Carnaval Mil Tambores in Valparaiso, Chile

Carnaval Mil Tambores

Carnaval Mil Tambores, which translates as “Carnival of one thousand drums,” is celebrated in Valparaiso, Chile in order to promote the culture and art of the coastal city, also known as Valpo. Mil Tambores first began in 1999 as a protest, in defense of its public places, such as their beaches, plazas, and areas where big corporations wanted to develop. It currently continues to be held in order to defend its culture, but it is also a time of celebration, happiness, and for people to enjoy their rights as free citizens of Valparaiso. Although it originated as a city function, it now attracts people from all over Chile and other countries.

Mil Tambores is a 2-day event, held around October, although the time may vary by year. The main event occurs on the second day when different organizations from Valparaiso and other cities in Chile have a huge parade, forming ensembles of dancers, jugglers, and most commonly, batucadas, playing samba-style music with the drums, repiniques, bells, reco-recos, and other instruments. Mil Tambores is known for the brightly-colored painted bodies, which represent the peoples’ freedom of expression, liberty, and artistic culture. In years past, they have advertised for people to go wearing red shirts and taking trash bags in order to clean up the trash at Playa San Mateo, Plaza Ruben Dario and Playa Torpederas, promoting care for the environment. Listening to the different groups and joining in on their dancing is an unforgettable experience.

Mil Tambores is definitely a cultural experience you should take advantage of, if you’re in Chile around this time of year. It is also a welcoming event for people of all ages; however, although the intent is to keep it a drug and alcohol-free event, the later it gets, the more you will inevitably see people drinking alcohol and smoking. So, if bringing children along, be sure to go earlier in the day.

Here are pictures from my experience.

Mil Tambores all along the coast

Manzopiña group playing the drums

Me in the green jacket surrounded by clowns with a sign that says "No more buildings on the hills"

Kids also participated in the parade

girl with flags

Dancing girls with body paint

Parading for indigenious peoples' rights

Boy from the Sambiago group playing the surdo