Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Not sure when to visit Peru?

You want to visit Cusco and experience all the culture that this great city has to offer, but you're not sure exactly when you want to head on over. There are so many great celebrations that are a must in this wonderful country, so if you can make it over for one of them (my personal favourites are New Year, Carnaval, Corpus Christi and Inti Raymi - not to mention Christmas), it makes a great addition to your trip.


Peru's climate is formed by two seasons; the wet season and the dry season. This being said, weather varies greatly from region to region. In the highlands, January is the middle of the wet season while the coast enjoys its dry summer.
  • AÑO NUEVO. (NEW YEAR): Partygoers wear yellow (including underwear) to ring in the New Year. Yellow is considered a lucky color.
  • FIESTA DE LA MARINERA: This national dance festival held during the last week of January is especially popular in Trujillo. The marinera (sailor dance) is a synchronized choreographed dance between a man with a straw hat and a woman with a handkerchief. They seductively step around each other without ever touching.


In February, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is closed for its annual clean up!
  • VIRGEN DE LA CANDELARIA: This highland fiesta (February 2nd) is particularly colorful around Puno, where folkloric music and dance celebrations last for two weeks.
  • CARNAVAL: Carnaval is held on the last few days before Lent (February/March), and is often celebrated with weeks of water fights, singing, dancing and parades. It is especially popular in the highlands.


The Inca Trail is open once again, although the weather is still rainy.
  • FIESTA DE LA VENDIMIA (Wine Festival): March is the perfect time to sample local piscos and wines in Ica. The festival is held in the second week of March when you are likely to see fairs with floats, musicians and beauty queens stomping grapes.


Holy week is a major event, so book a hotel and transportation in advance.
  • EMANA SANTA (Holy week): While Easter itself is a solemn event, the week prior to it is celebrated with almost daily spectacular religious processions all over Peru.


In May in the highlands, the rainy season is coming to an end.
  • FESTIVAL OF THE CROSSES: This festival, held on May 3rd, is celebrated most intensely in Lima, Ica and Cusco. During the festivities, people carry crosses of various sizes in processions that lead to churches.
  • QOYLLORITTI: A Christian pilgrimage with ancient overtones is held at the chilly foot of Ausangate, a mountain outside of Cusco, in May or June.


It's the beginning of the dry season in the highlands, which naturally coincides with the peak of the tourist season and lasts until august. Reserve hotels and domestic air travel well in advance during this time.
  • CORPUS CHRISTI: This celebration commemorates the holy Eucharist as the body of Christ. It is held on the ninth Thursday after Easter. The processions in Cusco are especially dramatic.
  • INTI RAYMI (Festival of the Incas): Inti Raymi was the Inca sun god. This festival celebrates the winter solstice in his honor on June 24th. It´s the spectacle of the year in Cusco and attracts thousands of visitors.
  • SAN PEDRO Y SAN PLABLO (Feasts of Saint Peter & Saint Paul): Peter and Paul are the patron saints of fishers and farmers, and they are honored with a procession to the sea. An image of Saint Peter is taken by a decorated boat to bless the waters for the fishing season.


The best time to see visit the amazon, as in this period it is drier than at almost other times of the year (although not necessarily dry).
  • LA VIRGEN DEL CARMEN: This holiday (July 16th) is mainly celebrated in the southern Andes, and is particularly important in Pisac and Paucartambo. The virgin is the patron of mestizos (mixed people of indigenous and Spanish backgrounds).
  • FIESTAS PATRIAS (National Independence Days): Independence from Spain is celebrated nationwide on July 28th and 29th. It is celebrated with festivities in the southern Andes beginning with the feast of St. James (known as Santiago) on July 25th. It is very difficult to find a seat on a bus or a plane during this time.


August is a popular time for travel in the highlands, so plan ahead.
  • FEAST OF SANTA ROSA DE LIMA: Major processions are held on August 30th in Lima and Arequipa to honor the patron saint of Peru and of the Americas.


Spring begins in the coastal regions.
  • EL FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE LA PRIMAVERA (International Spring Festival): Expect horse parades, dancing and cultural celebrations in Trujillo during the last week of September.
  • MISTURA: Generally held in early September, this annual food festival in Lima gathers Peru´s top chefs, along with invited food connoisseurs from all the over the world for cooking demonstrations, talks and lots of sampling.


The bullfighting season begins in October and lasts through to November.
  • LA VIRGEN DEL ROSARIO: The patron saint of slaves is honored on October 4th in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. You can expect processions, marinera dance competitions and los diablos (people dressed in native devil costumes) dancing in the streets.
  • SEÑOR DE LOS MILAGROS (Lord Of The Miracles): In Lima, this is a huge religious procession honoring local Christi. The main day of the celebration is October 18th, but there are events throughout the month. In these events, everyone dresses in purple to seek blessings and miracles. There are lots of processions around the country during this time.


In November, summer begins along the pacific coast, and the fog known as garúa lifts. In the Andes and the Amazon, the intense part of the wet season begins.
  • TODOS SANTOS (All Saint´s Day): This is the first part of a two-day holiday that begins on November 1st. Families go to mass and then head to the cemetery to spend time with departed loved ones.
  • DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS. (All Souls' Day): The second part of the holiday is more festive. There are food gifts, drinks and flowers that are taken to family graves. Similar its Mexican counterpart.


The wettest months continue through to March in the highlands, and until May in the eastern rainforest.
  • FIESTA DE LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN (Immaculate Conception): This national holiday (December 8th) is celebrated with processions in honor of the Virgin Mary.
  • CHRISTMAS: Held on December 25th, Christmas is less secular and more religious, especially in the Andean Highlands. Keep an eye out for unique nativity scenes with regional holiday flourishes.

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