In celebration of Chile's National Day on the 18th September, the Chilean Latin American September Festival is the largest Latin American Expo in Australia. We're lucky to house this event here in Melbourne, as there are Chilean communities spread over Australia, with a large amount calling Sydney home. Many Chileans fled their homeland during the Pinochet dictatorship from 1973 – 1990. The dictatorship was a cruel and bloody time in Chile's history, however sadly it is not the only tragedy this small country has suffering at the hands of corrupt politicians or outside invasion. The 18th September, in fact, celebrates the day that Chile declared their independence from the Spanish rule of the time. This occurred in 1810, however the war continued between Chileans and their European conquerors until 1826. Today the 18th September is known as Chile's Independence Day and as it falls in the spring after what can be a tough winter in the Andes region, is welcomed by the colourful population.
The Chilean tradition of celebrating the 18th September with dancing, singing, great food and fireworks is continued here in Melbourne, at the Chilean Latin American September Festival. This year the Festival is being held on the 19-20 September, so as to fall in line with the weekend, however you can bet a lot of the Chileans will start their parties on the 18th and keep it going until the Festival closing on the 20th. The 2015 Festival will be the 10th annual, and has the theme of 'celebrating our cultural diversity'. That is what makes this Festival so unique; the diversity of Latin cultures that are welcomed and represented. Music and entertainment is provided to reflect the cultures of not only Chile, but also Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Equator and Spain. Back home some of these are rival nations either politically or via football, however come together here to unite as one Latin community.
Now for the fun stuff! For those looking to set the dancefloor on fire, you are in for a treat. Music headliners this year are De La Calle, a nine-piece ensemble compiling classic and contemporary Cumbias from the Caribbean and South America. De La Calle has members from Colombia, Chile, England, Argentina and Australia and are a favorite in the late-night bars and clubs of Fitzroy. Bahia, will grace the stage with their hip-swinging salsa, backed by a percussion and brass lineup to really get you moving. The more traditionalists and mariachi enthusiasts are sure to love Sin Frontera also.
You can also expect to see traditional and modern Latin dances across the two stages, local bands, DJs and solo artists. If you're up for a party, Saturday night will see the DJs take to the stage pumping Latin beats and reggaeton until 1am! As a special treat this year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Festival, Australian icon Archie Roach will be performing. See the full program below for specific show times.
What Latin Festival would be complete without the food?! A key part of any Latin celebration are the glorious amounts of edible treats; fresh, flavourful and fiery! Whether you're seeking traditional Chilean cuisine, such as pastel de choclo, beefy empanadas or just a really good completo you're sure to find it here. Add into the mix some famed Spanish paella, Peruvian cerviche and pappas frittas that the Latinos do so well, and you're sure to be well fed before you hit the dancefloor.
The Chilean Latin American September Festival is held at Sandown Racecourse, on the Princess Highway in Springvale. This is only a short 35 minute drive from the Melbourne CBD to the South-East. You can access the Festival via public transport also. Just jump on the Cranbourne line train heading outbound and alight at Sandown Park Railway Station. From here the station is a 600m walk. The train journey will take just less than 35 minutes form Flinders Street Station.
The Festival runs from 10am – 1am on Saturday September 19, and 10am – 10pm on Sunday September 20.