Peruvians know how to celebrate, and their yearly calendar is loaded with festivals and events replete with local color, music, dancing, food and drink throughout every region of the country. Whether you want to time your trip to Peru to coincide with a particularly exciting festivity or wish to arrive at a quieter time and avoid the crowds, we present this 2020 event calendar as a resource to help with your Peru vacation planning. This blog is divided into Parts 1 and 2, to cover the first and second half of the year. We look forward to helping you with your 2020 Peru trip!
1- Fiesta de La Virgen de La Candelaria
When: Feb 2- 11, 2020
This lively event takes place in the altiplano city of Puno, in the Lake Titicaca region.
Costumed musicians and dancers take over the entire city, especially on February 2nd, the most significant day of the festival. On this day, an enormous procession of party-goers accompanies the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria through the streets, with much singing, dancing, and celebration. This festivity combines elements of Andean and Catholic beliefs and is considered so significant that it has been declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
When: Feb 22-25
Where: all over Peru
Carnavales are celebrated all over Peru: they are the days of food, fun, and excess in anticipation of Lent, when a more sober attitude will prevail as people renounce indulgences. In the Cusco region, it is celebrated with water balloons, foam spray, and squirt guns, as groups of boys and girls try to soak one another all in good fun. On the final day, people take turns hacking at the Yunza, a large tree laden with gifts: similar to the practice of striking a piñata: the “winner” who finally fells the tree and releases the gifts has to sponsor next year’s party!
3- Fiesta de la Vendimia
When: Early March
This ten-day long celebration takes place in the wine country of Ica. Crowds in the thousands converge on the town as Ica’s wineries open to the public and offer tastings and wine-crafting tours and events. Parades, a marinera dance contest, and vibrant fireworks displays mark the celebration. The Queen of the Harvest is chosen and presides over the main parade, which takes place on Sunday. Participants can try their hand – or rather foot -at grape-stomping, participate in traditional dances, and sample the festive local cuisine.
4- Semana Santa
When: April 5 – 11
Where: Cusco and other regions
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is celebrated with solemn yet colorful processions starting on Palm Sunday and leading up to Easter Sunday. The Señor de Los Temblores or Lord of Earthquakes procession occurs on Holy Monday: it honors the Christ figure that is said to have protected the city from a major earthquake in 1650. A Black Christ icon is paraded around the Main Plaza, carried to the Plaza de San Francisco, and back again, accompanied by a procession of Quechua singers and dancers. Holy Thursday is celebrated with the consumption of 12 different dishes, one for each of the 12 apostles.
5- Fiesta de la Cruz
Where: Lima, Cusco, Ica, Andean highlands
This event combines aspects of Catholic and Andean worship. Enormous wooden crosses are adorned with blossoms, dressed with colorful fabrics, and carried to local churches, accompanied by musicians and dancers in vibrant costumes. This is among the festivals that include the famous Tijeras (scissors) dance during which teams of young men perform elaborate and fantastic gymnastics while holding a scissors in one hand.
6- Q’oyllur riti (Star Snow Festival)
When: June 6-10
Where: Cusco highlands
This mystical festival, held during the time of June’s full moon, specifically celebrates the return of the Pleiades constellation, which is of great significance to Andean communities across Peru, and also honors the Apu (Mountain Spirit) Ausangate. The ceremony is a syncretic blend of Andean and Christian beliefs. Few people visit this remote place most other days of the year, but every June thousands of members of Quechua and Aymara-speaking communities come together and make a six-hour pilgrimage to the Q’oyllur riti Shrine, located on Ausangate. This is one of the most massive annual pilgrimage events in the Andes.
7- Inti Raymi
When: June 24
Inti Raymi is a reenactment of a centuries-old Quechua ceremony that greets the return of the Sun on the Winter Solstice and asks for Inti (the Sun God’s) blessings and help in the coming year. It encompasses three different sites around Cusco, beginning at the Qoricancha Temple in Cusco, stopping in the Plaza de Armas, and culminating with an elaborate ceremony, music and dancing, and the “sacrifice” of a llama at the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco. The entire town of Cusco becomes one huge party, as thousands turn out to join in the festivities, and tourists come to observe and enjoy the spectacle.
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