Chile’s rich history, varied landscapes and friendly locals make it a great place to spend Carnival in South America. There’s something for everyone here. Looking for a culturally authentic experience, a mix of cultures, or a wild music fest? You’ll find them all in Chile.
Way up north, the Carnaval Andino Con la Fuerza del Sol (meaning “the Andean Festival with the Strength of the Sun”) in Arica is a three day festival with a big reputation. Their message is one of peaceful blending among Andean communities. Bolivians, Peruvians and and Chileans all gather to show off their own culture and celebrate the others’. A large parade is comprised of troops from regions all over, each specializing in a particular dance, passed down from their ancestors that show celebration & gratitude, or strength for those in grief. The festival is in late January so as not to conflict with the other Carnival celebrations.
Get crazy on the coast in Vina del Mar, a normally upscale resort town turned Carnival music haven. It sits about two hours west of Santiago, making it a perfect city escape year round and especially at Carnival time. Vina del Mar’s Music Festival takes place at the end of February and is one of the largest of its kind in the world, being nationally broadcast. Pop, folk, and international talent grace the stages to play for huge crowds.
Heading further south – way, way down south, you’ll find Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. The Fiesta de la Nieve, or Snow Festival, is held here for those brave enough to wear their teeny costumers in freezing weather. Fans of the cold can also visit the nearby Winter Carnival in Punta Arenas. It’s the area’s most popular and are filled with dancers, parades and fireworks erupting over the Strait of Magellan.
For an experience unlike any other you’ll find, head to Easter Island for their Tapati Rapa Nui Festival. This two week long celebration begins in early February and sees a competition wherein the community competes for one of two candidates to be named Queen. Competitions include bareback horse riding, boat races, carving, mat weaving and the entertaining Haka Pei – a sled race of sorts down a hill on banana trunks. Even the craftsmanship of their costumes, made from local materials like feathers and mulberry tree bark, count towards the queen’s victory. There’s a triathlon of sorts that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s called the Taua Rapa Nui. Participants row across the Rano Raraku crater lake, then run around it carrying a load of heavy bananas. Finally, swimming the length of the lake with a reed raft completes the exhausting race. If this sounds a little exhausting, you can always sit back and admire the amazing traditional dance and song. This festival was designed by locals, for locals making it a truly authentic, non fabricated experience. Of course, they always welcome outsiders to come join in on the fun!
Hoping for Carnival 2013, (or 2012!)? Class Adventure Travel has a lot fantastic South America tours that can easily incorporate the best destinations for Carnival in South America into your vacation.