A Guide to the Best Festivals in Peru

by on 20th June, 2023

Peru festivals are some of the most colourful and spectacular celebrations in the world.

Peru festivals include fiestas, parades, and processions throughout the country at various times of the year. Visitors are welcome on many of these special occasions. The main celebrations mark Inca history and the country’s independence whole newer festivals show Peru’s modern outlook.


What Is the Inti Raymi Festival in Cusco, Peru?

Inti (sun god) Raymi (festival) is the second largest festival in South America and one of Peru’s finest displays of indigenous culture. Inti Raymi is a celebration of the Inca New Year and winter solstice held throughout the Tawantinsuyu (Inca Empire).


What Are the Origins of Inti Raymi?

The original Inti Raymi started in 1412 and included animal and human sacrifices to Inti. The date marked the end of winter and the start of the New Year. The offerings were to please the god and return the life-giving sun to bring fertility to the Andes.

A vast procession walked from Qorikancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun and now Cusco’s Catholic Convent of Santo Domingo, through to the Sacsayhuaman fortress. Inti priests would bless people, and the procession would return to Cusco in an event lasting several days.

Priests sacrificed llamas, and their entrails examined for divine omens. Next they spilt a goblet of corn beer called chicha onto the earth, while the Sapa Inca, the Inca leader, drank a second goblet.

Inti Raymi of Tawantinsuyu was last held by Inca Atahualpa in 1535 before being banned by Spanish conquistadores. It was resurrected in 1944 by Faustino Espinoza Navarro, a Quechua writer, actor and director. Navarro wanted to restore the Quechua people’s pride and identity.


Festival in Cusco, Peru


How Do People Celebrate Inti Raymi?

The modern interpretation of Inti Raymi is also held on June 24. The nine-day party starts early in Cusco, with locals celebrating in the days leading up to the main event.

People dress as pumas, snakes, and condors, while others sweep away evil spirits with brooms. There is also a vast procession, with actors playing the part of the Sapa Inca king and his consort Mama Oclla. It starts at sunrise at Qorikancha and sweeps through Cusco’s streets into the main square, Plaza de Las Armas.


festival-cusco-plaza de armas-peru


People dance in traditional costumes and perform theatrical performances as the parade goes through the city. The procession continues to Sacsayhuaman, following in ancient Inca footsteps. Animal and human sacrifices are no longer carried out; speeches, a staged llama killing, and corn beer offerings are.

Visitors can buy tickets to the Sacsayhuaman performance or get to Plaza de Las Armas early to get a good viewpoint. Inti Raymi is one of the unmissable Peru festivals.


cuzco festival Peru


How Do They Celebrate la Candelaria in Peru?

Every February, Peru’s La Candelaria festival in Puno mixes Catholic and Andean traditions.

Now inscribed in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, La Candelaria starts at the beginning of February in this city on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

A Catholic mass kickstarts the event, followed by an ancient Andean purification ceremony. People hand over handwritten prayers to the saint. The next day, an image of the Virgin is taken on a procession through Puno’s streets. Traditional songs and dancing accompany the Virgin on her parade, along with “Mamacha” Candelaria, the patron saint of Puno.


Uros crafts Titicaca peru


The music turns into a two-week contest, with thirty thousand dancers and eight thousand musicians pouring into Puno from all over the southern region. Quechua and Aymara groups compete. There are also mask-making workshops to pass on skills to younger generations: a final Catholic ceremony, parade, and farewell mass close La Candelaria.


What Is Peru’s Fiesta de la Vendimia?

The coastal towns of Pisco and Ica are famed for vineyards which produce the finest of Peru’s national drink, Pisco.

In 1958, the Fiesta de la Vendimia was launched to help people celebrate and understand more about Pisco. Vineyards open their businesses for guests to tour and learn about the process.

There are two days of fireworks, dancing, music, concerts, and, of course, food and drink fairs. People also crown the “Reina de la Vendimia” during a beauty pageant. The winner, once crowned, presses grapes with her feet.


Pisco sour cocktail


Pisco is used to make the wonderful Pisco Sour cocktail; check our recipe.


What Is the Mistura Culinary Festival in Peru?

The Mistura Food Festival is the largest culinary festival in South America. Held in the capital Lima, it bakes in Peru’s reputation as the place to visit on the continent for innovative and delicious fusion food.

Mistura started in 2008 with several thousand visitors. Today, it lasts ten days, attracting more than 600,000 visitors. There is a prominent farmer’s market showcasing Peru’s incredibly diverse produce and food stalls run by everyone from celebrity chefs to small vendors and restauranteurs.




Tasty treats to look out for include ceviche, anticuchos, tamales, soups, Chifa (Peruvian/Chinese fusion), chocolate, coffee, guinea pig, and more. Visitors can listen to guest speakers or watch cooking competitions. Each year features a different theme, so you’ll never repeat it.

Mistura takes place in late August/early September every year and is an essential on the Peru festival culinary calendar.


Peru Festivals: How Do People Celebrate Semana Santa?

Semana Santa, or Holy Week (Easter), is an important date in Catholic-dominated Peru. Christian and indigenous celebrations often overlap during this week-long Peru festival.

There are processions and feasts, and folk may chant in Quechua as well as Spanish, Apu Jesucristo and Apu Yaya Jesucristo being popular. In the northern city of Huaraz, festivities end with the release of thousands of birds.

The city of Ayacucho, about 100 miles west of Cusco, is renowned for its lively Holy Week with exhibitions, food and music contests, and lots of chicha corn beer.


Chicha Fermented Maize Beer Peru


Around 100 miles east of Lima lies the Andean town of Tarma. Locals splash the streets with colour thanks to rugs made from the region’s unique flowers.

Here’s a quick resume of Semana Santa in Peru:

  • Palm Sunday: People head to churches, cathedrals, and plazas to have their palm leaf decorations blessed.
  • Easter Monday: Look out for processions in honour of saints.
  • Holy Tuesday & Wednesday: Believers visit churches and cathedrals for mass.
  • Holy Thursday: Today, Christians visit temples to see the Blessed Sacrament. There may be foot-washing ceremonies in some churches.
  • Good Friday: Many Catholics stay home to think about the story of the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Glorious Saturday: Some Peruvians hold parties and street festivals at night to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
  • Easter Sunday: This is the biggest day of Semana Santa. There will be exhibitions, fireworks, parties, and music.

Believers and atheists alike can find plenty to enjoy during this most religion-based of Peru festivals.


Peru Festivals: What Is the Fiesta de Las Cruces?

The Fiesta de las Cruces (Festival of the Crosses) or Cruz de Mayo (May Cross) falls on May 3 annually. Locals deliver decorated crosses to churches, and hold crucifix vigils on any hilltops that house crosses.

That mix of Christianity and indigenous beliefs is evident once more, with lively dancing and music offered in thanks for a return of bountiful harvests. Interestingly, Fiesta de Las Cruces is more prevalent in highland areas than coastal or lowland regions.

Before the Spanish conquered Peru, Andean farmers would have held the festival around this time of year to thank the gods for their recently harvested crops. Nowadays, that harvest-time festival has merged with the Catholic calendar. For believers, May Cross commemorates Saint Helena’s search for the cross on which Jesus was said to have died.


Chincheros residents and church Cusco Peru


How Does Peru Celebrate Its Independence Day?

Peru gained independence on July 28, 1821, when General San Martin declared independence from Spanish rule. It wasn’t until 1826 that the Spanish finally surrendered, birthing the country known as the Republic of Peru.

Independence Day in Peru is July 28, known as the Fiestas Patrias. In fact, the country takes two national holidays to celebrate; July 28 to mark Independence Day and July 29 for the first day of the formation of the Republic of Peru. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Fiestas Patrias are Peru’s most important national holidays.

Festivities usually start the night before July 28, with parties and people festooning their homes with the Peru flag. At midnight on July 28, the fireworks begin to fire, and there is a 3-D light show at the Fantasia Fountain in Lima.

There are 21 gun salutes nationwide and a flag-raising ceremony in Lima. However, the main event of July 28 is the Independence Day speech in Lima’s Plaza de Armas, given by the president, who speaks about the country’s progress over the previous year. Nationwide, plazas host concerts with food and drink on offer. Look out for Pisco sours everywhere.

The following day, July 29, marks the formation of the Republic of Peru. There are military parades and celebrations of the Peruvian war victories, with the largest heading down Avenida Brazil, from Magdalena del Mar to Centro de Lima. There are plans, tanks, helicopters and elite special forces rubbing shoulders with indigenous self-defence militias.

Away from large cities, expect plazas to be full of food, drink, music, and fireworks to mark the birth of Peru.


cusco-plaza-de-armas Peru


Planning a Trip to Peru Festivals

Many hotels book up a long way in advance to attend Peru festivals. Contact us; we can help organise transport, accommodation, and even tickets to the best celebrations.

And remember to carry enough cash to cover your partying because many banks close during these festivities.




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