Popular Festivals in Chile

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International Song Festival Vina del Mar
International Song Festival Vina del Mar

Any number of festivals and cultural celebrations take place in Chile year-round, and some of the most well-known and exciting of those draw visitors not only from around the country but from around the world. Festivals are a vibrant part of Chilean life, from historical to religious, gastronomic to cultural. Here are some of the most popular traditional celebrations. Here is a list to highlight the popular festivals in Chile.

Festival Internacional de la Canción (International Song Festival)

Location: Viña del Mar, Valparaiso Region, Chile
Festival Type: Music
Month: February
Description: The Viña del Mar International Song Festival is one of the prominent music festivals in Chile, held annually during February since 1960 in Viña del Mar, Chile. It is considered the most important musical event in Latin America.

The Festival features a song competition in two main categories (pop music and folk song). The competitions are interspersed with live performances by international music stars from around the world, encompassing such diverse genres as rock, pop music in various languages.

Fiesta Tapati on Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Location: Easter Island, Valparaiso Region, Chile
Festival Type: Culture
Month: February
Description: On the mystical Easter Island, a queen is chosen for the festival from amongst the young people, who compete for the honor in swimming and canoeing competitions using small boats and rafts made of totora reeds. The teams prepare traditional costumes, songs and dances, and share the stories of myths and legends through storytelling.

Body painting, called Takona, is the festival’s primary activity, where the islanders paint their bodies with symbols of their mythic origins using natural pigments. The Haka Pei competition which requires alot of physical skill is when the most daring young men hurl themselves at great speed down a mountain, tobogganing over banana tree trunks.

Chilean Grape Harvest (Vendimia Festivals)

Location: Central Regions
Festival Type: Wine
Month: March/April
Description: A Grape Harvest Festival in central Chile is typically celebrated by the crushing of grapes barefoot to celebrate the wonder of Chilean wine. The wine harvest festival draws thousands of people from all over and features many of the local wineries, a gastronomical exhibition, handcrafted artifacts by local artisans and live entertainment.

Taking place over several days, no vendimia would be complete without the election for the Queen of the Vendimia, followed by a barbeque, dancing ‘la cueca’– Chile’s traditional dance.

National Rodeo Championships

Location: Rancagua, O’Higgins Region, Chile
Festival Type: Rodeo, Traditional, National
Month: April
Description: When it comes to rodeo events in Chile, Rancagua’s Annual Campeonato Nacional de Rodeo is the premier event. In 1962 rodeo was declared the country’s national sport surpassing football as the most popular sporting event.

Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de La Tirana

Location: La Tirana, Tarapacá Region, Chile
Festival Type: Religious, Traditional, Street Parade
Month: July
Description: This celebration takes place on July 16 to celebrate the Virgin of Carmel, Chile’s patron saint. La Tirana is the biggest geographically localized religious festivity in Chile and attracts between 200,000 and 250,000 visitors during the week of celebrations, while the villages population is normally of 560 inhabitants.

Santiago International Film Festival

Location: Santiago, Chile
Festival Type: Film
Month: August
Website: www.sanfic.com
Description: The Santiago International Film Festival has turned Chile into a respected platform to showcase world cinema.

SANFIC, Chile’s International Film Festival, kicks off every August in Santiago with movies showcased at several theaters in the capital city along with a line-up of star actors and directors.

Fixion Sars – Santiago Fantastic and Horror Film Festival

Location: Santiago, Chile
Festival Type: Film
Month: October
Description: Santiago’s Fantastic and Horror Film Festival, has been bringing horror to the Chilean capital since 2007. Cinemark Plaza Vespucio and the Cineteca Nacional screens scary movies for nearly a week. For lovers of horror movies, this will certainly give you the fix you need.

Arica Nativa International Film Festival

Location: Arica, Arica Region, Chile
Festival Type: Film, Film – Documentary
Month: October
Website: http://aricanativa.cl
Description: The Arica Nativa International Film Festival welcomes films of any format and length that focus on rural life, such as indigenous communities and the preservation of traditional culture. Screenings take place in venues throughout the city of Arica.

Birds of Chile Festival

Location: Viña del Mar, Valparaiso Region, Chile
Festival Type: Birding, Family, Animal
Month: October
Website: www.festivaldeaves.cl/prontus_aves/site/edic/base/port/inicio.html
Website: www.aconcaguabirding.com/
Description: The annual Birds of Chile Festival is held in Viña del Mar for families and bird-lovers as much as for ornithologists and bird-watchers. Talks by professionals, educational workshops and excursions to diverse habitats and ecosystems nearby are on the agenda.

Santiago International Short Film Festival

Location: Santiago, Chile
Festival Type: Film – Short, Films
Month: October
Website: http://fesancor.cl/
Description: Over the past 2 decades, the Santiago International Short Film Festival has become one of the most important festivals in Latin America, This festival has received over 18,000 films of which about 2,500 have been exhibited. Additionally, 380,000 spectators have flocked to theaters and 7 million of them by other means, thus setting an important showcase of short films on five continents.

Snickers Urbania

Location: Santiago, Chile
Festival Type: Sport – Street, Sport – Extreme
Month: October
Website: www.snickersurbania.cl/
Description: Skateboarders and BMX bikers shoot the breeze on the ground and perform eye-popping stunts in the air at Snickers Urbania. Video-game contests, tattoo artists, breakdancers and DJ’s create an exciting street-influenced event.

Valdivia International Film Festival

Location: Valdivia, Los Rios Region, Chile
Festival Type: Film
Month: October
Website: www.f17.ficv.cl/index.php
Description: The Valdivia International Film Festival started as a very successful international film exhibition released in 1993 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Cine Club of the Universidad Austral de Chile. A competition was included the following year, labeled as “Valdivia Cine & Video”. That event became a milestone to cultural activity in southern Chile, promising at that time to become the greatest film event in the country.

Our Lady of Lo Vásquez

Location: Lo Vásquez, Chile & celebrated throughout Chile
Festival Type: Religious, Traditional
Month: December
Description: Held every year on December 8 to celebrate the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception. This is the most heavily attended religious festival in the country bringing together more than a million people. Hundreds of thousands of Chilean Catholics travel to sanctuaries devoted to the Virgin Maryall over the country, and most especially to the Lo Vásquez temple located in the municipality of Casablanca, on the route between Santiago and Valparaíso.

From both the capital and the central coast, thousands of pilgrims set off for the sanctuary, on foot, bicycle and some even on their knees, to ask for or repay a “manda” or favor granted by the Virgin.