In Chile holidays include a number of traditional festivals all year round. These celebrations commemorate historical events, rural traditions or Catholic religious festivals. Often, Chile’s rich indigenous history is blended with European customs to create fascinating and colorful festivals. Below, we explain some of the country’s most important holidays, from the enchanting Easter Island Tapati Festival to the lush wine region.
Festival of the Virgen del Carmen
Between June 12–17 every year, a small town in the Atacama desert hosts the Festival of the Virgen del Carmen. The festival celebrates Chile’s patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. However, the event isn’t purely Catholic – it is a fascinating blend of indigenous and European traditions. The event is one of Chile’s most anticipated celebrations, filled with traditional music and costumes. During the festival, participants play drums, flutes, and whistles, while dancers dressed in sinister carnival costumes perform diablada, or ‘dance of the devils’ to ward off evil spirits. The procession proceeds to the Virgin’s sanctuary, where they take Mass and celebrate with street parties.
Every year, Easter Island hosts a ten-day festival at Rapa Nui. This event began in 1975 in order to keep traditional Easter Island customs alive. Now, the festival includes body painting, swimming and rowing competitions, as well as the crowning of a festival queen. More unusual activities include Haka Pei competitions, where the island’s young men sledge over banana tree trunks at high speed.
Chilean Independence Day
Chile celebrates their independence from Spain on September 18 every year. The event, which is known as Fiestas Patrias, traditionally includes parades, music, dancing, and authentic Chilean food. These streets parties feature scores of stalls and temporary thatched structures hosting dance floors, bands, and bars. Other traditional events include rodeos where two guachos attempt to coral a calf in an arena.
Grape Harvest Festival
Chile’s vineyards harvest their grapes in late March. To celebrate, wineries will organize events to celebrate the best of Chilean wine. One of the most impressive events is Curico’s Grape Harvest Festival, which involves a Catholic ceremony where a priest will bless the grapes. However, the Grape Harvest Festival isn’t generally a sombre event – there is also music, dancing, grape-stomping competitions, and of course, lots of wine.
Indigenous New Year
In Chile, holidays are influenced by indigenous and Catholic traditions. For example, Chile’s indigenous culture follow an ancestral calendar which celebrates New Year on June 24. This date is the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. Celebrating the cycle of life, giving thanks for the harvest, and marking a period of renewal and rebirth, this tradition takes various forms depending on the tribe. For example, the Mapuche festival of We Tripantu revolves around the return of the sun. Visitors can see this remarkable tradition in southern rural regions, like the town of Temuco.
Culture in Chile: Holidays and events
Chile is a country full of fascinating traditions. Therefore, if you’re planning a trip to this amazing country, gearing a visit around holidays and festivals is a great way to experience Chilean culture. With so much to learn about historical customs and indigenous culture, a vacation in Chile is a fascinating experience. On top of this, there is also a wealth of breathtaking landscape to explore. So – if you’re inspired, check out our brochures to start planning your Chilean adventure.