Peru celebrates around 3000 festivals every year, most of which are to honor the day of a patron saint. These saints were introduced as part of Christian calendar bought to Peru by the Spanish. Most of these have been integrated with the native traditions of Peru and give color and taste to the daily life of the Peruvian people. These celebrations along with typical dances are acts of religious devotion that fill the people with happiness. Some of the better Festivals and holidays in Peru are the following month by month.
The anniversary of the Foundation of Lima is on the 28 January with celebrations usually taking place in the historical center of the capital, this goes along with tourist and cultural activities.
The Festival of the Virgin of the Candelaria, which is considered one of the most important festivals in South America. The 2 February is most important day when the Virgin leaves the church to go round and round the streets, the festival lasts the whole month. Most towns have carnivals, which are held in the second part of the month, but the City of Puno has the biggest with hundreds of different dance teams competing for the best dance prize. If you plan to visit Puno in February, make sure to check the local parades.
In Cusco in the first two weeks of March is the Señor de los Temblores, to celebrate the lord of the Miracles. Also in March is Holy Week, when planning a trip to Peru you should consider Holy week, the major cities in Peru come alive with religious parades and festivals which feature statues of Christ which are paraded through the streets and the local people throw flower petals.
Festivals and holidays in Peru in April are a little quieter than other months with the only the National Horse Riding Competition to mention. The Peruvian Paso horse is breed that descends from horses that the Spanish bought to South America during the conquest.
In Arequipa, the main festival in May is the Virgin del Chapi or the Virgin of the Purification. The local people make a pilgrimage going through the desert of Arequipa. The festival features music and food and the main celebration day is 1 May.
June is a big month in Peru for festivals; In Cusco the anniversary of the city is celebrated. During the month, there are traditional activities and food on offer. Also in Cusco in June is the Inca festival of Inti Raymi. This is the traditional festival of the Sun, to which the Inca´s worshipped. The festival coincides with the winter solstice and the harvests. The festival takes place on 24 June and you will need to book tickets.
Also in June in Cusco is Señor de Qoyllur Riti, which is the largest pilgrimage in South America. More than 10 thousand people walk on foot to Ausangate Mountain, worshipping a painting of the black Niño Jesus. The pilgrims return from the mountain with blocks of ice that they place on their lands to irrigate with the sacred water. Another religious festival to experience in June in Cusco is Corpus Christi, all the saints are taken from the Churches in Cusco and are paraded through the streets, and this is a spectacle not to be missed.
July sees the independence of Peru celebrated. The country celebrates this day with a variety of celebrations, which normally include food, music, fairs and plenty of partying.
The most important festival in August is the Santa Rosa de Lima; the faithful visit her sanctuary and the shrine that she herself constructed. One tradition is when pilgrims throw letter with requests into the well where she threw the key to her chastity belt.
In the region of San Salvador near Cusco, Señor de Huanca is celebrated. Thousands of people travel to the church of Señor de Huanca in the month of September but the main celebration day is September 14.
During the month of October Señor de los Milagros is celebrated, the faithful celebrate all month and Lima is awash with purple, on the day of the possession all wear purple tunics, singing and praying accompanied by the image of the Señor de los Milagros.
Day of all Saints and day of the Deceased are celebrated on the one & two of November and these festivals are celebrated all over the country. The days feature a mix of Christian and Indigenous beliefs.
On 24 December the festival of Santurantcuy takes place in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, the Plaza is full of stall selling arts and crafts as well as all you will need for Christmas. Christmas is celebrated in Peru as it all over the world on 25 December with all of the church having Mass and other activities. With Peru, being a very religious country Christmas is a very special time to be in Peru.