Peru is a nation with a rich history and a very vibrant present. With our cultural events calendar, you can plan your trip to Peru with precision. Apus Peru Adventure Travel Specialists can assist you to visit any one of these special events.
January :: February :: March :: April
May :: June :: July :: August
September :: October :: November :: December
Note: This list is by no means exhaustive and doesn't include some important saint's days or corpuses. Some dates may not be correct - many are determined depending on when Easter falls. Others are specific dates. We have more extensive information about many of these events, and would be delighted to email it to you. Contact us at email@example.com
1 January-El Sinkuy. El Sinkuy is a ceremonial ball game that is played in Ollantaytambo on the afternoon of January 1st. See more information at January Ollantaytambo Fiestas.
January 5-8 - Bajada de los Reyes / Dia de los Reyes Magos (Epiphany) . Celebrated most colourfully in Ollantaytambo. The Visit of the Wise is celebrated most colourfully in Ollantaytambo. There is a procession in which two images, The Christ Child and San Isidro the farmer are walked around the city. A bullfight takes place in the afternoon.See more information at January Ollantaytambo Fiestas.
20 January -The Chiaraje takes place in the remote province of Canas, department of Cusco (an approximately 4 hour from the city of Cusco). This is a festival of ritual battles or pucllay (war games) that are supposed to give life to Pachamama, Mother Earth, and for the people receive her favors during the harvest. Participants from two communities engage in battle using a variety of weapons, with the winner being the group to capture the largest area of land.
20 January - Festival of San Sebastian
The festival of San Sebastian is located in Plaza San Sebastian in the city of Cusco and features traditional dancing, food and music.
February Back to top
2- 18 February (approx) Virgen de la Candelaria
Located in the city of Puno, this colourful celebration of dancers is one of the most famous events in Peru. This is one of the most important religious celebrations to honor the Virgin of the Candelaria. Approximately 50 musical groups from all over Puno perform wearing very attractive costumes. It is a beautiful combination of colors, beauty and high spirit. (also known as Virgen de Chapi)
2 February-Virgen de Copacabana
The Virgen de Copacabana (Blessed Virgin of the Candelaria, Our Lady of Copacabana) is the patron saint of Bolivia. She is venerated in Bolivia during her feast day of February 2, the day of the Purification of Mary, or feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria. She is also venerated on August 5 with her own liturgy and popular celebration.
Festival Carnavalesco – Carnival. Spelled “Carnaval” in Portugese. Carnaval dates change every year and start 40 days before Easter Sunday. (ie it starts before Lent)
Carnaval is most famous in Rio de Janeiro but is also quite popular in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. All through the month of February, the Pukllay or Game can be seen in the city. The carnival begins with the "Day of Compadres" in which people display their joy with flowers, paint, and water. As locals get into the spirit of things… expect to get wet! The ritual of "yunsada"" is widespread. A specially-transplanted tree is bedecked with gifts, and guests dance around it before it is ceremoniously felled. The couple who strike the final blow of the axe to bring down the tree are given the honour of organising next year's celebrations. The yunsada or yunza is more frequently seen in rural areas than in the City of Cusco. In Cusco you are more likely to see dances on the "octavo" - the eighth day after Carnival.
Dates vary by year- Compadres
During the month of February, communities located within the Patacancha Valley gather for the Compadres fiesta in Maracocha. This event is an excellent opportunity to interact with locals and observe the distinct customs of each community.
March / AprilBack to top
Monday before Easter - Lord of the Tremors/Earthquakes (Senor de los Temblores).
Tradition says that this depiction of Christ carried around the Plaza de Armas of Cusco during an Earthquake saved the city. The Plaza is packed full of people every year on this special day. This year: 2 April 2012
Good Friday - 8 April 2012
Easter Week (Semana Santa - Holy Week) is celebrated all over the world. In Peru, the celebrations are most famous in the provincial city of Ayacucho, about 2 days travel (by bus) from Cusco.
In Cusco, the Holy Week is one of the examples of the Spanish heritage. On Monday, the biggest religious procession takes place in Cusco. "El Señor de los Temblores" is walked around the main streets of Cusco followed by thousands of people. During the rest of the week, Death and Resurrection are remembered through processions, the preparation of the Twelve Dishes and fasting.
Holy Week is incredibly beautiful in Ayacucho and celebrated with great pomp and the religiosity of the people can be felt in the air. During the week there are many processions and people participate with a lot of devotion.
MayBack to top
1 May-Virgin of Chapi
The fiesta of the Virgen de Chapi (also “Virgen of Purification”) is a religious pilmigrage to the Sanctuary of the Virgen of Chapi, one of the most important virgens in the region. The sanctuary is located approximately 45 km from Arequipa, and is filled with travellers from throughout the region and country on this day. The devout Catholics that make this 15-hour journey on foot depart Arequipa and travel throughout the night, carrying large, handcrafted candles. The next day, the virgin is carried in procession and fireworks and celebrations take place all night.
3 May-Cruz Velacuy/ Velakuy - Festival of the Crosses
This is a religious festivity brought by the Spanish and celebrated in Cusco and throughout the Andean region. Crosses are adorned with flowers and ribbons. People venerate the crosses during the night, they pray, and the crosses are carried to churches where they are blessed. Groups of musicians and dancers accompany the crosses.
Festival Internacional del Cerveza Cusqueña/Cusquena Beer Festival
This festival is celebrated in May or June every year and features important national and international artists and musicians. Young people from all over the country travel to Cusco to participate. This three-day festival takes place in the Garden of the Beer of Cusco, located on Avenida de Cultura.
Pentecost Sunday (Varies by year; late May to early June) - Señor de Choquekillka
Señor de Choquekillka is the patron festival of Ollantaytambo, and includes numerous processions and celebrations. The festival is one of the most important in Ollantaytambo, and lasts for four days without stop.
This year: 27 May 2012
JuneBack to top
Señor de Lord of Colloritty/Qoyllor Riti - Lord of Qoyllor Riti. One week before Corpus Christi (approx).
Señor de Colloritty is a pilgrimage to a remote site in the Ausangate region. Qoyllur Riti, or Snow Star, constitutes an important manifestation of religiosity in the Andes. The blending of Spanish and indigenous elements is interesting; here you will see celebration and veneration of the Apus, or Andean mountain-gods, combined with crosses and Catholic religious ceremonies. Pilgrims walk for about four hours, having to pass by nine crosses and shrines. The Sanctuary is located in Sinakhara, at about 4600 m. The crowd takes a purification bath, which is needed in order to enter a spiritual dimension where both the energy of deities and men join.
Corpus Christi- Thursday June 7 2012
The celebration of Corpus Christi used to be celebrated in the whole country, but the Fiesta is most impressive in Cusco. Fifteen saints and virgins, organized in several processions, arrive from different places to the cathedral of Cusco in order to "greet" the body of Christ, sixty days after Easter Sunday.
Festival of Q'eswachaka June-date varies annually - approximately second Sunday in June.
The Incas regularly constructed hanging bridges in order to cross steep highland terrain. This practice is celebrated at the Festival of Qéswachaka with the annual reconstruction of a hanging bridge crossing the Apurimac River in the province of Canas. In the three days before the principal day of the fiesta, the local people rebuild a narrow bridge built of straw, an event has occurred since Inca times. Men, women, and children from a range of communities build the bridge and are dedicated to the collection of straw, native plants, plaiting the straw and weaving it to make the bridge. They build the bridge over the spectacular Apurimac River and on the fourth day of the festival (a Sunday) all the communities of Canas province join together in a folklore festival.
24 June-Inti Raymi /16- 24 June Fiestas of Cusco
Inti Raymi is probably the most famous event in the Cusco calendar, and celebrates the Inca's rite of the winter solstice. However, the week preceding Inti Raymi often has more meaning for contemporary Cusqueños, with different parades every night of the week, fireworks and concerts in the Plaza de Armas. Cusquenos of all walks don their ponchos (mostly red) and march, while the rainbow coloured flag of Tahuantinsuyo is hung proudly from each house. The night of the 23rd June is always a massive celebration in the Plaza de Armas.
18 to 30 June- Feria Agropecaria Huancaro
A must for those with an interest in agriculture! Regional, national and international exhibitors present their products in this traditional fair. Musical groups from varied music styles perform open-air. There is also a Festival of the 13 Provinces of Cusco whose representatives prepare typical food, and play typical music.
Chaccu in Pampa Galeras / June 24th (accessed via Nazca)
Pampa Galeras is a reserve located approximately three to four hours from Nazca. Once a year, members of local communities gather to cooperate in a roundup of wild vicuñas for shearing and release, which is followed by celebration, food, and recognition of the traditional significance of the Alpaca.
Day of San Pedro and San Pablo - 28 June.
29 June - Festival of Ollantay Raymi
The festival of Ollantay Raymi is dedicated to the Inca sun god, and includes performance of the 18th century Quechua language Ollantay Drama, which tells the story of the military general Ollantay and his forbidden love of a princess. This is followed by traditional dances and the opportunity to sample local dishes.
JulyBack to top
16 July-Virgen del Carmen
Paucartambo is most famous for one massive festival: Virgen del Carmen, which takes place over four days, with the principal days from July 15th to 17th. The Virgen is known locally as Mamacha Carmen and is a patron saint of the mestizo population. The festival itself consists of lots of traditional and significant dances by people in awesome costumes.
About 40km north of Paucartambo is a site called Tres Cruces (3 crosses), which is situated on the very edge of the Andes mountains at an altitude of 3900m. From Tres Cruces, there is a steep drop into the Amazon basin, which means the view is incredible. Tres Cruces is most famous for the sunrise in the months of June and July because special climatic conditions mean that there are optical illusions.
26 July - Corpus of Santiago
Corpus de Santiago is a religious festival that takes place in Santiago Plaza, Cusco. The festival has its own typical plate, Chiriuchu, made up of small small portions of several traditional dishes.
27 July - Corpus of San Ana
Corpus of Santa Ana is a religious celebration performed in the chapel of Santa Ana, Cusco. They day before, a festive mass is celebrated with a procession, dances and musicians. Like Corpus de Santiago, its typical dish is the Chiriuchu.
28 July- Fiestas Patrias (National holiday) Most towns have lots of parades and bands. Peruvians celebrate their independence from Spain on July 28th, and the festivities range from concerts held in the multiple squares in Cusco to streets full of processions, local food and drink, and parties in many of the bars and restaurants. Make sure to wear red and white, the colors of Peru!
28 & 29 July – Yawar Fiesta
Yawar Fiesta is a ritual bullfight held during the "Fiestas Patrias" in the town of Cotabambas, in the Apurimac department. This traditional ritual represents the fight between the Incas against the Spanish conquistadors, and the figure of the condor (representing the Incas) occupies a central place.
AugustBack to top
1 August-Andean New Year vian families make "pagos" or payments to Pachamama, or Mother Earth. These pagos are done in the family home and a Shaman, Paco or Brujo (witch) is invited to assist with the ceremony
2 August-Corpus of San Cristobal
San Cristobal is a religious ceremony celebrated in San Cristobal, Cusco, and features a procession, dancing, music and typical food.
16 August-Virgen de Ausunta
Around Cusco the Virgen de Asunta is very big in Qoya, which is located in the Sacred Valley half way between Calca and Pisac. The virgin is carried in procession by dancers masked as devils.
30 August-Santa Rosa de Lima Feast Day
A national holiday and "huge" in Lima. Santa Rosa is the patron saint of the police and armed forces, and the first saint to be beatified in the Americas. Be around the Plaza de Armas at midday for a very emotive procession. Always a place of refuge from the busy Lima streets, the sanctuary of Santa Rosa de Lima on Avenida Tacna is also a good place to go any day of the year for some quiet reflection. Write a letter to Santa Rosa de Lima, with your wishes, and drop it in a wishing well with a prayer for her to grant your wish.
SeptemberBack to top
8 September-Virgen de Natividad
Virgen de Navidad is celebrated in many small rural towns and villages, but in the Cusco region the festival of the Virgen of the Nativity is particularly big in Chincheros. where it is the most important festival . Mass is held for the Virgen, whose image is carried by a procession of colorfully dressed musicians and dancers. In the evening, attendees celebrate with music, dancing and fireworks.
8 September -Corpus of Almudena
Corpus of Almudena is a religious ceremony that dates back to the 17th century. During the celebration, the Virgen of Almudena is honored at her own church, la Iglesia de Almudena, which includes a procession, typical dances and music from Cusco and the surrounding highlands, and typical food
Date varies-Q'ollur Riti- Smaller than the main event, which is held in the week before Corpus Christi, the faithful return to the Sanctuary for just 1-2 days. Large festivals also take place in Ocongate/Cattca en route to Q'ollur Riti.
14 September- Senor de Huanca (Lord of Huanca)
A pilgrimage overnight from Cusco to the shrine of Lord of Huanca, where the image of Christ has appeared to different believers over the centuries since the Spanish conquest. Very interesting opportunity to see a combination of catholicism and local traditions
Third Sunday in September (approx) -Warachikuy
Warachikuy is a festival dating back to Inca times, and was traditionally intended as an initiation ceremony for young men. After passing a series of physical challenges and mock battles, participants were allowed to gain citizenship, marry, and participate in war. These days, reenactments of the exercises can be observed, along with traditional dances and celebrations.
30 September-Corpus of San Jeronimo
The festivity of San Jeronimo is celebrated around this saint´s parrish church in the vicinity of Cusco with dances and processions.
OctoberBack to top
13 October-Señor Cautivo de Ayabaca
Each year before the 13th of October, thousands of pilgrims arrive in the town of Ayabaca, located in the northern Peruvian department of Piura, to honor Señor Cautivo de Ayabaca. The importance of the Señor is based on a legend dating back to the 18th century, when three men were said to have arrived in the village and began carving a cedar trunk. The men requested that no one see them work, and that they be given food only once a day, at dawn. After time had passed, the people of the town decided to enter the building where the men were working, but they had disappeared. In their place, they found only the statue of the Señor, and all of the uneaten food the men had been given. Because of this, the statue is said to have been made by angels. To commemorate the date of statue´s discovery, the Señor is carried through the town in procession on the 13th of October, accompanied by dancers and music.
18th October, Lima & Cusco -The Purple Month –Lord of the Miracles (Señor de Milagros)
Those that follow Señor de los Milagros wear purple throughout the month and the depiction of Christ is carried through the streets. This fascinating celebration combines Catholic, indigenous and African traditions, and is celebrated more fervently in Lima than in Cusco. (Also very popular in Santa Cruz, Bolivia). Starts on 18th of October in Lima.
3rd Monday of October-Señor de Luren Festival - Ica
Celebrated in Ica every third week of October. The origin of the devotion for the crucified Christ of Luren (Señor de Luren), patron of the city of Ica (300 km south of Lima), dates back to 1 570, when the image was mysteriously lost in the desert during a trip from Lima to Ica, before reappearing in a desolate outpost called Luren. Later, Nicolás de Ribera the Elder, Lima's first mayor, had a small church built in this spot as well as a hospital for highland Indians. Today, the modern church, built in a Romanticist style, houses the carved wooden image of the dying Christ, as well as those of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene. On the main day of the festival, Sunday, the image is borne aloft in a procession through the city from nightfall until dawn the following day.
10 October-Virgin of the Rosary
In the districts of Urcos (Province of Quispicanchis), as well as Combapata and Checacupe (Province of Canchis), homage is paid to the patron saint of the town with processions, fairs, bullfights and hearty pachamancas, which are traditional meals cooked in shallow holes in the ground over hot stones.
31 October-Dia de la Cancion Criolla
Dia de la Cancion Criolla is a national holiday celebrated most extensively on the Peruvian coast. Singers, musicians and composers pay homage to the Criolla musical tradition in various celebrations and festivals.
NovemberBack to top
1 November - All Saints Day(Dia de los Muertos). Celebrated by families by buying bread baked in the shapes of dolls and horses, and taking these to the cemetary. Pork is specially prepared on this day (lechon) and served with tamales.
DecemberBack to top
4 December-Misk'a Raymi
Celebrated in the community of Chilca, located in the Sacred Valley district of Ollantaytambo. Mis’ka Raymi is a festival of the first corn harvest. Games are played, and traditional food and drink, such as chichi de jora, mazamorras, cuy, river trout and choclo with cheese are available for purchase.
Throughout the Christmas season- Chocolatadas
A distinct aspect of Christmas in Peru is the "chocolatada" where better off people or organisations offer a bit of Christmas cheer to poor children or pensioners. A chocolatada is often organised by churches, businesses or shops and are characterised by giving a cup of hot chocolate, some bread or biscocho (a sweet bread with dried fruits inside), some sweets or maybe a toy.
24 December - Santikuraray "the selling of the saints"
On December 24th, hundreds of artisans come to Cusco from the surrounding area to lay their blankets (mantas) on the sidewalks -a custom in traditional Andean fairs- and sell carved Nativity handicrafts.
Held in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, Santuranticuy is a temporary market whose origins go back to the days of the Spanish Vice-royalty. Today it’s one of the largest arts-and-crafts fairs in the country. As it is held only once a year - the day before Christmas - there is a air of expectant excitement around the fair, as everyone prepares.
From 24 December to January 6 - Nacimientos /Nativity Scenes.
The Andean people put together Nativity scenes in churches and homes, perform dances and plays, and cook typical dishes. Most families buy the pieces for their nativity scenes at the fascinating market of Santurantikuy, (the buying of the saints), held in the Plaza de Armas on the 24th December.
Campesinos (farm people) also sell plants and mosses, used in the traditional nacimientos (see picture right) Families will keep their nativity scenes until the until la Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men) on January 6. You can go from church to church in the week preceding Christmas to see the different nacimientos and also hear church choirs.
December 31 - New Years Eve –
Many discoteks and bars have special nights but the place where it all happens is in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. About 11.30pm locals begin to gather in order to run around the Plaza as the clock strikes 12!