The San Telmo Fair is an outdoor weekly antiques and crafts fair where visitors can purchase antiques, original artwork and homemade crafts.
Since it’s founding in 1970 the fair, once centered around Plaza Dorrego in the heart of San Telmo, has become so popular that it stretches 13 city blocks.
→ Check out our Argentina Gift Buying Guide to find out some unique and typical Argentine gifts.
Art and Antiques in San Telmo
To get one of the 270 official stalls at the San Telmo Antiques Fair is a mythical prospect these days — there is a long waiting list, a rigorous approval process and someone pretty much has to die for a spot to become available.
Many of the vendors at the San Telmo Fair have held onto their spots in the market since its 1971 inception.
The heart of the street fair, Plaza Dorrego, is famed for the antiques. There remain treasures from Buenos Aires’ golden days to be uncovered, serving as a reminder that Argentina was one of the world’s wealthiest countries only a century ago.
Shoppers will probably have to search a while to find bargained-priced antiquities. If prices are given in dollars or Euro’s, that’s your clue that the seller has done their research.
To do some virtual window-shopping of the antiques available, see the Feria de San Telmo website where you can see pictures of every vendor’s items.
Original Works of Art
Among the best deals to be had around the San Telmo Sunday Fair are original artworks. Unknown but talented artists — especially those who refuse to specialize in the ubiquitous tango scenes — are sometimes so eager to get their work on your walls that they practically give it away.
One art visitors will see a lot of is fileteado, an Argentine decorative art which often employs funny sayings, which often employ the Argentine slang, lunfardo. They are a popular souvenir to pick up at the San Telmo Fair, but buyers should beware that the talent of the artists varies greatly. There is some bad mass-produced fileteado and high-end original works by known artists such as Alfredo Genovese.
Be aware that to remove any piece of fine art purchased in Argentina the law requires that you get permission from the Culture Department or else you may find that you cannot get it through customs on your way home.
Many travelers do not follow the requirements and get through customs just fine, but you will want to ask the artist about this and be aware that if you don’t follow the steps you may not be able to take the art out of the country.
Read this post to learn more about exporting art:
Homemade crafts and hippie stuff
Artisanal items are sold by San Telmo street hawkers that spread out from Plaza Dorrego shouldn’t be overlooked if looking for a unique handmade gift. Strolling San Telmo visitors any Sunday will find candles, jewelry, gaucho-style knives, knitted items, incense and glassware.
Since many of these informal sellers don’t have ‘official’ stalls in the market, but place their wares on the sidewalks on the outskirts, their overhead is low and their prices tend to be more than reasonable.
→ Make sure to stick around for San Telmo’s largest outdoor Tango Milonga, that takes place in the plaza after the San Telmo Fair shuts down after dusk.
→ Another Sunday outing that shouldn’t be missed is a visit to the Feria de Mataderos, a gaucho market on the outskirts of town.