Peruvian Holidays

Depending on when you decide to go Peru, you might find your vacation affected by one of the Peruvian holidays, festivals or events. On top of its national holidays, Peru has thousands of festivals every year. A good many of these involve paying homage to a village’s patron saint, while others revere the Inca sun god Inti, or the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas Day. Add Peru’s festive nature to its stunning natural landscapes, its ancient ruins and its warm people, and you have a vacation that seemingly couldn’t get any better. You may choose to drop in on a certain destination in Peru if it is known for best celebrating one of the Peru holidays, or you may choose to avoid the crowds and instead head somewhere else. If you have the chance to enjoy a festival holidays Peru experience, you should include it on your list of things to do in Peru. Chances are, it will be among the highlights of your trip. Maybe even right up there with that dreamed-about visit to Machu Picchu.

It only seems fitting that we begin our examination of Peruvian culture with a mention of the national holiday. An Argentine soldier, José de San Martín, led an invasion on Spanish Lima on July 12, 1821. 16 days later, on July 28, Peru would proclaim its independence after hundreds of years of living under control of the Spanish Crown. The Peru Independence Day, or Fiestas Patrias, sees celebrations throughout the country. Many homes across the land fly the Peruvian flag during the entire month of July, and public parks and plazas become the sites of folk and Creole music performances on the eve of Independence Day. Early during the dawn hours of July 28, 21 cannons accompany the raising of the town flag. Lima is the sight for the famous Fiestas Patrias military parade, and at the main cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, the president of the country is in attendance for the Te Deum ceremony. If you are traveling in Peru in late July, you will likely find that many Peruvians tend to travel to popular destinations during this time. This may affect your search for accommodations, if you don’t already have reservations.

If you are traveling in Peru during one of the main Peruvian holidays, such as All Saints Day, or Carnival, you can expect a lot of banks, tourist sites and museums to close, which can put a bit of a damper on your trip if you are trying to see and do something significant. Of course, you can always focus on enjoying the celebrations, and as festivals and holidays are such a big part of Peruvian culture, there aren’t many experiences more authentic. In Cusco, the June 24 festival of Inti Raymi is one of the biggest Peru festivals, as well as one of South America’s most popular events. Concerts, street performances and plenty of fanfare characterize the atmosphere in Cusco, with the June 24th spectacle drawing scores of locals and tourists alike at the ruins of Sacsayhuamán. In October, Lima is known for celebrating one of the main events in modern Peruvian culture. During the month of October, the Lord of Miracles, the patron saint of Lima, is paid homage. The month is known as “mes morado”, or purple month, for the color of the patron saint. While minor celebrations and observations characterize most of the month, the main processions are spectacular, drawing hundreds of thousands of onlookers and devotees. Vendors sell special trinkets, and the pervading smell of incense fills the air as “cargadores”, or carriers, hoist a large float with the glorious image of the Lord of Miracles. The Lord of Miracles celebration is beginning to spread around the country.

Bullfights are one of the Peru events that sometimes go unnoticed, but when it comes to those in Lima, Ernest Hemingway was impressed enough, and he should know a thing or two about that. However, bullfights are not for everyone, and if you are going to be in a small town where the bullfight can be held in the middle of the street, it could be an especially negative experience. It is not uncommon for the traveler in Peru to stumble upon a local event concerning Peruvian culture. Near Cusco, and in and around the Cordillera Blanca headquarters of Huaraz, village events and festivals are rather common, leading to a pretty good chance you will see one. The colorful and intriguing costumes of many Peru festivals can be very impressive, as can the level of revelry. Wherever you think you might end up in Peru, it’s a good idea to check for any festivals and events that will be going on at your intended destinations. Whether you choose to experience or avoid them, being armed with the information ahead of time can make a big difference when planning your trip.

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