Chile’s ability to stage major international events has been demonstrated to great effect by its hosting of the Dakar Rally, which passes through Chile for the fourth time in a row next year. The annual off-road endurance race first took place in 1979 from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but the course, including its origin and destination, has varied over the years. In 2009 it was held for the first time outside Europe and Africa when Chile and Argentina joined forces and offered to stage the event with the perfect, challenging terrain, free from the security threats that have dogged some of the African routes in the past.
This year’s 16-day Dakar Rally started on January 1 in Buenos Aires, with the 5,976-mile route looping through Chile’s desolate Atacama Desert to its Pacific coast before returning to the Argentinean capital.
According to the race’s deputy director Frederic Lequien, “Argentina and Chile are the most welcoming territories for the Dakar... and for them [the race] is a global showcase.” Such has been its success that Peru, Bolivia and Brazil have expressed interest in hosting a part of the Dakar themselves. Unlike previous years’ loops, in 2012 drivers will embark on a 5,600-mile pan-American odyssey through Argentina, Chile and Peru, starting in Mar del Plata on Argentina’s South Atlantic coast and heading west, over the Andes, across the Atacama, and finishing in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
|‘ARGENTINA AND CHILE ARE THE MOST WELCOMING TERRITORIES FOR THE DAKAR... AND FOR THEM [THE RACE] IS A GLOBAL SHOWCASE’|
Meanwhile, O’Higgins Park in Santiago played host last April to the first Lollapalooza festival held outside the U.S. The event also marked Chile’s first ever large-scale international rock festival. Leading musicians from Chile and across Latin America opened each day’s 11-hour lineup, which saw more than 50 acts perform on five stages, with headline shows from Kanye West, the Killers, the Deftones and Jane’s Addiction.
Sebastian de la Barra of Lotus Productions, who produced the festival with Lollapalooza’s founder and lead singer of Jane’s Addiction Perry Farrell, told The New York Times: “Festivals like this one are a window to the world for Chileans.”
This year, Lollapalooza is celebrating its 20th anniversary and expanding its brand beyond U.S. borders. But why choose Chile and not, for example, the U.K. or continental Europe? Aside from the plethora of festivals that are already established over the pond, Mr. Farrell reckoned it was because people in Chile “were available and were desirous, and we were available and we were desirous… I only want ’em if they want me.”
The festival proved to be a great success, with superb sound and performance schedules running largely on time, and Lollapalooza Chile is set to be an annual event – the 2012 dates are set for March 31–April 1, 2012. The party will then move the following weekend to the east coast, with the organizers’ foray into a second Latin American country. The inaugural Lollapalooza Brazil will be held at the Jockey Club in Sao Paulo on April 7-8, 2012.