As a fiercely proud and independent nation that is famous for its love of fiestas, festivals and the carnival, it comes as little surprise that one of the biggest events in the Peruvian calendar is a two-day national holiday in July to celebrate Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821.
The holiday sees public buildings decked in the national colors and celebrations across the country, making it an exciting time to visit Peru. Come prepared though: this is a busy time for tourism and Peru hotels and transportation both become booked up quickly. Plan ahead and Independence Day will be a rewarding Peru travel experience.
Known as Fiestas Patrias, the holiday falls on July 28 & 29 every year and offers a chance for the country to unite in celebration of the victorious Wars of Independence and the country’s armed forces.
Throughout July on the run-up to the holiday, the red and white national flag becomes a ubiquitous sight, while immediately before the holiday public parks and plazas across the country become stages for impromptu performances of criolla folkloric musical performances.
As the holiday itself begins a number of official and ceremonial acts are fulfilled in Lima by the country’s leaders, including a symbolic journey by the President to the Congress of the Republic where he delivers his Address to the Nation, his account of the country’s progress over the past 12 months.
On the second day, the Archbishop of Lima performs Mass to an audience of leaders and national dignitaries before the Great Military Parade begins. The Parade through central Lima is a patriotic display of the country’s military and is intended to instill pride and a sense of the nation’s strength.
For those less interested in military displays, the Fiestas Patrias are accompanied by some of the most enthusiastic partying in the annual calendar. Outside of Lima, celebrations are also often tinged with local customs and indigenous traditions.
Ever keen to rival the capital, Peru’s second city Arequipa puts on an equally grand display with street processions and parties, with music and dance that lasts late into the night.
In Cusco, foreign and national tourists enjoy street parties, fireworks and plenty of pisco while in Cajamarca, Independence Day coincides with a major livestock and agricultural fair with cockfighting, bull running and displays of the fine Peruvian paso horse.
If you’re lucky to coincide your Peru vacation with Fiestas Patrias, you’re sure to witness a spectacle which will offer you a special insight into the national character.
Tips for celebrating Peru’s Independence Day
To get the most out of the occasion, bear in mind the following tips:
- Most Peru hotels will be booked in advance so if you’re traveling independently, make sure you book ahead for the 28 & 29 July.
- Banks and other essential services will be closed for the holiday, so don’t be caught short without any cash.
- Transport schedules shouldn’t change, but fares may rise and tickets will be booked up in advance.
- When in a large crowd anywhere in the world, use sensible caution to avoid the small risk of being pick-pocketed. Wear bags on your chest and keep valuables in inside pockets or money belts.
Plan your own Peru tour. Call and chat with one of our expert Travel Advisors and discover the wonders of this country.
Matt left England for Peru in 2008, originally planning to stay for just 12 months but ending up settling down in Lima working for Latin America For Less for three fun-packed years. He remains a perpetual traveller, working and writing his way through Europe, North America and Asia but he has always saved a special place in his heart for Peru and South America.