Residents of Santiago adhere to a vampire's schedule, dining as late as 11pm, arriving at a nightclub past 1am, and diving into bed before the sun rises. But there are many early-hour nighttime attractions if you can't bear late nights. The newspaper El Mercurio publishes a Friday weekend-guide supplement called "Wiken" as does La Tercera and its "Guía Fin de Semana." Both contain movie, theater, and live music listings and special events.
The Performing Arts
Santiago is known for its theater, including large playhouses and small-scale, independent theater groups. Rarely do newspapers give reviews and descriptions of theater productions, so it might be difficult to find a production that interests you. Ask around for recommendations, or ask the staff at your hotel.
Well-established theaters with high-quality, contemporary productions and comedies in an intimate setting include Teatro Bellavista, Dardignac 0110 (tel. 2/735-2395; Metro: Salvador) and Teatro Alcalá, Bellavista 97 (tel. 2/732-7161). As the name implies, the nearby Teatro La Comedia, Merced 349 (tel. 2/639-1523; Metro: Baquedano), hosts comedy, but it is better known for cutting-edge productions. The cultural center Estación Mapocho, at the Plaza de la Cultura s/n (tel. 2/787-0000; Metro: Cal y Canto), hosts a large variety of theater acts, often concurrently. The Centro Mori (tel. 2/777-6246; www.centromori.cl), at Constitución 183, hosts well-respected, avant-garde theater acts that change weekly, and occasionally, live music; the center's hip restaurant, Amorío, fronts the theater.
But now, let's be realistic. If you do not speak Spanish, even the city's current hit production is going to be a waste of your time and money. Stick to something more accessible, such as a symphony, ballet, or opera at the city's gorgeous, neoclassical Teatro Municipal, located downtown at Agustinas 749 (tel. 2/463-1000; www.municipal.cl; Metro: Univ. de Chile). The jewel in the crown of Santiago's art scene, it is worth a visit alone to marvel at the lavish interior, dripping with marble, red velvet, and crystal. The National Chilean Ballet holds productions from April to December, including contemporary and classic productions such as The Nutcracker. There are musical events and special productions throughout the year; the best way to find out what's on is to check the theater's website. Tickets are expensive, with prices comparable to the U.S. and Britain; check the website for special promotions offering discounted tickets of up to 50%. You can reserve and buy tickets on the website, and select a seat from a diagram. Tickets are also sold over the phone Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm, or can be bought in person at the theater itself from Monday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Tickets are sold beginning 1 month before the show's starting date.
Visiting orchestras, the Fundación Beethoven, and contemporary acts play at the Teatro Oriente, Av. Pedro de Valdivia 099 (tel. 2/334-2234); buy tickets at the theater or by Ticketmaster. Teatro Universidad de Chile, Av. Providencia 043 (tel. 2/634-5295; http://teatro.uchile.cl), hosts ballet and symphony productions, both national and international, throughout the year. You may buy tickets at the theater near Plaza Italia or by phone. Ticketmaster sells tickets for nearly every act in Santiago at CineHoyts cinemas, at Falabella department stores, via their website, or by calling tel. 2/690-2000 from 10am to 7pm.
For Theater Lovers -- Santiago's largest summer festival, Festival Teatro a Mil, draws international theater troupes, clowns, mimes, and puppeteers from around the world in January to participate in a month-long celebration of the performing arts. Special productions take place in more than 15 playhouses, and the cost is a wallet-friendly 1,000 pesos ($1.70/£1.15) to enter most shows. Visit www.stgoamil.com for a list of events and venues.
The splendid Teatro Municipal was built in 1857 with the collaboration of architect Charles Garnier, who designed the Paris Opera; his influence is seen in the theater's elegant, baroque style and classic French colonnades. Beyond attending a performance here, you can also visit this venerable theater on an hour-long, English-language historical and "behind-the-scenes" tour offered exclusively by Senderos del Sur, every day, for $6 (£4) per person (tel. 2/511-5778; 24-hr. reservation required).
The Club, Music & Dance Scene
Crowd-pulling national and international megabands typically play in the Estado Nacional, the Espacio Riesco, or the Estación Mapocho. Espacio Riesco is on the road to the airport, about a 15-minute drive from Las Condes, and with no public transportation available, you'll need a taxi. Note that Espacio Riesco also hosts electronic music festivals; check the website at www.espacioriesco.cl for the weekly lineup of events. Both Espacio Riesco and Estación Mapocho are infamous for their tinny sound system. You'll find listings for concerts in the daily newspaper or the El Mercurio's website, www.emol.com, under "Tiempo Libre."
If you're looking for mellow night out, Bellavista is a good bet. Try La Casa en el Aire, Antonia López de Bello 0125 (tel. 2/735-6680; www.lacasaenelaire.cl), for a candlelit ambience and nightly live music on weekdays and Saturdays at 10pm and Sundays at 9pm. La Casa en el Aire's other location, within the Patio Bellavista complex, between Pío Nono and Constitución at Dardignac, has nightly tango, bolero, and jazz music beginning at 9 or 10pm. The center also hosts occasional readings and screens primarily art-house Latin American movies every Monday night at 8pm; check the website for the full schedule of events at both locations. Across the street, at López de Bello 0126, is El Perseguidor (tel. 2/777-6763; www.elperseguidor.cl), a happening jazz club with nightly performances starting around 11pm.
There are dozens of smaller music venues spread across the city, but the one that attracts the best bands and has the most variety is La Batuta, Jorge Washington 52 (tel. 2/274-7096; www.batuta.cl), located in the Ñuñoa neighborhood, about a 10- to 15-minute taxi ride from downtown and Providencia. The atmosphere is underground, but the crowd profile depends on who's playing. If you arrive after 10pm, there won't be a seat in the house at Mr Ed, Suecia 0152 (tel. 2/231-2624), a lively bar in the otherwise avoidable and tacky Suecia micro-neighborhood, which plays host to an impressive roll call of popular Chilean rock and folk bands and solo artists on the weekends. In Providencia, at Manuel Montt 1684 (tel. 2/269-5942), Casino Royale is a sleek venue that showcases up-and-coming bands on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in addition to comedy nights, performance art, and literary soirées. The Club de Jazz, José Pedro Alessandri 85 (tel. 2/326-5065; www.clubdejazz.cl), has been jamming since 1943, and it's one of the city's more traditional night spots. Louis Armstrong once played here, and the club continues to pull in talented acts from around Latin America and the world. Live music happens on Thursdays and Fridays, beginning at 10:30pm, and there are two shows at 7pm and 10:30pm on Saturdays. The cover charge is $7 (£4.70).
Santiago's club scene caters to an 18- to 35-year-old crowd, and it all gets going pretty late, from midnight to 6am, on average. If you like electronica, you might check out "fiestas" publicized in the weekend entertainment sections of newspapers that list 1-night-only raves and live music, or, in Bellavista, try La Feria at Constitución 275, in an old theater, open Thursday through Saturday. Blondie, Alameda 2879 (tel. 2/681-7793; www.blondie.cl), is a goth/'80s revival/electronic dance club, depending on the night. I recommend Galpón 9 (no phone) for occasional live bands, a dance floor and bar, and music that ranges from hip-hop to pop to electronica. It's sometimes referred to as "Pub la Casa," and is near the Pablo Neruda museum in Bellavista at Chucre Manzur 9; doors open at 11pm from Thursday to Saturday.
Megaplexes such as CineHoyts and Cinemark, with their multiscreened theaters, feature the widest variety of movies and a popular Monday-to-Wednesday discount price. More avant-garde and independent films can be found in "Cine Arte" theaters, such as Cine Alameda, Alameda 139 (tel. 2/664-8842), and El Biógrafo, Lastarría 181 (tel. 2/633-4435). The entertainment sections of El Mercurio and La Tercera newspapers list titles, times, and locations, or check www.emol.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.