Peru is a beautiful country filled of traditions and with a great cultural richness. Peruvian people are proud of their culture and like to show it, and celebrate it constantly. Thus, Peru is one of the countries with the most festivals and festivities in Latin America. You can enjoy their history, art and cuisine all year round in the different activities that are organized often. The three major festivals of Peru are:
Trujillo Marinera Festival (January)
We start the year on a high note, with Peruvian festivals. Trujillo Marinera festivities take place in January, in the city of Trujillo at the northern Peruvian coast. And guess what? It lasts the whole month of January! Are you starting to see how much Peruvians love their cultural events?
So, what is Trujillo Marinera Festival? Is it maybe a religious festival like those that are so important for Latin American culture? Or maybe the commemoration of some important events in Peruvian history? Those seem pretty good reasons to party for a month, right? But no. You might not have guessed it but Trujillo Marinera Festival honors nothing less and nothing more (Drums playing here, please) than a traditional Peruvian Dance.
Yes, it seems Peruvian people do not need any other specific reason to celebrate a long festival other than partying itself. I have never seen any other city that has a one-month festival dedicated to a dance style, have you? Well, I guess Marinera dance style is not just any dance. It is so important for Peruvians that it was declared a National Cultural Heritage, along with the Paso Horses, a special kind of horse that is bred in Peru and that also makes its presence during these festivities.
The Trujillo Marinera Festival is filled up with musical, cultural, gastronomic events, parades and tons of other activities to enjoy. And not only Marinera dance has its moment in the festivities, as you can also find other traditional dances being presented during the events. The most important part of it, however, is the National Marinera Competition.
Marinera is a couple dance, born from the mixture of indigenous, European and African cultures during the Spanish Conquer. It is believed to have developed from the traditional colonial Zamacueca dance, because of some similarities. The music of the Marinera is called by the same name too, and it comes in different varieties depending on the characteristics of each region. The funny thing is that the Day of Marinera (Music) is actually celebrated on October.
Anyway, it is in January when Trujillo city sees itself full of couples from all over the country, and some international guests, waiting to compete for the Marinera Championship with their handkerchiefs waving from one side to another. Why handkerchiefs? Well, it seems to be one of the characteristics of this dance. All dancers use handkerchiefs and move them around during the dance as part of the choreography.
Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria (February 1)
You might have already heard about the Festival of the Virgen De La Candelaria, which takes place at the beginning of the month of February. However, you must not get confused between the one taking pace in Copacabana, Bolivia and this Peruvian version of it. Virgen de La Candelaria is actually an important religious figure in many places, so celebrations in honor of this figure can be found in more than one country.
The Peruvian Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria is actually bigger than the Bolivian one. In fact, it is considered one of the biggest festivals in South America, along with the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and in Oruro, Bolivia. And by saying it is one of the biggest festivals in South America, we are talking about both, the duration and the affluence of people that participate and attend the different activities organized for the festivities. The festival lasts around 20 days, so two thirds of a month; and gathers around seventy thousand people in the city of Puno.
The festival preparations start very soon in the year with lots of people designing and building the different costumes and clothing, rehearsing the music or the choreographies of various different types of rhythms that will be played during the festivities. Not all the groups will perform at the same time, of course, they take turns to show their talent during different days, at different times and different locations. That is how we get almost 20 days of nearly non-stop festivities.
At three o’clock in the morning of the first day of February, the “Alferado”, who is in charge of the organization for the festivities, climbs up to hill Azoguini with some of the musicians and other performers and guests. They, then, start the festival and wake the rest of the town up with their music and firecrackers, while descending again to the Church of San Juan Bautista for the first mass. From there on, there will be performances and celebrations everywhere around you, until the festival is over. Sometimes, however, the festival meets immediately the carnival, which means another twenty days of celebrations for all.
International Festival of The Vendimia(March 24)
The International Festival of The Vendimia takes place on the month of March and it is dedicated to the grapes industry, including the wine elaboration industry. The festival is full of performances, music, shows and games for both children and grown-ups. It is like a big fair that revolves around grapes and its derivatives.
How grapes came to Peru is a very debatable story. According to different authors of Peruvian history, there are different people, situations and dates that could be named in the history of Peruvian wine. What we do know for sure, is that the climate of this country was very helpful to insert this fruit, which was originally European, specifically brought from Spain. That is how wine industry in Peru reached a very high development and is now a very important producer of this beverage.
Vendimia refers to the gathering of the mature grapefruit. It is during the months of February and March when the crops of grapefruit give the most out of them and farmers can obtain a good quality product in great quantities. Once harvested, the grape used to be pressed with the feet on big recipients to extract its juice and prepare the various alcoholic beverages, which come out of the different types of grapes available.
Although the wine yards of our days have more modern, easier and effective methods and machinery for extracting and processing the grapes, the International Festival of The Vendimia is an occasion to honor those ancient ways. Everyone is invited to help stepping on the pools of grapefruit, but only once the Queen of the carnival has set her foot first, so says the tradition.
I guess we could say that the International Festival of the Vendimia, is to Peru what Octoberfest is to Germany, only with their own different cultural manifestations and traditions, of course; but the idea is more or less the same. There are a lot of celebrations and attractions around the production and consumption of wine and other grape based products, and they are focused on showing their traditional ancient culture.
The International Festival of the Vendimia, besides being a great occasion to taste alcoholic beverages and enjoy this side of Peruvian culture, is also an awesome opportunity to talk about some business. As it is already implied by the word “International”, there is people from all over the world that travel to Peru for this festival. If you are a Peruvian vineyard trying to internationalize your product, which moment could be better to show it off and speak to some important people in the international market and industry?
Don’t forget to stop by at the German website Backpackertrail, to read more about what the beautiful country of Peru has to offer, when it comes to planning your vacation.
List of other major festivals
- January – Trujillo Marinera Festival
- February – Fiesta de la Candelaria (February 1st)
- March –Festival Internacional de la Vendimia in the city of Ica (March 24th)
- April – During the festivities of Holy Week (April 14th), the festivity of Señor del los Temblores del Cusco is one of the most important events. It honors Jesus Christ, who protected the city from some serious earth movements some centuries ago.
- May – Fiesta de las Cruces (May 3rd) is celebrated throughout the country. It is also celebrated in some other countries, but the Peruvian way is particularly interesting.
- June – Inti Raymi (June 24th) is one of the most important indigenous festivities in various Latin American countries. It is the festivity of the Sun God.
- July – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (July 15th) is a four-day religious festival in honor to Virgin Mary. It is filled with dances, parades and shows portraying the amazing mixture between Catholicism and indigenous cultures.
- August – Día de Santa Rosa de Lima (August 30th). This day is celebrated in honor of the first native Latin American saint.
- September – Mistura Culinary Festival
- October – Procesión del Señor de los Milagros (October 20th)
- November – Puno Week (November 1st)
- December – Christmas (December 24th – 25th)