Festivals and Events
With an ancient history that encompasses Inca traditions, indigenous beliefs and Spanish influences, there is a colourful variety of festivals and events held in Peru each year.
Virgin of Candelaria Feast
Held in the first fortnight of February, this festival honours the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of Puno. The cultural and artistic traditions of the Quechua and Aymara people come alive in vibrant costumes, lively dance and music, and exquisite masks. Thousands of performers take part with the main procession following an icon of the Virgin paraded through the streets of Puno on the 2nd February.
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Taking place the week immediately before Easter, the Christian Holy Week is celebrated with much reverence and splendour in Peru. Religious processions portraying the passion, death and resurrection of Christ are held throughout the country though some of the finest are to be found in Cusco and the highland city of Ayacucho.
During Corpus Christi processions of icons of fifteen saints and virgins are carried from local churches to main cathedrals to 'greet' the body of Christ, sixty days after Easter. The festival is celebrated throughout the country but particularly impressive in Cusco.
Fiesta de San Juan (Feast Day of St. John the Baptist)
Held in honour of St. John the Baptist who is credited with baptising Jesus in the River Jordan, this festival is one of the most important festivals in the Peruvian jungle for the saint's symbolic significance with regards to water, an element that provides the lifeblood of the Amazon. Events held on this day include public parties, local bands and delicious regional cuisine with a carnival atmosphere overcoming the jungle town of Iquitos.
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Inti Raymi (The Inca Festival of the Sun)
Dating back to the Inca period, Inti Raymi marks the winter solstice and honours the Sun God with music, colourful costumes and the sharing of food. Since 1944 a reconstruction of the Inca festival is held at the ancient ruins of the Sacsayhuamán citadel outside of Cusco with replica chariots, speeches delivered in the Incan language of Queachua and processions.
Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day)
On the 28th July 1824 Peru won its independence from Spain and every year the date is celebrated with national patriotism, official parades, folk and indigenous music and the flag displayed on buildings throughout the country. Some of the best celebrations can be found in the capital of Lima.
El Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles Festival)
Every year in October hundreds of thousands of devotees crowd the streets of Lima to venerate an image of Christ painted by an African slave brought to Peru from what is now Angola. It's the largest procession in South America with participants wearing purple as a sign of devotion.
Held in the first week of November each year, Puno Week celebrates the founding of the Inca Empire and specifically Manco Cápac who is believed to have risen from the waters of Lake Titicaca and established the Inca civilization. A large procession journeys from the shores of the lake to the city's stadium with lively dances and music and the city enjoying plenty of alcoholic beverages.