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Festival de la Canción

Crowd of people at a concert with a purple light coming from the stage.

They perform in front of more than 15,000 spectators. They come from countries around the world. They risk their reputations performing for this crowd.

Backstreet Boys. Celia Cruz. GENTE DE ZONA. Maroon 5. CNCO.

Welcome to Festival de la Canción, the most important and celebrated music festival in all of Latin America. It has commonly been called Festival de Viña del Mar, Festival de Viña, or the Viña del Mar Festival.

Founded in 1960, each Festival de la Canción lasts for almost a week every February in Viña del Mar, Chile. Comedians, folk singers, and international musicians are invited to perform in front of all of Latin America. Many famous artists from Latin America, and around the world, have performed at the festival, some several times.
Instead of on a stage, everyone performs in the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater that changes into a light show every night during Festival de la Canción. Singers perform their famous hits and popular songs with their bands or backup dancers. All 15,000 seats are filled with fans ready not only to enjoy the entertainment but also judge it.

And this judging isn’t done lightly. The fans have the biggest say in who wins the competition—and who loses. And with this power they are rightly dubbed El Monstruo. The Monster.

Artists that impress El Monstruo will hear cheers and pleads for encores, while those who have stoked the anger of El Monstruo will hear boos and criticism.

Festival award trophy.

Artists come to Festival de la Canción to win a trophy known as La Gaviota. This special trophy is shaped like a seagull and comes in three versions: La Gaviota de Oro (The Golden Seagull), La Gaviota de Plata (The Silver Seagull), and La Gaviota de Platino (The Platinum Seagull). Both folkloric and international artists compete in their respective categories for these coveted trophies.

Besides hearing great music, many people come for the experience. The festival lasts from 10:00 p.m. to several hours past midnight. It’s a time people all over Latin America don’t want to miss—many enthusiasts watch it on local TV channels if they can’t make it in person.

But COVID-19 has changed things.

Organizers cancelled the 2021 Festival de la Canción, and in September 2021 they also decided to cancel the 2022 Festival de la Canción.

But this festival won’t stay quiet. Their YouTube channel, FESTIVALDEVINACHILE, has hundreds of videos of performances dating all the way back to the festival’s humble beginnings in the 1960s. The channel publishes throwbacks and popular performances daily. With over five million subscribers, it’s easy to see how many people watch the festival throughout the year.

The future of the festival is uncertain, but many people at home will be listening to their favorite songs from Festival de la Canción.

Xochitl Bott