The main holidays and fiestas of Peru are:
January 1-New Year's Day (AÃ±o Nuevo)
February 2-Virgin de la Candelaria, Puno. The Virgin de la Candelaria is the Patron Saint of Puno. The statue of the Virgin is paraded around the town accompanied by people dancing of all ages.
Carnivalâ€“Celebrated the weekend leading up to Ash Wednesday, Carnival is the ultimate party in Latin America, and in Peru it is celebrated throughout most of the Andes. A popular custom is to throw water at people. As a gringo you are likely to be a popular target! In Cajamarca, a Carnival queen is elected and there are competitions of friendship and song.
Semana Santa-(Easter / Holy Week) Semana Santa is celebrated all over Peru, but Ayacucho is a special place to spend this period, as it hosts one of the most important Holy Week festivals in all of Peru. Leading up to Easter Sunday, Ayacucho transforms into a city of flowered streets, processions, fireworks, dancing and more.
May 1-Labor Day May / June-Corpus Christi (Body of Christ)-This is celebrated fairly widely in the Andean regions.
June 24-Inti Raymi, Cusco-June sees Cusco turn into one big party in the period preceding this important Inca festival (see box).
June 29-Day of San Pedro and San Pablo. Peru-wide holiday.
July 16-Virgen del Carmen-Paucartambo, near Cusco. This celebration is in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of Paucartambo. Folk stories are acted out by local dance groups and there are processions through the streets to scare away demons.
July 28-29-Independence (Fiestas Patrias). Independence day is an important public holiday for Peruvians, with many traveling during this period, and corresponding price hikes for accommodation. In Lima there are both military and civilian parades. Independence Day itself is July 28, while most of the celebrations take place on July 29.
August 30-Saint Rose of Lima
October 8-Battle of Angamos, commemorating a decisive Chilean victory on this date in 1879, during the War of the Pacific
October 18-28-SeÃ±or de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles). This is a very important Peruvian celebration for the Patron Saint of Lima, with huge processions through the streets, led by a select few who carry the statue.
November 1-Todos los Santos (All Saints Day)
November 2-Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Offerings of food, particularly of bread shaped like people and animals are made for and in honor of the dead.
December 8-Day of the Immaculate Conception. A festival celebrated throughout the whole of Peru, Chivay is an interesting place to observe this festival, where men dress in women's clothes and pretend to snatch the women!
December 24-25-Christmas. Celebrations start on 24. Families will gather to celebrate together with a big meal on December 24 and will together bring in Christmas. December 25 is a nationwide public holiday.
December 31-AÃ±o Viejo-New Year's Eve
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Media in Peru, Politics in Peru, Lori Berenson: An American Behind Peruvian Bars, Central Peruvian Andes Highlights, Six Places to Visit in Peru, South American Explorers Club, Peru, Gay Arequipa, Peru Border Crossings, Population and Etiquette in Peru.