary Art at the MALBA

Lastly, I’d like to mention the contemporary art museum the MALBA, located north of trendy neighborhood Palermo. It rivals New York’s MOMA in its sleek beauty and architectural elegance, and meanwhile offers a great permanent collection as well as interesting and well-curated temporary exhibitions.

In addition, it has a wonderful cinema screening three to five films daily from Thursday to Sunday. These include both classics and new films from international and Argentine filmmakers. Some weekends they have live music accompaniment as well as midnight showings. The museum also has a beautiful café-restaurant with an extensive menu and outdoor seating. The MALBA web site provides all the necessary information. It is closed on Tuesdays.

To make the most of your Buenos Aires visit, do not miss these incredible museums and venues. Have a wonderful trip!