Staying in Santiago for Dieciocho? Find a Fonda near you

The third weekend of September sees the country celebrating Chile’s Independence from Spain in 1810. Many of the capital’s inhabitants view the time as a chance to explore the country’s mountains or coastline and cleanse their lungs from the dusty smog of the capital’s crowded streets. However, if you happen to be staying in Santiago for this year’s Fiestas Patrias celebration there is plenty going on.

La Yein Fonda at Quinta Normal
La Yein Fonda at Quinta Normal

This year’s public holiday runs for five days, from Saturday September 15 through to Wednesday September 19. Each Chilean city has a host of Fondas (large fairs including open marquees serving food and drinks) throughout the Dieciocho holiday. Santiago has a collection of these in each commune across the city, all of which share two common themes: expressing and celebrating the customs, music, food and drinks of Chile. And also seeing the event through in a somewhat inebriated state.

<em>Copete</em>: Essential (Photo by Mauro Tapia)
Copete: Essential (Photo by Mauro Tapia)

It’s known to be a merry period with the more food and alcohol the better. The Fonda is usually staffed by a crew of cooks manning a swathe of barbeques, cooking up all varieties of anticuchos (meat on skewers). Empanadas are also a central culinary focus and Chilean’s will often recommend a small glass of the sickly-sweet Chicha as an accompaniment. You can try many of the country’s wines and beers while making your way through stalls selling local crafts.

Most of the Fondas across Santiago offer up live music and Cueca dancing and put on a lively show. We’ve rounded up some of the city’s best here:

Photo by Mauro Tapia
Photo by Mauro Tapia

• The Fonda Permanente La Popular in Matacuna just north of Estacion Central is offering three days of live music beginning on 16 September. A selection of Cumbia and traditional Chilean brass will occupy the stage throughout. Brass ensemble Banda Conmoción lead the line up. Tickets are CP $1,500 (US $3) per day.

• La Yein Fonda is one of the city’s more up-market, exclusive parties. Founded in 1996 by Santiago rockers Los Tres, the event has increased in popularity each year. There are two venues in the Santiago district, with the more easily located Quinta Normal Park being your best bet. The music will vary from bands performing Cumbia to DJs playing chart hits. Tickets are a little on the expensive side with general admission costing CP $15, 000 (US $30). The three day celebration starts on Sunday 16.

• If you are searching for something more laid back and cultured the Gran Pension Soto Fonda could be the ideal place. Featuring music, competitions and live theatre the Gran Pension will be more of a family orientated event. It’s situated in La Reina and is accessible from Plaza Egaña metro stop. Admission is CP $6, 000 (US $12) and it’s advised to book ahead at rota.producciones@gmail.com. It starts on September 15.

La Fonda Permanente at Matucana 100
La Fonda Permanente at Matucana 100

• Fonda En Toma is organised by those involved with the recent student protests. It promises a lively party in the Galpon Victor Jara in Barrio Brasil. The party starts on Friday 15 at 11:30 and runs each night until Monday morning. General admission is CP $4, 000 (US $8.40).

• Parque O’Higgins annually plays host to Santiago’s biggest Fiestas Patrias. It has the usual blend of live music and traditional games with the occasional military parade and cueca rituals. It’s free to get in and therefore is usually very crowded. Going during the day is advisable before the bedlam begins at night. Action begins on Friday night.

• An alternative take on the celebration, the Gay Fonda starts during the night of Monday September 17 at 11:30 and celebrates through to sunrise. Silvestre will put a folk rock angle on proceedings. Things take place in the Galpon Victor Jara in Barrio Brasil. Entrance is CP $4, 000.

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