Seasons & climate

At the very foot of the Americas, Patagonia has a wild and varied climate. In general it is cold in winter, cool in spring and autumn and warm in summer, but it is not as simple as that. The Patagonian summer, from December to February, comes with up to 17 hours of daylight and temperatures in the high 20s, but often accompanied by its famous westerly winds, which average around 20kph throughout the season and blow much stronger from time to time. The spring, from September to November, usually has less wind and highs of around 15 degrees, but can often bring heavy rain. The autumn, from March to May brings the possibility of rain at the start and snow towards the end, but it can be a photographer’s dream with stunning autumn colours in the region’s national parks. Finally the winters, though potentially fierce, showcase the incredible landscapes covered in snow and ice, producing utterly stunning wilderness for those adventurous enough to brave the elements. It is important to remember that Patagonian weather is extremely changeable – and that whatever time of year you visit you must be prepared for all conditions.

For those visiting Patagonia in the south, October and November offer clear skies and fewer crowds than the peak months of December and January.

Chile_Punta Arenasweather-chart

Month-by-month

December and January in Patagonia is peak summer and peak season, meaning you can expect the best weather and the biggest crowds. If you plan on trekking in the Torres del Paine book it early – the refugios and campsites fill up months in advance. February is a little quieter as the Chilean holidays end and the weather is at its best.

In March the weather starts to turn and the winds die down. Avoid the Argentine and Chilean Lake Districts around this time, unless you really enjoy getting wet, and instead try and take advantage of end-of-season deals in the National Parks.

April marks ski season in Patagonia, the most famous resort being Bariloche in Argentina. It is not just for adrenaline-junkies however; head here to marvel at the mountain town’s alpine architecture and indulge in its famous chocolate shops. As the winter continues, many trails and refugios in the southern parks close, but whale watching season around the Valdes Peninsula gets into full swing, running from June-November.

July and August - the middle of winter - are a fantastic time to see the Los Glaciares National Park at its most dynamic, despite the short days, and parts of Lake Argentino freeze over to become a natural skating rink. As the snow begins to melt in September, animals begin to return to the lower reaches of the National Parks across Patagonia, making the Southern Hemisphere spring a wonderful time for wildlife spotting before the summer season starts again in October.

Festivals and Events

Patagonia may be sparsely populated, but in true Latin American style it knows how to hold a fiesta and to celebrate its unique heritage. If you want to learn about gaucho culture, in January in Junín de los Andes there is the Feria y Exposición Ganadera, a festival showcasing the local farmer’s livestock with exhibitions of horsemanship. Alternatively Zapala hosts their Feria de la Tradición, a similar event with gaucho horse demonstrations, folk music and local crafts markets.

It isn’t all horses and cattle. Patagonia also has a culinary scene worth celebrating, with much of it centred around San Carlos de Bariloche. In February they hold El Lúpulo al Palo, a hop festival celebrating local beer; October holds the town’s annual week-long food festival, Bariloche a la carta, but it is Easter when Bariloche’s real culinary speciality gets its showcase, with the Festival Nacional del Chocolate, which needs no translation.

If you are braving the long nights of winter, Patagonians traditionally celebrate the winter solstice on 21 June with a festival. One of the most notable events is held at Ushuia, with its Festival Nacional de la Noche Más Larga, culminating in a huge public bonfire called a Fuego de los Deseos – a fire of desires – where locals write down the names of things blocking them from reaching their goals and symbolically burn them to ash.

Explore Patagonia

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