Peru has a reputation for strong holding their original customs and traditions, which helped to keep them alive way past the days of Spanish rule. Today, you can find authentic cultural celebrations every month of the year and enjoy learning about the world-renowned foods, typical music and dance, traditional fashions and more.

Whether enrolling in a Semester Abroad, TEFL Certification, or International Internship, during one of the exciting 12 months will guarantee you to not only learn about one of the richest histories of a people, but to experience the cultural events like a local.

Peru-Festivals-&-Events-Calendar

January

La Bajada de Reyes

The holidays don’t end for Peruvians after the new year–holding tight to their religious traditions and ceremonies comes the celebration of Three Kings Day. Unlike most English speaking countries, the children in Peru don’t write to Santa, they write to the Three Kings. On January 5th, the children leave grass and water for the camels that carried the Three Kings to baby Jesus. The following morning, on January 6th, the kids enjoy a messy scavenger hunt left by “the camels” that lead to small gifts.

Festival de Marinera

In the city of Trujillo, couples’ pair off to showcase their elegant moves in this flirtatious dance which uses handkerchiefs in each partner’s right hand as props. The 10-day event features parades, exhibits of the famous Peruvian Paso horse breed, and of course, dance competitions. This lively event is sure to have everyone in a festive mood.

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The Traditional Fighting Festivals of Peru

Looking to move past the hostility you’ve been holding against your neighbor? This is the event for you! One of the most unique traditions in Peru aims to start off the year on a clean slate–villages come together to fight it out, literally. Once the fights are over, everyone is required to let go of the animosity and a greater peace takes place.

Entrega de Varas

Taking place in our favorite Peruvian city–Cusco–this traditional festival sees the community elders, also known as yayas, gifting the village mayor with a staff (vara)to honor his position. The special event is celebrated with fermented maize beer and llonque, a sugar cane alcohol.

February

Fiesta de la Candelaria

Topped only by Rio de Janeiro’s famous carnival, Fiesta de la Candelaria takes place as South America’s most famous festival! In commemoration of the patron saint of the city of Puno, where the festivities take place, this event features over 40,000 elaborately dressed participants performing traditional music and dance numbers over the most exciting two-week period in the country!

Cusco Carnival

During the very traditional Latin American Carnivals you can always find colorful, elaborate costumes, impressive dancers, day-long parades and night-long parties, and Peru is no different. In Cusco, you can witness one of the most unique celebrations which include a mix of Andean and Catholic traditions; Cajamarca boasts a massive Plaza de Armas  which makes it the perfect place for hundreds of people to gather for a party on the festively decorated streets, with participants wearing masks and costumes; Lima is too big of a city to hold just one party, so instead you’ll find lots to do in the different neighborhoods allowing for a variety of events throughout the week.

March

Peru’s Wine Festival: La Vendimia

In addition to the mysterious Nazca lines and the real-life mirage of La Huacachina, the Ica region of Peru also boasts some very fine wines! Peru’s wine festival, or Festival Internacional de la Vendimia as it’s known locally, has been a tradition in the region since the 1950’s. During the ceremony, a queen is chosen to stomp on the first grapes of the wine harvest season.

April

Semana Santa

Holy Week is celebrated in every city and town in Peru, but the most notable events happen in Cusco, Ayacucho and Arequipa.

Unique to Cusco is the event which revolves around the patron saint, El Señor de los Temblores or, Lord of the Earthquakes. Beginning on Easter Monday, from Cusco’s cathedral, the statue is paraded throughout the city to honor the day in 1650 when a canvas of Jesus was held to the sky to subside the tremors of an earthquake that would have otherwise left the city in ruins.

In Ayacucho, you can find some of the more traditional, religious celebrations which involve re-enactments from the text from when Jesus meets his mother, Virgin Dolorosa, until his death on Good Friday. On Saturday, an open-air market is set up with vendors selling crafts and enjoying food and music. Sunday sees a joyous celebration to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with an elegant firework display.

Much like other cities in the country, Arequipa celebrates with festivities in the central square. What sets this city apart from the rest is the burning of an effigy of Judas on Easter Sunday. The burning is held to seek justice for Jesus and punish the traitor. Fireworks light up the sky signaling an end to the celebrations.

May

Fiesta de la Cruz

The Festival of the Cross is held in towns and cities throughout the country. Unique to Peru comes the “scissors dancers” who perform their ceremonial dance on top of church bell towers trying to outdo their competitors with their risky moves. Bullfighting is also found among the festivities, with the greatest celebrations taking place in Lima and Ica on May 2nd and 3rd.

Qoyllur Rit’i

In a small city near Cusco, called Quispicanchis, you find one of the greatest indigenous festivals in South America. A pilgrimage which honors the fertility of the land and the spirits of the mountains brings over 10,000 pilgrims to the foot of Mount Ausangate alongside fully costumed dancers. Some head to the peak in search of the Snow Star and carry huge blocks of ice on their way down to use as holy water for their crops. It all takes place during the first week of May.

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We’ve been walked almost 17 hours, on the mountains over 16 000 feet, I was really tired but so close to the principal ceremony “Inti alabado” (Sun blessing) ; the moon was going to sleep and the sun would come soon, The beauty of all the things that I’ve seen around, that’s why I love photography because I can show you the things I’ve seen trough it … Tayankani 2018. . . Ya habíamos caminado como 17 horas hasta ese momento, el último descanso fue de una media hora donde intentábamos dormir luego de haber bajado la pendiente de una montaña, el lugar es conocido por qué por ahí caminan los condenados, si esa es la condena para pagar las culpas estoy segura que ahora no tengo ni una, ya faltaba muy poco para llegar al lugar del que tanto me habían hablado, el lugar donde se esperaba la salida del sol “El Inti Alabado”; toda la noche la luna llena nos acompañó ella se encargaba de guiar el camino, ya a punto de llegar al destino, me detuve para ver la luna que ya ese momento se empezaba a ocultar, Esta imagen se quedo en mi retina … era imposible no fotografiarla …ahora la comparto con uds, para que al igual que yo, la disfruten … Tayankani. ©Ninoska Montufar #cusco #peru #instapic #igersperu #igerscusco #moon #fullmoon #tayankani #yourshotphotographer #natgeotravelpic #travel #travelblogger #photojournalism #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #wanderlust #fantastic_earth #earth_portraits #aroundtheworld #earthpix #montaña #luna #moonlight #tradition #discoverylatinoamerica #qoylluriti #qoylloriti #discoversouthamerica #ctperu #experienceperu

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June

Inti Raymi

The Sun Festival of the Incas commemorates the Winter solstice.The traditional celebration returned to the public after 400 years in hiding, when it was banned in 1535. It has since grown in size and prominence attracting spectators from all over the world. Yet, the festival still maintains its cultural significance making it a must see during the month of June.

Corpus Christi

Another famous celebration in Cusco has members of various churches carry their patron saints through a procession, with the most notable beginning at the central cathedral. After an overnight vigil, a new procession goes the route of the Plaza de Armas.

July

Fiestas Patrias

Happy Independence Day, Peru! July 28th marks Peru’s independence from Spain which took place in 1821. Patriotic parties take place throughout the country, but the best celebrations happen in Cusco, Puno, and Lima

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August

Santa Rosa de Lima

Saint Rosa was the first American saint, born in Lima, Peru. She is celebrated all over the world, but of course, Lima holds the largest festivities in her honor.

September

Mistura Culinary Festival

Peruvian cuisine is raved about globally and September gives you the opportunity to try every version of it there is at the Mistura Culinary Festival. Hundreds of restaurants, bars, food carts and outdoor vendors have something tasty in store for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who attend every year.

October

El Señor de lost Milagros

This event is one of the most traditional and sacred to the Peruvians. The ceremony lasts almost 24 hours and sees tens of thousands of participants dressed in the traditional purple hooded robes to honor the statue of Christ which survived the earthquake from 1746.

November

Todos Santos and Dia de los Muertos

Like most Latin American countries, Peru celebrates All Saints Day and Day of the Dead in honor of the ancestors. At cemeteries where relatives are buried, living family members gather with flowers and food. Numerous candle light vigils are arranged throughout the night.

Puno Week

Puno Week is dedicated to Mano Capac, the first Inca to arrive on earth. As history has it, Mano Capac rose from Lake Titicaca to establish the Inca empire. Music, dancing, food and drink come with this week-long celebration.

December

Santuranticuy

Many of Peru’s events are affiliated with the Christian religion and this one is no different. In the city of Cusco, on December 24th, a huge outdoor Peruvian Christmas marketplace is set up with vendors displaying their best figurines, dolls and sculptures to decorate the traditional nativity scenes, better known as nacimientos. Other traditionally sold items include pottery, carvings and ceramics. Hot rum punch is the drink of choice as you browse the goods and prepare for the holiday.

Now that you’ve got a calendar of events, it should be way easier (or harder) to choose the perfect season to study abroad, the most exciting month to learn Spanish, or the most interesting week to volunteer in our favorite South American destination, Peru.