Chile’s ‘most important culture festival’ descends from above

Thousands of cheering Santiaguinos were led through the streets to the presidential palace La Moneda in a carnival-like procession of street-theatre and music, for the opening night of the month-long theatre, music and dance festival.

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It was an evening of the unexpected across Santiago’s downtown last night as the Santiago a Mil Festival kicked off with a bang. Troupes of brightly-clad performers whipped through crowds of people to lead a wayward procession right through the centre of town, culminating in a gigantic show opposite La Moneda, the presidential palace.

The colorful acts appeared from street corners, nearby windows overlooking the passing crowds and last of all, dangling from a giant coathanger-like structure suspended from a crane high above the buildings.

After they had gathered at 8pm in Santiago downtown’s Plaza de Armas, a cheering crowd stormed through the back streets behind a moving platform covered by guitar-touting skeletons doing backflips from a giant seesaw; 25 foot high opera-singing marionettes with skirts the diameter of two cars; and gangs of futuristic drummers who leads chants and lines of smiling revelers.

Last night’s opening performance – organized by Transe Express, an 80´s French dance company known for whipping up big street parties – was the first of a line of acts performing throughout January for the Santiago a Mil Festival, described by the Chilean media as ‘Chile’s most important culture festival.’

The acts to come will range from classical music concerts to interactive street-theatre, world music, traditional Chilean Mapuche performances and Australian ska orchestras.

A total of 75 of the events are completely free, and the rest are accessibly priced: from CP$4,000-6,000 (US$8-12) for national dance and emerging theatre shows, and CP$10,000 (US$20) for internationally selected productions at Santiago’s theatres.

For more information about the events at Santiago a Mil Festival visit the events page of its website, and for information about the venues and how to buy tickets, visit the information section.