DIECIOCHO INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day - Chile September brings spring to Chile, and with it the days of celebration of Chile's independence from Spain. For days before and after September 18, the Dieciocho, the country celebrates with parades, festivities, food, music and beverages. Much of the drinking, music and dancing occurs in the ramadas, open air "buildings" with a dance floor under a thatched roof, or one made traditionally with branches, as in traditional shelters. Refreshment stands, fondas, offer a variety of national food favorites.

La CuecaFrom the northern deserts to the southern tip of Chile, Chileans party in remembrance of the day in 1810 that the Chilean criollo leaders proclaimed limited self-government during the Napoleonic Wars on the Iberian Peninsula. Actual independence came in April 1818, but the Dieciocho is a treasured celebration. The scents of asados, or open pit barbecues, empanadas baking, and other favorite national dishes fill the air. Music, particularly the patriotic sounds of the national anthem and other favorites, is everywhere. Cueca competitions are a ritual, as much as the dance itself.

Wine, and chicha flow. Medialunas, the semi-circular arenas used in the rodeos, fill with spectators cheering the huasos who demonstrate their skill. Enjoy these photos taken at the Tehuelche Rodeo in Magallanes. Folkloric demonstrations of dance, costume and legends bring in the crowds.

One constant theme is the recognition and celebration of Chilenidad. Depending where you are in Chile, in addition to all the above, you can also enjoy one or more of these regional highlights:

  1. In Tarapaca, the Independence celebrations last all month with religious ceremonies, theatrical productions, and children's activities
  2. In Antofagasta, kite flying competitions fill the clearing skies.
  3. In Atacama, 300 cuecas in the Copiapó's Plaza de Armas, cueca competitions and many rodeos
  4. In Coquimbo, hundreds of children dancing the cueca, kite flying competitions and religious ceremonies and the traditional Pampilla de Coquimbo
  5. In and around Santiago, Semana Criolla which includes a rodeo, arts and crafts, food and drink, folklore presentations and children's activities
  6. In Rancagua, site of the 1814 Battle of Rancagua against the Spanish forces in which Bernardo O'Higgins was defeated and subsequently took refuge with his men in the Cuevas de los Patriotas on the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, the exuberant celebrations include the National Rodeo Championships, much music, dance and song
  7. In Maule, folkloric presentations, traditional Creole games, known as Juegos Tradicionales and equestrian events mark the Dieciochocelebrations
  8. In BíoBío, the Fiesta de la Chilenidad includes dance and cooking competitions, Juegos Tradicionales, music and folkloric presentations
  9. In La Araucanía, the Semana del Folclor is a week-long celebration of regional and national folkloric traditions, cooking demonstrations, music, history, ethnicity and everything that comprises Chilenidad
  10. In Aysén, cooking demonstrations, national cuisine, dances, and sports events.
September 19 is Armed Forces Day, with military and naval presentations celebrating the victories over the Spanish forces, led in part by the national hero, Bernardo O'Higgins, Libertador de Chile with assistance from José de San Martín.

Amongst all the celebratory events, September also has some dates that may provoke protests or demonstrations. These are the election of Salvador Allende (9/4/1970), Augusto Pinochet's coup (9/11/1970) and Armed Forces day itself, in which many protest the role of the military during the Pinochet years. Customary caution is recommended.

No matter where you are in Chile during the September Independence Celebrations, you'll hear Viva Chile! Enjoy the festivities, music, food and dance, and have a great time!

CHILE FESTIVAL CALENDAR

Chile Flag
Festival Date
January
New Year 1
San Sebastián de Yumbel 20
February
February 2 Virgen de la Candelaria (Copiapo) 2
Semana Santa
Sunday after Easter Sunday Cuasimodo
(Santiago area)
May
Labor Day End of May Corpus Christi 1
Battle of Iquique 21
June
We Xipantu, Mapuche New Year (Temuco) 24
San Pedro y San Pablo 29
August
Asunción de la Virgen 15
September
1973 Military Coup National 11
Fiestas Patrias, also known as the
Dieciocho Independence Day National
18
Armed Forces Day National 19
Pampilla de Coquimbo 20
October
Columbus Day 12
Fiestas Patrias - San Clemente 12
November
All Saints Day 1
December
Immaculate Conception National 8
Christmas Day 25
Fiesta De La Virgin Del Rosario Andacollo 24 - 27
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