Fiestas patrias 2012: a guide to Chilean Independence Day

In the second of this two-part travel series we look at some of the many different celebrations across Chile on its national day – and a few more days of parties as well.

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 began by taking a look at fiestas patrias celebrations in Santiago, now we’re turning our attention to some of the many fondas around the nation.

La Pampilla – Coquimbo Region and the Far North

A stretch of desert just south of the city of Coquimbo on the shores of the Pacific holds the largest annual fiestas patrias celebration in Chile: “La Pampilla.”

Running until September 20 this arid piece of land is transformed as hundreds of thousands came to set up camp every year, amid the fondas, rides and stalls. For more information, click here.

Litoral Central, Valparaíso Region

Along with the Coquimbo Region, the celebrations of the Litoral Central – the stretch of coast from Papudo to Santo Domingo in the Valparaíso Region of Chile – draws the largest September crowds.

The biggest event is the “Gran Fiesta Criolla” in the historic Valparaíso Sporting Club, a thoroughbred racetrack in the city of Viña del Mar, which runs from September 14–19.

Another fonda that celebrates the rural traditions of the region is the “Gran Ramada la Mansa Jarra” in the heritage town of Olmué, which is home to the annual Festival del Huaso. If you want a fiesta by the Pacific head to the “Fonda Maitencillo.”

Heading South, Rancagua and Temuco

To really experience huaso culture the best option is to look south of Santiago toward the O’Higgins, Maule and Bío Bío regions.

For rodeos, huasos, and rural folklore, head to Rancagua, home of the annual national rodeo championship, and be sure to check out the “Fonda Carranza,” which runs from September 16–18.

If you’re interested in Chile’s indigenous Mapuche culture, the best idea is to head further south to Temuco, capital of the Araucanía Region.

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.