Spring is in the air in Chile – along with rippling Chilean flags, traditional cueca music and the pungent smoke of thousands of barbecues. The Fiestas Patrias, Chile’s marathon independence celebrations, are upon us.
With the holiday weekend looming ahead, it seems as though people are fleeing Santiago as quickly as pisco and choripán sausages are flying off supermarket shelves. Don’t be fooled: The capital has plenty to offer in the way of festivities. A slew of fondas, or public Fiestas Patrias parties, promise to provide more than sufficient entertainment for those planning to stay put in the big city.
Below are just a few of the fiestas that will make you glad you braved the smog.
FONDA PARQUE INÉS DE SUÁREZ
The family-focused official fonda of Santiago’s Providencia borough promises traditional music, circus performances, an artisan fair and cueca competitions for dancers of all ages. Members of Chile’s Armed Forces will parade through the nearby Plaza Centenario (Pedro de Valdivia 963) starting at 10:00 on Friday.
When: September 17-21, 12 p.m.-12 a.m.
Where: Parque Inés de Suárez (Antonio Varas 1510), Providencia. A 20-to-30-minute walk south from Metro Manuel Montt.
How much: General admission - CP$2,000 (US$4). Kids and senior citizens - CP$500 (US$1).
Web site: www.providencia.cl
Santiago Centro’s Estación Mapocho will celebrate the Fiestas Patrias with festivities for a variety of tastes. Between 12 and 6 p.m., the cavernous former train station will host the Fonda Infantil, where kids can enjoy activities and performances.
The nighttime Fonda Bailable, however, will be far from child’s play. From 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., partygoers can boogie down to everything from traditional tunes to contemporary hits. Featured performers include La Noche (Wednesday and Friday), the legendary Los Jaivas (Thursday) and Juana Fe (Saturday).
Those looking to party in style can purchase a VIP wristband, which provides all-day access to a special area with waiter service.
When: September 17-20
Where: Estación Mapocho, Santiago Centro. Metro Puente Cal y Canto.
How much: Fonda Bailable - CP$6,000 (US$12). Fonda Infantil - CP$4,000 (US$8) for all guests over a meter tall. Fonda VIP - CP$10,000 (US$20). Tickets available at the door or through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.cl). The first 2,000 people to arrive each day, regardless of where they purchased their tickets, can each bring a friend for free.
Web site: www.granfondadesantiago.cl
Tradition reigns at the numerous fondas that are calling Santiago Centro’s massive Parque O’Higgins home this year. Viva Chile, the official fonda of the Municipality of Santiago, is just one of the parties where the grills will smoke, the chicha will flow and the cueca handkerchiefs will twirl. Other options include the Gran Fonda Iorana and the young-adult-oriented El Desplumado. Family-friendly La Grandiosa Bertita, which calls itself “The Official People’s Fonda,” will feature traditional dances from across Chile, including Easter Island.
Not everything is folkloric at Parque O’Higgins. Children can play at a miniature amusement park, while grown-ups can hit the dance floor – or watch pole dancing – at night.
The party kicks off at around 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
When: September 17-21
Where: Parque O’Higgins, Santiago Centro. Metro Parque O’Higgins.
How much: In keeping with the park’s tradition of offering festivities for all, many Parque O’Higgins fondas do not charge an entry fee; visitors only pay for what they consume. Viva Chile charges a CP$4,000 (US$8) entry fee, which includes the first drink, after 7 p.m.
If constant cueca music is beginning to make your ears ring, head to Santiago Centro's Parque Quinta Normal for the Yein Fonda. This cleverly named three-day fiesta promises performances by renowned Chilean rockers Los Tres, cumbia legends La Sonora de Tommy Rey, and numerous other artists. Traditionalists need not worry; cueca masters Los Tricolores are on the program, too.
When: September 18-20, beginning at 1 p.m.
Where: Parque Quinta Normal, Santiago Centro. Metro Quinta Normal.
How much: Day pass (1 p.m.-8 p.m.) - CP$4,000 (US$8). Night pass (after 8 p.m.) - CP$10,000 (US$20). Tickets available through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.cl).
GRAN FONDA DEL HUASO VEGETARIANO
Let's face it: It's not easy to be a vegetarian during the Fiestas Patrias. With choripán and meat kabobs on virtually every grill, you may feel like you’re the only herbivore around.
Not so. In fact, there's an entire fonda catering to meatless diets. At the Gran Fonda del Huaso Vegetariano, guests can enjoy games and folkloric music while chowing down on vegan fare.
In addition to meat, alcohol and tobacco will be banished from this family-friendly fonda.
When: September 18-19, 2-9 p.m.
Where: La Folie Café. Catedral 2326, Barrio Brasil, Santiago Centro. Metro Cumming.
How much: General admission - CP$1,500 (US$3). Kids - CP$1,000 (US$2). Adult and child - CP$2,000 (US$4).
Web site: www.homovegetus.cl