Chile’s largest and most established popular music event, the Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar, is poised to get even bigger this year with a potential broadcast audience of 100 million people throughout Latin America.
Cable network A&E will broadcast the six days of the concert, which runs from Feb. 21-26, live to 32 million homes in 19 countries. Other major networks throughout the region will also run special coverage of the event, among them important networks in Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, as well as Argentina’s Telefé and Mexico’s TV Aztecas, which alone can reach as many as 60 million spectators.
The first official music festival in Viña de Mar was held in 1960 for a total of five days. This modest first incarnation had only three security guards and included popular local music acts. The first year’s festivities experienced such enormous success that the following year the municipality constructed a wooden amphitheater to house the event, which subsequently became annual. Remodelled in 1964, the structure continued to house the concert for nearly 40 years until the municipality built the five-story stadium where it’s held today, a testament to Chile’s importance as a destination for international music.
Last year’s event was cut short by Chile’s February earthquake, which stopped broadcasting and precipitated the cancellation of the festival’s final day. In the wake of last year’s unfortunate timing, concert organizers have aimed to outdo themselves this year with programming that includes some of the most popular performers in the Americas.
Among those present for the festival will be Puerto Rican singer Chayanne, Mexican singer Yuri and Puerto Rican band Calle 13. The beloved Chilean musicians Los Jaivas, best known for integrating indigenous sounds into their progressive rock, will perform on the concert’s penultimate night, sharing the stage with international superstar Sting, who will play the festival as part of his Symphonicity tour.
With this potential audience and impressive line up of international performers, the festival aims to be, as its website says, “the most important musical event in Hispano-America.”