Chile: Annual Viña del Mar Festival is Underway

This year the annual Festival de Viña –short for Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar (Viña del Mar International Song Festival)—opened at its traditional venue, La Quinta Vergara in Viña del Mar, Chile on February 22, with the performances of Chilean humorist Coco Legrand and Canadian singer Paul Anka. The festival continues for five more days with performances by artists like Ricardo Arjona, Raphael, Don Omar and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs among others. But despite the appearance of these well-known international performers, many Chileans expected more out of this year's festival that coincides with Chile’s bicentennial celebration.

Felipe Camiroaga and Soledad Onetto as hosts of last years' festival; they are hosting this year as well. Picture taken by Flickr user alobos iphoto, and used under a Creative Commons license.

Felipe Camiroaga and Soledad Onetto as hosts of last years’ festival; they are this years hosts also. Picture taken by Flickr user alobos iphoto, and used under a Creative Commons license.

Blogger Vito [es] from Valparaiso, wanted this year's festival to reflect the celebration of the bicentennial by including more renowned artists.

Años anteriores se usaba el conocido dicho “¡que no se note pobreza!” y la Ciudad Jardín era invadida por un montóooon de artistas que, si bien no es Madonna ni Shakira, lograban llamar mucho la atención. Pero ¿qué pasó este año? ¿dónde están esos grandes artistas que celebrarían con nosotros el Bicentenario?

Years back the well known saying “don't expose the poverty!” was used, and the Garden City (Viña del Mar) was invaded by a lot of artists, that even if they were not Madonna or Shakira, attracted a lot of attention. But what happened this year? Where are those great artists that would celebrate the bicentennial with us?

Journalist, television host, and blogger Eduardo Fuentes [es] points out that bringing artists like Shakira is just too expensive; and that the criticism aimed at the artist pool is part of the festival’s culture.

Como todos los años hay voces críticas respecto al festival. De seguro, muchos de ustedes quisieran artistas como Jonas Brothers, Tokio Hotel u otros que lamentablemente están fuera de presupuesto. Siempre ha sido igual. A mí me hubiera gustado ver alguna vez a Shakira, Michael Jackson (si sé, ya no se puede) o Pearl Jam, pero simplemente no se puede, entendámoslo de una vez, son muy caros. Pero como en la vida todo es opinable lo más seguro es que siempre escuchemos voces disidentes sobre la parrilla festivalera, eso es parte del encanto también de este certamen.

Like every year there are critical voices regarding the festival. I'm sure a lot of you wanted artists like the Jonas Brothers, Tokio Hotel or others that unfortunately do not fit within the budget. It has always been like this. I would have liked seeing Shakira, Michael Jackson (I know, that is not possible anymore) or Pearl Jam, but it is simply not possible, let's understand that once and for all, they are too expensive. But as in life, everything causes opinions and we will probably always hear dissident voices about the artists at the festival, that is also part the festival's charm.

The Chilean blog Chile Liberal [es] provides a perspective –albeit not a very positive one—of what really attracts Chilean viewers to the festival:

El carácter del Homo chilensis está plasmado en el Festival de Viña. Éste es en esencia un programa de TV que nadie admite verlo, pero al final todos lo vemos, aunque sin prestar atención, menos aún disfrutándolo. Es como masoquismo. Está como ahí, pasando en la tele, pero nadie lo pesca. La única gracia es esperar los abucheos y pifias de los pelusones en la galería, que van ilusionados a presenciar un espectáculo de categoría mundial, pero al ver las proporciones liliputienses del escenario en la Quinta Vergara, se decepcionan. Y peor aún, muchos de los artistas no son sino relleno ante las falencias presupuestarias de la municipalidad de Viña del Mar. Todos lo vemos, sin verlo. Viña “es lo que hay”, y por eso es chileno hasta la médula. […] quizás lo seguimos viendo por atavismo, porque de chicos lo hemos visto, y no sabemos otra cosa. Pero al fin y al cabo, todos sabemos que lo mejor son las pifias

The character of the Homo Chilensis is reflected in the Festival de Viña. This is in essence a TV show that no one admits to watching, but that in the end we all watch, even though we do it without paying much attention to it, and much less enjoying it. It is like masochism. It is there, on the TV, but no one pays attention to it. The only interesting thing is to wait for the booing from the misbehaved audience in the stands, that attends excited to witness a show of an international level, but at seeing the lilliputian-proportions of the stage at Quinta Vergara, are disappointed. And even worse, a lot of the artists are no more than a filler due to the lack of budget from the municipality of Viña del Mar. We all watch it, without watching it. Viña is “the only thing there is” and that is why it is Chilean to the bone […] maybe we keep watching it out of habit, because we watched it when we were young, and we do not know any better. But after all, we all know the best part is the booing.
Audience at the 2008 Festival de Viña. Picture taken by Flickr user alobos iphotos and used under a Creative Commons license.

Audience at the 2008 Festival de Viña. Picture taken by Flickr user alobos iphotos and used under a Creative Commons license.

A post from the popular Chilean blog Zancada [es], where the blogger lists the reasons why she won’t be watching the festival, received many comments, mostly agreeing that the quality of the festival has declined. However, the decline in quality does not necessarily reflect its popularity. Marco Perez D (Twitter account @bichomaldito) says that if the festival was really not as popular as they advertise it to be, then it wouldn’t be broadcasted throughout Latin America.

User LA Julieta responded to the post at Zancada with a positive spin:

Trato de mirar el evento con un poco mas de cariño, si al final nos parece rasca pq tenemos la comparacion con eventos mega increibles gringos o europeos, pero hey, no nos parecemos en nada con ellos, en esto tampoco, y en vdd encuentro bkn que haya gente q le saque el jugo, y lo encuentre alucinante, importante y elegante.
Personalmente me resto, creo q nunca he visto un dia entero, pero reconozco que el dia que fui (hace mil años) lo pase increible y bailé y grité, aunque el invitado del dia fuera Cristian Castro, al que ni conocía ni he vuelto a escuchar hay q buscarle la buena onda al asunto, creo yo.

I try to look at the event with a little more affection, in the end it seems low in quality because we compare it to mega incredible European or “gringo” (North American) events, but yet, we are nothing like them, and in this either, and in reality I find it cool that there are people that make the most out of the event, and find it awesome, important,and elegant. Personally I don't, I think I've never seen a whole day of it, but I admit that the day I went (a million years ago) I had a great time and I danced and screamed, even though the artist of the day was Cristian Castro, who I didn't even know and I've never listened to again. We have to find the good side of the event, I think.

User Nachoop, the opposing view among festival-haters, simply said, “I love watching the festival. It it so, I don't know, like, etertaining!”

Finally, Muricio Jürgensen, a blogger and journalist, says that despite the usual criticism, Chile’s attention inevitably turns to the festival during this week.

Lo curioso es que esto que parece desagradar a tantos, que este evento al que le dan duro como a ningún otro en cualquier época del año, termine obsesionando de manera casi patológica a un país entero. Durante seis días y con lo que sea que hayan logrado contratar los organizadores, siempre pasa lo mismo: nadie logra abstraerse del todo. Para bien o para mal, Viña en verano siempre está en boca de todos. Atorado como si en esto se nos fuera la vida. 

What is curious is that this thing (the festival) that seems to displease so many, this event that gets pounded on more than any other during the year, ends up being the obsession of the whole country in an almost pathological way. During six days and with whoever the organizers manage to bring, it is always the same: no one can keep themselves away completely. For better or for worse, Viña in the summer is always on everyone's minds. We stick with it as if our life depended on it.


  • martha


    • Monica

      Did you find out how to watch the festival I heard it is possible to watch it on TV but I do not know what channel. Please answer

  • joyce

    help…i am wanting to attend the festival – I live in Fla. where do I begin to find tickets, housing and choosing the best days and seats????

    thank you. Joycew.

  • sonia

    You can watch it on

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site