Tocopilla celebrates its anniversary on September 29 every year with a big show the day before, which includes a parade down the main street of the city, food and a fireworks display at midnight.
The city is divided into two main parts consisting of the central city and smaller portion known as La Villa Sur. The two parts are divided by the thermoelectric power plant and a large saltpeter processing and shipping plant, but the coastal highway connects the two portions. In La Villa Sur larger, more luxurious homes are to be found.
The larger northern portion of Tocopilla is home to the municipal buildings, the central plaza, and a large number of locally owned stores and shops. The steep grade of the city from beach to vertical hillside is covered in houses and apartments crammed together to save space. A large artificial beach is the main attraction during summer months and serves as a focus away from the heat of the Atacama. On the north side of the city, there is a black sand beach.