One of the biggest reasons Peru is coined as the ‘richest country in the world’ is because the Peruvian people have an immense amount of pride in their culture.
From the traditional clothing, to the food derived from Incan times, and sacred dances that have been passed on for generations, Peruvian culture truly is the richest culture in the world – and we don’t mean fiscally, nor do we care.
An important way Peruvians honour their culture is through a number of festivals that happen throughout the year.
While there are multiple festivals that happen every month all over Peru, here is one festival per quarter of the year that you have to experience some point in your life.
FIESTA DE LA CANDELARIA – FEBRUARY
This is the largest and most famous festival in Peru. It is such a big deal, that the world’s biggest Carnival in Rio de Janeiro as well as the Carnaval de Ouro in Bolivia both create their own versions of Fiesta de la Candelaria for their shows.
This festival is all about music and dance, making it one of the liveliest experiences you will have in Peru. Each performer – about 40,000 people – is covered from head to toe in the most beautifully coloured costumes as they sing and dance around the town of Puno on Lake Titicaca.
Fiesta de la Candelaria has been celebrated every year since 1960 without fail.
INTI RAYMI – JUNE
Although it is not the biggest festival in Peru, Inti Raymi in Cusco is probably the most heard of festival because it is the most traditional.
This festival is called the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun and is performed in indigenous clothing modelling the past.
Inti Raymi is held every year in June on Winter Solace and is supposed to honour and celebrate a new chapter of the year.
The Catholic and Spanish had originally banned this festival in 1535, but a modern take on the celebration started in 1944 when Peruvians were able to get their hands on some records about what used to happen.
As religion happens to be an important part of Peruvian culture, Inti Raymi is traditionally a religious ceremony that honours the god Inti, the sun god in the Inca religion.
MISTURA CULINARY FESTIVAL – SEPTEMBER
It’s time for one of our favourite topics…food!
Mistura Culinary Festival happening each September is one of the happiest times of the year. Celebrating all things gastronomic, why not have a festival to celebrate the deliciousness of this culture! With outdoor vendors and food trucks, this place is foodie heaven.
The location for the 2019 festival is yet to be confirmed. Typically held in Lima, 2019 could see it moved to Trujillo or Arequipa.
This festival is a bit more modern. You won’t see the older traditional cultural traits here as you do in the other festivals but as food culture becomes one of the main reasons people visit Lima these days, good food is now a large part of the overall culture and tourists are loving it.
And get this – over half a million visitors stop by around this time over the multiple days the festival takes place. Make sure to come hungry because you’re in for a food coma like you’ve never felt before!
SANTURANTIKUT – DECEMBER
As previously mentioned, religion is an important part of how Peru came to be and why certain traditions are held.
In Cusco every year on Christmas Eve, the final festival – other than New Year’s festivities – is Santurantikuy.
This festival is essentially like a Peruvian Christmas market. This enormous outdoor market is filled with dolls, sculptures, and other knick knacks to decorate the catholic nativity scenes that are often found inside Peruvian homes during Christmas holidays.
Religion aside, this is a fantastic festival to see some beautifully made souvenirs and get something to decorate your tree or fit in your backpack to bring back to a loved one.
Santurantikuy is so monumental to the Peruvians that the National Institute of Culture declared this event a National Cultural Heritage.
To discover more festivals in Peru, visit the Peru tourism website here.