Fondas in the capital

Fiestas patrias 2012: a guide to Chilean Independence Day

In the first of a two part travel series we look at where to go in Santiago as Chile celebrates its  national day - and throws in a few more days to party as well. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012 Category: Tourism - Culture
Dancers celebrate Chilenidad in Santiago at last year’s fiestas patrias. Photo: Francisco Osorio Dancers celebrate Chilenidad in Santiago at last year’s fiestas patrias. Photo: Francisco Osorio

When it comes to Independence Day celebrations, Chile certainly knows how to throw a party.

In fact, the fiestas patrias celebrations actually last two days - September, 18 and 19 - and because they fall on a Tuesday and Wednesday this year, the country decided to declare September 17 a public holiday as well.

The result: five days of national celebrations, beginning on Saturday, September 15 and running until Wednesday, September 19 (at a minimum).

But with the whole country in celebration mode, the amount of fondas - places to dance, drink, dine and party like a Chilean - can be a little overwhelming. So here at we’ve come up with a list of some highlights to get you started.

We begin by taking a look at fiestas patrias celebrations in Santiago, but stay tuned for a country wide wrap-up tomorrow.

Traditional celebrations

An essential concept of the fiestas patrias is a celebration of chilenidad: all things Chilean.

If you want to dance Chile’s national dance, cueca, or drink chicha with the horse-riding, poncho-wearing huasos, then head to Parque Alberto Hurtado in La Reina. From September 7–19, the park is the place to see horse riding and rodeos, and will be full of stores selling rural Chilean products and tradition food and drink. For more information, click here.

An alternative a little further out of town will be the “Semana de la Chilenidad” at the Maipú Municipal Pool. Along with traditional food, games and dancing, the fonda will host bands like folk legends IntiIllimani Histórico, Quilapayún and Jorge Yáñez, along with Los Vásquez and Manuel García, among others. The event runs from this Friday until next Wednesday. For more information, click here.

Chilean rock

Latino rock icons Los Tres will be back to host another installment of their very own fonda in 2012, with the return of “La Yein Fonda.”

Founded in 1996, the fonda has become an institution of September celebrations in Santiago, and not only offers visitors a chance to see one of Chile’s most famous rock bands in action, but also cueca outfits like Los Tricolores and high energy cumbia groups like Los Vikings 5.

Parque Quinta Normal will once again be the location of “La Yein Fonda,” which runs from Monday, September 16 until Wednesday, September 17. For more information, head to the official website.

Cumbia Chilena

It’s not only rock bands that are taking fondas in new directions. Chile’s beloved cumbia band, Chico Trujillo, also lays claim to a fonda: “¡Zapateando con el Chico!”

At the Chimkowe de Peñalolén gym on September 16, 17, and 18, the high octane, hawaiin-shirt wearing band will be joined by the likes of Banda Conmoción and La Sonora de Tommy Rey. For more, head to the band’s website.

Vegetarian Fondas

Ok, so let’s be honest, with all the asados and parrillas (Chilean barbeques), choripáns and empanadas of the fiestas patrias, September is not a great time for vegetarians in Chile.

But Santiago is diverse enough that everyone in covered. In fact, at least two fondas this year will be devoted entirely to vegetarians.

For those who are looking for something green in their meals this September, or are after a more alternative scene, check out the “Puro Verde: la Picá Vegetariana” in Barrio Yungay, which promises theater, music, vegetarian takes on traditional Chilean food, and “surprises”. The “Fonda Vegana, El Huaso Vegetariano” in neighboring Barrio Brasil is also an options. Both events are taking place on September 18 and 19.

We’ve only scratched the surface on what is on offer these fiestas patrias in Santiago. If you have more suggestions, or to see what our online community of over 100,000 fans has to recommend, head to our Facebook page.