Mil Tambores Carnival in Valparaiso

Carnival Mil Tambores in Valparaiso, Chile

Carnaval Mil Tambores, which translates to “Carnival of one thousand drums” is celebrated in Valparaiso, Chile in order to promote the culture and art of the coastal city. Mil Tambores first began in 1999 as a protest in defense of its public places, such as its beaches, plazas, and areas where big corporations wanted to develop. This carnival continues to this day not only as a method for defending 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 lasts two days and is usually held in October, although it varies by year. The main event occurs on the second day, when different organizations from Valparaiso and other cities in Chile hold 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 also known for the brightly-colored painted bodies, which represent their expression of liberty and artistic culture. In the past, they have advertised for people to go wearing red shirts and take trash bags in order to clean up the trash at Playa San Mateo, Plaza Ruben Dario and Playa Torpederas, promoting care for the environment. The experience to listen to the different groups and join in on their dancing, seeing them so lively, is unforgettable.

Mil Tambores is a cultural experience you should take advantage to see if you get the chance to travel to Chile around this time of year. It is 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, one will inevitably see people drinking alcohol and smoking, so it is recommended to go earlier in the day if going with younger children.

Here are pictures from my experience.

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

Boy from the Sambiago group playing the surdo