The Peruvian yearly calendar is loaded with festivals and events full of local color, music, dancing, and the chance to sample Peru’s famous gastronomy, throughout every region of the country. Whether you time your trip to Peru to coincide with a particularly exciting festivity, or wish to arrive at a quieter time and avoid crowds, this event calendar will be a great tool to help with your Peru vacation planning. This is the second installment of a two-part blog that includes significant events taking place in Peru from July through December of 2020.
1- Virgen del Carmen
When: July 15-18, 2020
This otherwise sleepy town hosts a massive celebration, the Virgen del Carmen festival, every July. The town is located 4 hours east of Cusco, and every year thousands of locals and tourists alike converge upon it to celebrate the Virgen del Carmen, an Andean Madonna. On the central day, the icon of the Virgen del Carmen is carried through the town, accompanied by the ever-increasing fervor of masked and costumed dancers and musicians, who wage a triumphant battle against Satan and his cadre of demons. On the last day, participants flock to the local cemetery to pay homage to the souls of the departed.
2- Mistura (at time of publication of this blog, this event not yet confirmed for 2020)
Where: Lima (TBD)
This “food event extraordinaire” takes place every September in Lima. It celebrates cuisine from the various regions of Peru and from other nations as well. To give you an idea of the popularity of Mistura, in 2008, its first year, it had about 30,000 attendees: in 2017, over 600,000 people attended! A nominal admission fee gains you entrance to the food fair, with a huge diversity of tasting plates on offer. Smaller and larger portions are available at a fixed price. The chance to sample many different kinds of gourmet fare and beverages make this event enormously popular with food-lovers from all over the world. (The 2020 dates and location have yet to be announced.)
3-El Señor de Los Milagros
When: Oct 18-28
Where: Lima, Cusco, throughout Peru
This is a celebration of the endurance of the Brown Christ, El Cristo Moreno, whose image was created by a slave in the 17th century in Lima’s Pachacamilla Barrio, near the city center. A temple was built to shelter the image, which withstood a massive earthquake in 1655, and has remained unharmed in subsequent tremors and quakes. On the first Saturday in October, a replica of the Cristo Moreno is paraded through the streets of Lima and Cusco. Purple is the signature color of this celebration, and you will see many violet-costumed participants, as well as purple ornaments, floats, and banners if you attend. It is also a great time to try Peruvian mazamorra morada (a type of pudding made from thickened and sweetened purple corn drink). Thousands flock to Peru in October to marvel at the dazzling displays that accompany this event.
4- Puno Week
When: Nov 1-7
This is one of the significant celebrations in Puno, a city located on Peru’s Altiplano (high plains) on the shores of Lake Titicaca. It dedicated to Manco Capác, the legendary founder of the Inca Empire, who is believed to have emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca. An aquatic procession wherein the participants slowly drift from the Floating Islands of Uros on large totora reed watercraft and proceed to the Puno Harbor is one of the week’s main events. Dancing, music, parades, and wild parties take place throughout Puno over the course of the week.
When: Dec 24
Where: Cusco’s Main Square
Santurantikuy, a Quechua word that translates to “Buying a Saint,” is a craft fair that has been held on Cusco’s Plaza de Armas for five centuries! The saints are religious icons that are painted by locals and sold to adorn the nativity scenes, or pesebres, which are the main Christmas displays put up this time of year throughout Peru. In addition to saints and materials for the pesebre, Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is stuffed full of vendors selling everything from handcrafted soaps to jewelry, from chocolate to toys to knit hats and scarves for Christmas gifts. Thousands of people attend, so progress is slow as you make your way from one end of the plaza to the other and marvel at the sheer variety of items available for purchase from local craft vendors, and hopefully pick up a few Christmas gifts for the folks back home.