A Traveler's Guide to Holidays Celebrated in Peru

January 3, 2020

In a Nutshell - Major Holidays in Peru 


Being a predominantly Catholic country, Peru’s holiday calendar tends to revolve around religious holidays. These includes the biggies – like Christmas, New Years, and Holy Week (Semana Santa) when many Peruvians take to the road to travel. But the Peruvian holiday calendar also includes many unfamiliar historical and specifically Peruvian religious holidays (‘Dia de Santa Rosa de Lima’ anyone?).


Because many Peruvians work six days per week, holidays in Peru often mean a perfect excuse to let loose and ‘festejar’ (party).  As such, major holidays in Peru can be great for experiencing a true Peruvian celebration. However, most travelers tend to avoid the Peruvian holidays due to sold out buses and flights, more expensive hotels, and rowdy locals.


Since expectations in travel are everything, we suggest getting familiar with the Peruvian holiday calendar so you're not caught off-guard. 

Full Calendar of Major Holidays in Peru


 January 1 - New Years Day or ‘Año Nuevo'

Peru Travel Expert Says - Travel With Caution

Holiday's Meaning - Peruvians ring in the New Year with gusto, lots of fireworks, and many local superstitions. Parties often go from 10pm the night before to 4am or later on New Years!



 March or April – Maundy Thursday ‘Jueves Santo’ during Holy Week

Peru Travel Expert Says - Don't Travel

Holiday's Meaning - The start of Holy Week and one of the busiest travel weekends in Peru. This day honors the Last Supper, and most Peruvians get a half day or full day off.



 March or April – Good Friday ‘Viernes Santo’ during Holy Week

Peru Travel Expert Says - Don't Travel

Holiday's Meaning - Continuation of Holy Week, and likely the busiest travel holiday annually in Peru. This day honors Christ’s death, and many somber (and ironically drunken) religious celebrations take place.



May 1 – Labor Day ‘Dia del Trabajador’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Yes! Go Travel

Holiday's Meaning - An oft-overlooked holiday in Peru, since it frequently falls mid-week. A nice rest for Peruvian workers but not a big travel day.



June 29 - St. Peter & St. Paul Day ‘Día de San Pedro y San Pablo’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Yes! Go Travel

Holiday's Meaning - Another small, Peruvian national holiday that commemorates these Saints’ deaths. Not too many locals travel this holiday.



July 28-29 - St. Peter & St. Paul Day ‘Día de San Pedro y San Pablo’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Don't Travel

Holiday's Meaning - Commemorating Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821, locals flee Lima in droves this holiday and travel everywhere. Parades, parties, and revelry (along with closed businesses) are the norm. 



August 30 - Saint Rose of Lima Day ‘Día de Santa Rosa de Lima’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Travel With Caution

Holiday's Meaning - A very Peruvian (and Catholic) holiday, this day honors the patron saint of Lima. Though not a huge travel day, it’ can be a busy weekend for Peru’s northern beaches.



October 8 - Battle of Angamos ‘Combate de Angamos’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Yes! Go Travel

Holiday's Meaning - Don’t let this small, historic holiday that commemorates a famous sea battle dissuade you from traveling.



November 1 - All Saints’ Day ‘Dia de Todos los Santos’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Travel With Caution

Holiday's Meaning - A holiday for remembering the dead, this family-focused day can get busy on the roads (not typically in airports). Locals often flock to cemeteries and hometowns to honor their families. 



December 8 - Immaculate Conception ‘Dia de la Inmaculada Concepcion’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Yes! Go Travel

Holiday's Meaning - A large Catholic holiday in Peru (and worldwide) that generally is not accompanied by an uptick in travel.



December 25 - Christmas Day ‘Navidad’

Peru Travel Expert Says - Travel With Caution

Holiday's Meaning - Little explanation needed for one of the largest holidays in Peru. However, Christmas in Peru is marked by much more celebration and feasting on Christmas Eve (also midnight fireworks). Many hotels, airlines, etc. have higher rates and special policies on Christmas. 

Travel Tips During Major Holidays in Peru 


If you’re committed to soldiering on and traveling during important holidays in Peru like Holy Week (‘Semana Santa’) or Peru Independence Day (‘Fiestas Patrias’), then hats off to you! You’ll undoubtedly partake in some lively festivities. However, a few tips for the fewest possible headaches –


1. Booking Travel Early – Flights, buses, and trains all get booked out during major holidays in Peru and get more expensive the closer you get to your dates. Once your travel dates are locked in, get as much possible booked for and paid for. And don’t forget your hotel reservation – rates can double in Cusco, Paracas, and other in demand areas for escaping Lima.


2. Peruvians Know How to Party – It shouldn’t come as a surprise that major holidays in Peru come with major noise. Partying during Holy Week gets loud, goes late into the morning, and is often accompanied by fireworks and loud music. If you’re sensitive to sound, bring earplugs and an extra dose of patience. Additionally, major Peruvian holidays often include an extra burst of rogue fireworks displays at midnight. Don’t be startled!

3.. Avoid Major Destinations – If your travel plans are flexible enough to avoid major destinations outside Lima during Peruvian holidays, consider reordering your travels. For example, traveling Puno/Lake Titicaca versus Cusco/Machu Picchu over holiday dates will make a big difference in crowds, hotel costs, and other inconveniences. If you travel the most off-the-beaten-path destination in Peru first over the holiday date and save destinations like Cusco, Paracas, Huacachina, and the Colca Canyon for non-holiday dates, it’ll save you headaches and likely a good deal of money.


4. Watch for Tricky Hotel Policies – While hotel rates can jump during holiday dates in Peru, many hotels in high-demand locations also institute special policies. These include 2-night or 3-night minimums, required special dinners (over Christmas or New Years), or more restrictive cancellation policies. When confirming your hotel over major Peruvian holiday dates, always ask if the hotel has special booking policies

Other Major Regional Holidays  in Peru


Several regions in Peru have major local holidays that can complicate travel and increase traveler traffic (and noise!). Here are a few of the major regional holidays to keep in mind –

1. Inti Raymi in Cusco – Possibly the busiest holiday in Cusco, including Peruvian Independence Day and Holy Week, is Inti Raymi. The Festival of the Sun honors an Incan holiday in tribute to the sun god Inti. While June 24th is the height of the holiday, restricted entrances and higher hotel rates prevail starting on June 20th. Unless you’re headed to Cusco specifically to watch/participate in Inti Raymi, avoid Cusco from June 20 – 25 or plan to stay in areas outside of Cusco like the Sacred Valley.


2. Virgen de la Candelaria in Puno– Every first week of February, Puno’s largest regional celebration takes over the Lake Titicaca region to venerate the patron saint of Puno. The holiday and festival is a brilliant display of color, regional dance, celebration, and religious processions and ceremonies that typically runs through February 10. Though this festival does not attract nearly as many visitors as Inti Raymi, early February can mean higher hotel rates, closed business in Puno, and revelry at peak level. It’s suggested you book your hotel on Lake Titicaca, rather than in the city, unless you want to sleep in the heart of the celebration.

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