Indigenous groups converge on Chile for unique festival

San Juan de la Costa to host lively culture event featuring groups from across Latin America.

The picturesque community of San Juan de la Costa is about to be taken over by music, dancing and food as the area gets ready a unique indigenous festival featuring groups from all over South America.

Located just outside of the southern Chilean city of Osorno, San Juan de la Costa is home to the largest population of native Williche-Mapuche whose people are known for their strong relationship to nature—particularly the sea. Around 90 percent of the area’s roughly eight thousand people identify as Williche.  The various music, dance, and culture groups within San Juan de la Costa are now preparing to welcome indigenous groups from all over the continent and tourists for two days of cultural exchange and celebration.

“Everyone has been waiting for over a year for this event,” communications and cultural director for the municipality, Diego Gerter, told This is Chile. “We are all very excited to welcome these organizations and peoples from other cultures and countries and to share their own traditions.”

For two days, February 14 and 15, the stunning Maicolpue beach will host dance performances and musical acts as well as informational areas and of course delicious traditional foods.

Among the many who will be in attendance are Tradiciones de Venezuela, a popular dance and music troupe representing the traditions of Venezuela’s indigenous peoples who have performed across the world. There will also be a performance of the traditional Mare Mare dance, part of the Kariña culture native to the north of the continent.

“La Danza de las Tijeras”, a dance symbolic of a community indigenous to Peru is also scheduled for the festival as well as raft of other performances representative of the many varied peoples from across Peru and Northern Chile.

San Juan de la Costa will of course be showcasing its own Williche traditions throughout the festival. A highlight will be performances by Aucalafquén, a folkloric group that mixes the fascinating williche mythology and history and music and dance to share the local culture.

San Juan de la Costa is a 30 minute drive from the city of Osorno, with buses running regularly from the Feria Rahue station. Be sure to reserve a room in advance if you are looking to stay in the seaside community, or plan to stay in Osorno where there are many great overnight options.