Fantastic Festivals in Chile

La Tirana, Chilean festival

Chile’s unforgettable landscapes set a beautiful backdrop for exploring its celebrations and are a great opportunity to immerse yourself in local life. By strategically planning your visit around the festivals in Chile, you not only gain insights into local traditions and heritage but also have the chance to make once-in-a-lifetime memories and meet people from all walks of life.

Some advance awareness of the Chilean festival calendar does more than satiate a cultural curiosity – it’s practical, too! Traveling unaware puts you at risk for transportation challenges, a struggle to secure accommodations, or navigating closures or holiday hours during peak festival periods.

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Amazing Festivals in Chile

1. La Tirana Festival

  • When: July
  • Where: La Tirana (near Iquique)
  • Duration: ~1 week

La Tirana Festival is one of Chile’s most lively and best-known annual events, blending religious expression with engaging folk traditions. Celebrating the Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of Chile, the festival features colorful processions, traditional dances, and amazing live music. 

La Tirana
La Tirana is one of the best known festivals in Chile.

Travelers should be sure to witness the mesmerizing Diablada dance, which represents the eternal struggle between good and evil, brought to life by dancers in elaborate costumes. The festival’s history is rooted in a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and Aymara cultures, with origins tracing back to the 16th century, when indigenous rituals were first intertwined with Catholicism. 

2. Fiesta de la Vendimia de Curicó

  • When: March
  • Where: Curicó (Maule Region)
  • Duration: Several days

Celebrating the grape harvest, or Fiesta de la Vendimia, is a fabulous expression of Chile’s renowned wine culture. One of the most fun events takes place in Curicó, renowned for being one of the oldest and most significant grape harvest festivals in all of Chile. 

Grapes for wine
Wine is an institution in Chile!

Curicó is part of the Maule Valley, a prominent wine-producing region, and the festival reflects the rich wine heritage of the area. Amidst lush vineyards and wineries set on rolling hills, wine enthusiasts are sure to enjoy traditional dances, parades, and of course, grape-stomping competitions. 

The festival is great fun, but also very representative of the essence of Chilean winemaking – emphasizing the agricultural roots and the significance of the harvest season that’s so important to Chile’s wine producers.

“As big wine fans, it’s definitely a big dream of ours to check out a vendimia festival, and we’re eager to plan our next visit to Chile for harvest time.”

3. Inti Raymi Festival

  • When: June 24
  • Where: Andean indigenous communities, especially in the north
  • Duration: 1 day

While you may associate Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, with Cusco, Peru, it is celebrated by indigenous communities throughout the Andes every June 24. Happily, this includes Chile! 

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Honoring the Incan sun god, Inti, the festival marks the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Festivities include traditional rituals, music, dances, and the symbolic rekindling of the sun’s energy. 

It is a really special opportunity to witness firsthand the connection between indigenous populations and their ancestral traditions and participate (respectfully) in local community gatherings.

4. Fiesta de la Pampilla

  • When: September
  • Where: La Serena
  • Duration: ~1 week

Once you’ve learned a few Cueca steps in Talca, the Fiesta de la Pampilla is your next Independence Day celebration to enjoy. Located in La Serena, this festival combines traditional customs with modern entertainment galore. Expect rodeos, horseback riding competitions, folkloric dances, fireworks, and lots of local food to sample. 

Don’t miss the food on offer at Fiesta de la Pampilla!

If you can’t make it to La Serena, you’re in luck – Independence Day, locally known as Dieciocho, celebrates Chile’s declaration of independence nationwide. Festivities include traditional ramadas (stalls), Cueca dancing, rodeos, and, of course, traditional Chilean cuisine. Be sure to try empanadas and asado, and check out the vibrant street parties!

5. Tapati Rapa Nui

  • When: January to February
  • Where: Easter Island
  • Duration: 2 weeks

Tapati Rapa Nui is a unique festival held each year on Easter Island, celebrating the Polynesian heritage of the Rapa Nui people. The event originated in the 1970s, emerging as a response to declining awareness and practice of traditional customs, and showcases traditional competitions, ancient sporting events, intricate body painting, and the crowning of the Queen of Tapati. 

Rapa Nui
Rapa Nui is expensive and hard to reach but worth the effort!

In particular, don’t miss the Haka Pei, where competitors slide down a hill on a banana trunk! Note that Easter Island is quite far from mainland Chile and a visit here is expensive. That said, Rapa Nui is an absolute marvel so squeeze in a visit if you can spare the time – it’s absolutely on our bucket list of places to visit.

6. Cueca Festival, Talca

  • When: September
  • Where: Talca
  • Duration: ~1 week

The Cueca Festival celebrates Chile’s national dance, the Cueca, during the country’s Independence Day festivities. Held in Talca, the event brings together dancers and musicians from across Chile to showcase regional variations of the Cueca and honor the dance’s historical roots (originally symbolizing courtship, with distinctive handkerchief movements and fancy footwork) and the diverse cultural influences that shape Chilean identity historically and today. 

YouTube video

Visitors will surely enjoy lively performances, but should also take the opportunity to learn basic Cueca steps themselves! In addition to the dance competitions, there are also traditional music performances and cultural exhibitions to check out.

“As someone with a major case of ‘two left feet’, I have to admit I haven’t attempted the Cueca – yet! But I will next time!”

7. Carnaval Con la Fuerza del Sol

  • When: January or February
  • Where: Arica
  • Duration: 3 days

Considered by many to be one of the best lesser-known carnivals in South America, the Carnaval Con la Fuerza del Sol takes place in ‘The City of Eternal Spring’, a hotspot for surfing and hiking. 

Every year, Andean dance corps showcase the dances native to the highlands, as well as the Afro-Chilean communities native to inland Arica & Parinacota through parades and other fun activities.

While here, don’t miss the chance to check out the Chinchorro mummies, one of the world’s oldest mummification practices. The Chinchorro people, who lived in the coastal areas of northern Chile around 7000 to 1500 BCE, left behind some of the world’s oldest mummies and an amazing archaeological legacy, definitely worth exploring at the Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum or hiking to the Anzota Caves. 

8. Rey Balduino de Bélgica Grape Harvest Festival

  • When: March
  • Where: Casablanca Valley
  • Duration: One day

Another option for a great vendimia festival in Chile takes place each year at grape harvest time in the Casablanca Valley. This festival in particular celebrates the strong ties between Chile and Belgium, and the festival is named in honor of King Baudouin of Belgium. 

Wine drinks
This festival celebrates the relationship between Chile and Belgium through wine.

The event includes grape stomping, traditional Belgian dances, and a parade. It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy the fusion of Belgian and Chilean cultures as well as all the wine tastings you could desire.

9. Semana Santa (Holy Week)

  • When: March or April (dates vary)
  • Where: Countrywide
  • Duration: Holy Week (from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday)

Semana Santa is a deeply-rooted religious festival commemorating the Passion of Christ which is celebrated by Catholics around the world. Across Chile, towns and cities engage in elaborate processions, reenactments, and religious rituals. 

Semana Santa
Semana Santa is a Christian festival celebrated globally.

Note that the week has a largely solemn atmosphere and is largely an opportunity for those of the Christian faith to reflect, but don’t let this deter you from visiting. 

While not as boisterous as other celebrations, Holy Week is a wonderful and special time to witness the traditional ‘Miserere’ services, attend processions featuring beautiful religious statues, and participate in related spiritual gatherings.

“Having witnessed other Semana Santa processions in places like Sicily, Spain, and other parts of Europe, we definitely recommend this as a top culture tip.”

10. Fiesta de La Candelaria

  • When: February 2
  • Where: Copiapó, Atacama region
  • Duration: 1 day

While the largest Fiesta de La Candelaria in South America is the UNESCO-recognized one in Puno, Peru, the “Candlemas” is actually a worldwide celebration. Honoring the Virgin of La Candelaria, who is the patron saint of miners in Chile, the festival in Copiapó features traditional dances and street fairs with delicious cuisine, as well as a religious procession that winds its way through the streets of the town. 

San Pedro de Atacama
The Atacama region is stunningly beautiful.

Participants carry a statue of the Virgin of La Candelaria accompanied by prayers, and hymns – overall a great way to learn more about the cultural expressions of the Atacama Desert region and one of our absolute favorite places that we’ve ever visited. In particular, don’t miss checking out the vibrant Bailes Chinos dance, which has indigenous and mestizo roots and is performed with colorful costumes, masks, and music.

11. Fiesta de la Virgen de Andacollo

  • When: December 24 + 25
  • Where: Andacollo, Coquimbo region
  • Duration: 2 days

The Fiesta de la Virgen de Andacollo is a religious celebration dedicated to the Virgin of Andacollo, considered one of the most revered religious events in Chile. 

Pilgrims from across the country gather for processions, traditional dances, and religious ceremonies. It’s a beautiful opportunity to witness faith and community, as well as to explore the historic Andacollo Sanctuary. While there are solemn processions, there are also colorful fireworks displays, live music, and a festive atmosphere to enjoy. 

Chile’s festivals are joy-filled, culturally stimulating, and fun, and aligning your visit with one of these events is a great way to immerse yourself in Chilean traditions, sure to enrich your travel experience. 

Of course, planning is essential. Awareness of festival dates and must-sees ensures smoother travel logistics and the opportunity to participate more fully in the festivities and is sure to be well worth the extra effort. 

If you have any lesser-known festivals in Chile to add to this list, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.  

Tegan & Alex Bio Pic
Tegan George & Alex McKenzie | Why Not Walk

Tegan and Alex are travel, hiking, and biking enthusiasts currently based in Boston, USA. There is nothing they love more than exploring new places by walking, and they have visited over 30 countries together since they met in 2015. Their love for “walking the world” led them to found Why Not Walk, a travel guide site. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to start planning your next adventure!

Find them on: Facebook | Instagram

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