Food, Clothing and Chaos at the Peñalolén Fair

If you feel stuck in a tourist bubble in Santiago, remember that this massive city offers far more to see than downtown’s European-style architecture, rows of restaurants and nearby hills. Escape that trap any Saturday morning and head to Peñalolén to experience the hustle and bustle of the community’s mammoth fair.

Photo by José Miguel Vives
Photo by José Miguel Vives

Starting at 10 in the morning, Avenida Grecia hosts a mix between a farmer’s market, flea market, yard sale and pure chaos. There’s a little bit of everything to discover: cheap produce and fish, jackets, ‘80s clothing, yarn, bicycle baskets, phone chargers, knock-off Colo-Colo jerseys, silverware, marionettes -- it’s all there. Name the most obscure item and you can be sure to find it within the semi-organized chaos. The vendors extend throughout the neighborhood, forming an endless labyrinth of, to put it simply, stuff.

Photo by José Miguel Vives
Photo by José Miguel Vives

In this commotion is where the residents of the Peñalolén neighborhood purchase the necessities of life. Although several of these ferias can be found throughout Santiago, many municipalities have tight restrictions over the local fair, going as far as banning street vendors from the area.

But not in Peñalolén. Here the pathways between the tents and tarps flood with shoppers. Vendors sell empanadas, ceviche, french fries, sopaipillas (a fried pastry) and more at the food carts and stands. The smells of dirt, masses of people and papas fritas overwhelm the senses.

Photo by José Miguel Vives
Photo by José Miguel Vives

A visitor cannot be anything but content walking amongst the fruit and vegetable stands, following the flow of the crowd, munching on a 100-peso slice of pineapple, and observing the familial vibe of the Grecia fair. It’s a weekly event that clearly draws together the whole neighborhood, and Saturday must be synonymous with the fair for every Chilean in the area.

To experience this authentic, local side of Santiago, take the Metro Line 5 to the Grecia station and ask your local Peñalolén resident to point you in the direction of the fair.

Feria Peñalolén
Saturday mornings
Av. Grecia, Peñalolén
Metro: Grecia

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