Fiestas Patrias 2013: a guide to fondas in Chile’s capital

It’s that time of year again, and the celebrations are kicking off all over the country to celebrate independence day.

As the middle of September approaches and winter starts to fade, Chilean flags and tricolors are even more prevalent than the signs of spring. With Chile’s independence day, Sept. 18, rapidly approaching and the week’s festivities already kicking off, This is Chile takes a look at the best traditional parties to enjoy empanadas, drink some chicha and dance cueca.

Those parties, called fondas, take place all across the country and are the best places to take in all things Chilean as the country celebrates its 203rd year of independence from Spain. Though the 18th is the official independence day, it is followed by another national holiday on the 19th celebrating the Army and the two — combined with celebrations that began with a national religious ceremony Sunday in Santiago — make up what are known as fiestas patrias or simply el dieciocho, the Spanish word “eighteen.”

The fondas are large, outdoor parties where traditional food and drink are available and Chilean music is played — especially the folk dance cueca, which is often performed by dancers in traditional huaso dress and is meant to emulate the flirting of a rooster and a hen.

While fondas will pop up in every city and town in the country, and some of the best are to be found in places where traditional huaso culture is still strong, here is a short list of the best in Santiago for those who are looking to stay in the capital:

Le Yein Fonda

The city of Santiago’s official fonda, which will take place in the city’s Parque O’Higgins, will feature the classic Chilean acts Los Tres and Quilapayún, as well as a slew of other musical acts. It kicks off Tuesday and will last until Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting until 4 a.m. every day.

The fonda has an entrance fee of CLP 8,000 (US$16) and tickets can be purchased online in advance. Tickets at the gate will cost CLP 10,000 (US$20)

La Fonda de Uno

This fonda, organized by the Santiago radio station Radio Uno, will be held at the Matucana 100 cultural center and promises some of the best in Chilean rock for the holiday week. The Fonda de Uno will run from Wednesday through Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. each day.

It will feature music by Los Bunkers, as well as shows from Javiera and Ángel Parra. Tickets are CLP 12,000 (US$24) at the gate, and can be purchased online.

La semana de la Chilenidad

This fonda, organized as a municipal event organized by the Santiago suburbs of Las Condes, Vitacura and La Reina, will take place in a park the three share — Parque Padre Hurtado. Kicking off with country-style breakfasts at 7:30 a.m. every morning through Sunday, it promises a sampling of rural Chilean culture in the city, complete with everything from rodeos to horse shows and cueca competitions.

Tickets are CLP 4000 (US$8) for adults, but admission is free some days before noon. Check the event’s website for more details.