The Chilean music event that is best known abroad is without doubt the Viña del Mar Festival, which features world-renowned artists in February. But several weeks earlier, every year a small town in the Valparaiso Region holds an event for local folk music, ideal for getting to know Chile’s traditional rhythms and sounds: the Olmué Huaso Festival.
This popular celebration was held for the first time in 1970 to draw together the different rural cultural traditions of the country’s central region, such as the national dance “cueca”, or the paya, a kind of rhyming duel, and competition on horseback. However, the show is currently centered on music, in addition to a few humor and dance presentations. Meanwhile, folk music has been opened to expressions from all over the country.
In 2010 the Huaso Festival will hold its 41st edition, in addition to commemorating a very important date for Chile: the Bicentennial, when the country completes 200 years of independence.
This is why a special celebration is expected this year, with homage paid to the country’s two greatest folk singers: Violeta Parra, author of the famous song “Gracias a la Vida,” made popular the world over by Joan Baez, and Victor Jara, a renowned protest singer-songwriter who was murdered during the Augusto Pinochet government, in addition to Francisco Nicanor Molinare, Flores del Campo and Jaime Atria. The event will also provide a window for new Chilean folk artists, such as Manuel Garcia and Camila Moreno.
Festival del Huaso 2010
But not everything will be folklore. Representatives of the country’s pop music will also perform, such as the Sonora Tommy Rey, whose cumbia music livens up practically all Chilean celebrations, or the singer Zalo Reyes. Another of the major cards on the table will be the Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquín Sabina. As is the case every year, the event will be broadcast on Chilean television via the Chilevisión network.
The festival will be held on 22-24 January in the “El Patahual” park in Olmué, which can be reached from Santiago via Highway 5 North and then via the road to Til Til. The trip takes close to approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes. It can also be reached from Viña del Mar in 35 minutes via the Troncal Sur highway that passes through Limache.
Tickets to the artistic event are on sale via Punto Ticket and prices range from US$ 15.8 to US$ 73.
But not everything is music in Olmué, whose pleasant Mediterranean climate and rural tradition make it an attractive destination. One of most visited places in the area is the La Campana National Park, located just one kilometer from the town. The area offers one of the most representative natural landscapes in the country’s central region and Coastal Mountain Range, in addition to being home to the very last forests of Chilean palm trees.
But that is not all. The area is also famous because the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited it in 1834 and it was declared a UN World Biosphere Reserve in 1984. The companies Chile Ruta Natural and Ruta Verde offer diverse sustainable tourism activities in La Campana and the areas around Olmué, including horseback rides, trekking, mountain climbing, and observation of the fauna in the area.
As far as the town of Olmué is concerned, it offers a great variety of Chilean rural traditions, such as rodeos, handicrafts in wicker, metals, wood and embroidering, in addition to the local gastronomy like traditional empanadas, delicious alfajores and of course wine. For more information on the tourist activities on offer in the area, the websites www.olmue.cl and www.olmueturistico.cl are available.