Traditional parties and music for the final days of Chile’s Bicentennial

Food, drink, dance and games will dominate city centers across the country in the last week before Independence Day. Below a sampling of events for September 13-16, to be followed by a selection of not to miss parties for the weekend of Fiestas Patrias.


September 10-20: The XVI annual Semana de la Chilenidad in the pastoral east Santiago neighborhood of La Reina continues this week in Parque Alberto Hurtado at the base of the Andes foothills. Beginning with breakfast each morning from 7:30-10am, and continuing well into the night (events close between 9:30 and midnight each night), the festivities include areas dedicated to agriculture and gastronomy, performances of traditional music and dance, cueca classes, fireworks, and rodeos. Though festivities began last Friday, a majority of the events will take place in the course of this week.

September 15: Cerro Santa Lucía, central Santiago’s most distinctive park, will host activities planned by Conadi, the National Corporation for Indigenous Development. Events for the promotion and celebration of Chile’s indigenous communities will fill the park beginning at noon, and will allow visitors to admire the installation of traditional Mapuche sculptures, called ‘chemamul’. These pre-Columbian wooden sculptures are massive, stylized human figures native to the Araucanía in the south, where the Mapuche people still maintain their largest communities. These sculptures, unveiled to the public today, will become a permanent fixture along the terraced paths of Cerro Santa Lucía.

September 16:  Frutillar, a scenic German town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue in Chile’s famed Lakes Region, is also home to one of the region’s most important cultural institutions: Fundación Teatro del Lago. Founded in 1968 for a summer music festival, the Foundation began building a permanent home for itself in 1998, proceeding according to the availability of privately donated funds. The Teatro del Lago is built of local materials with spectacular views to the Osorno Volcano across the lake. Partially completed by 2005 and open for events since then, the facility will open the doors to its primary concert hall in November. Tonight’s event focuses on Chile’s National rock movement in the 1960s, particularly the work of Los Vidrios Quebrados. At 6:30, vocalist from Los Vidrios Quebrados Juan Mateo O’Brien will give a talk on the history of the movement. The talk will be followed by a concert at 8pm featuring Mr. O’Brien accompanied by the current Chilean rock group Matorral performing the entirety of Los Vidrios Querbrados’ most famous album “Fictions.” In the midst of a season dedicated primarily to Chile’s more traditional musical forms, this event will expose audiences to another side of Chile’s rich musical culture.

September 16: The first night of the long holiday weekend, Thursday evening will see the official openings of fondas and ramadas—traditional outdoor parties for the independence celebrations—in many cities around Chile. Santiago’s largest fonda will begin at 8pm in Parque O’Higgins, as will the primary fonda of Copiapó in the Atacama region. Fondas will begin in smaller cities and towns throughout the day, including locations in the south like Linares, Puerto Aysén, Temuco and others. These kickoffs mark the beginning of the country’s largest festivities throughout the weekend.

September 16-21: At 9:30 on Thursday night, and at 8:30pm from Friday through Tuesday, the French team of projection artists Les Petits Francais will illuminate the façade of Palacio La Moneda facing Plaza de la Ciudadanía in a new display titled “Pura energía, puro Chile,” one of the Bicentennial’s most eagerly awaited events. To coincide with the event in Santiago, four municipalities across Chile—Antofagasta and La Serena in the north, Concepción near the center, and Punta Arenas in the far south—will each illuminate a historic building. These buildings will become the backdrop for performances by musical groups preceding a video transmission of the event in Santiago. The regional illuminations will take place on Thursday night, with the first musical acts scheduled to begin at 8:30pm, followed by the illumination of the building and second musical performance at 9pm, and the screening of Santiago’s event at 10pm.