Raising the curtain

Chile, the world’s stage

The Andean nation’s largest arts festival Santiago a Mil brings performers from across the world to the country for two weeks of top-quality theater, dance and music.

Friday, January 03, 2014  
The “Aeroflorale II” flying machine is one of many events planned for January’s Santiago a Mil arts The “Aeroflorale II” flying machine is one of many events planned for January’s Santiago a Mil arts festival. Photo by William Helsen / Flickr



The world’s leading theater companies and performers will be treading the boards in Santiago and beyond for two and a half weeks this January as the country’s largest arts festival — and arguably one of the premier events on the Latin American cultural calendar — returns for its 21st installment.

Diversity and breadth seem to define the 2014 edition of Santiago a Mil. Spectators can take in everything from productions of Shakespeare, to an interpretation of Gulliver’s Travels using puppets, to the “landing” of a Da Vinci-esque “flying machine” in the capital.

Dozens of theater companies from 19 countries will perform between Jan. 3 - 19 as part of the non-profit event which also features masterclasses, talks and a series of concerts.

Although based in Santiago, this year’s event will also see much of the program showing in the  Arica, Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Valparaíso, O’Higgins and BíoBío regions, part of the organizer’s drive to decentralize Chile’s cultural celebrations.

Since its inception in 1994, Santiago a Mil has grown to become the most important event in the country’s thriving theater and arts scene. Honoring its history, this year’s festival will feature retrospectives of some of the acclaimed theater companies that were with Santiago a Mil for its debut two decades previously. One of these, Viajeinmóvil, will present its renowned “Gulliver” show, an interpretation of the Jonathan Swift classic that utilizes puppets!

A plethora of street theater and art is also on the bill. One highlight is the arrival of an animated industrial garden at a secret location in the capital at some point during the festival’s showing. Eighteen meters tall and covered with hanging flora, propellers, fins and balloons, “Aeroflorale II,” looks like a Leonardo Da Vinci flying machine made real. The bizarre structure serves more than an aesthetic role, however, as, in the course of its travels to countries across the world, the machine functions as a botanical expedition, collecting plant samples with the aim of developing alternative sources of energy.

If you are exploring the streets of Santiago this month you may also come across another moving anomaly. A four meter-tall contraption will ride around the city’s cycle path serenading commuters as part of Spanish company Factoría Circular’s “Rodafonio” performance piece.

This year’s event also features a series of concerts taking place at the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center under the banner of Tocatas a Mil.

In keeping with the festival’s stated purpose of expanding access to the arts, prices for shows are low and almost 50 events are free of charge.

For the full program or to purchase tickets for any of the events, visit the Santiago a Mil website.