Festivals and Holidays in Peru
Peru celebrates around 3000 festivals every year, most of which honour the day of a patron saint. These saints were introduced as part of the Christian calendar brought to Peru by the Spanish. Most of these festivals have been integrated with the Native traditions of Peru, bringing colour, dance and celebration into the daily lives of the Peruvian people. These celebrations along with typical dances are acts of religious devotion that fill people with happiness and are an important part of all Peruvian cultures. Some of the better Festivals and holidays in Peru are listed below month by month.
The anniversary of the Foundation of Lima falls on the 28th of January with celebrations usually taking place in the historical centre of the capital, this goes along with tourist and cultural activities.
The Festival of the Virgin of the Candelaria, which is considered to be one of the most important festivals in South America. The 2nd of February is the most important day in the year, celebrating when the Virgin leaves the church to go through the streets, the festival lasts the whole month. Most towns have carnivals, which are held in the second part of the month, but the City of Puno has the biggest festival, with hundreds of different dance teams competing for the best dance prize. If you plan to visit Puno in February, make sure to check the local parades.
In Cusco, in the first two weeks of March is the Señor de los Temblores, celebrating the lord of Miracles. Also in March is Holy Week, when planning a trip to Peru you should consider Holy week, the major cities in Peru come alive with religious parades and festivals which feature statues of Christ which are paraded through the streets and the local people throw flower petals in celebration of Christ.
Festivals and holidays in April are a little quieter than other months with the only real celebration worth mentioning being the National Horse Riding Competition. The Peruvian Paso horse is a breed that descends from horses that the Spanish brought to South America during the conquest.
In Arequipa, the main festival in May is the Virgin del Chapi or the Virgin of the Purification. The local people make a pilgrimage going through the desert of Arequipa. The festival features music and food and the main celebration day falls on May the 1st.
June is a big month in Peru for festivals; In Cusco, the anniversary of the city is celebrated. During the month, there are traditional activities and food on offer. Additionally, there is also the Inca festival of Inti Raymi. This is the traditional festival of the Sun, which the Incas worshiped. The festival coincides with the winter solstice and the harvests. The festival takes place on the 24th of June and in order to take part, you will need to book tickets in advance.
The Senor de Qoyllur Riti is the largest pilgrimage in South America; more than 10 thousand people walk on foot to Ausangate Mountain, worshiping a painting of the black Niño Jesus. The pilgrims return from the mountain with blocks of ice that they place on their lands to irrigate with the sacred water. Another religious festival to experience is Corpus Christi; all the saints are taken from the Churches in Cusco and are paraded through the streets, and this is a spectacle not to be missed.
Independance day; the country celebrates this day with a variety of celebrations, which normally include food, music, fairs and plenty of partying.
The most important festival in August is the Santa Rosa de Lima; the faithful visit her sanctuary and the shrine that she herself constructed. One tradition entails pilgrims throwing letters with requests into the well where she threw the key to her chastity belt.
In the region of San Salvador near Cusco, Señor de Huanca is celebrated. Thousands of people travel to the church of Señor de Huanca in the month of September but the main celebration day falls on September the 14th.
During the month of October, Señor de Los Milagros is celebrated; the faithful celebrate all month and Lima is awash with purple. On the day of the possession, the people wear purple tunics, singing and praying to the image of the Señor de Los Milagros.
Day of all Saints and day of the Deceased are celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November and these festivals are celebrated all over the country. The days feature a mix of Christian and Indigenous beliefs.
On the 24th of December, the festival of Santurantcuy takes place in the Plaza de Armes in Cusco. The Plaza is full of stalls selling arts and crafts, and with Peru being a very religious country, Christmas is a very special time to be in Peru, as the country is overcome by celebration and prayer.
There are many festivals worth seeing during different times of the year, so do your research and book a tour today! What are you waiting for?
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