Where to go during Carnivals in Peru

Carnaval History

Carnival is mainly a christian celebration in the western world. This celebration take place during february or March. But, what you do during this celebration? if you ask any peruvian they will say: Dance! Definitely, dancing is an important art of the peruvian culture.

During this celebration people can enjoy of different events such a parades, street parties, false battle, colorful costumes and masks are everywhere and also the consumption of alcohol is really high combine with street food. All with a circus style: colorful, sometime grotesque; many of them trying to make satire out of the authorities.

Among the most famous Carnivals of the world we find the one in Venecia due to the amazing very well designed costumes and masks. The one in Rio de Janeiro, well we don’t need to say much about it but the huge amount of money spent in the celebration. And New Orleans, that keep the tradition of the french carnival.

Peru in Carnaval

The festival got to Peru of course with the Christians, but through the years the carnival began to take on its own characteristics.

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century the celebration was famous mainly in Cajamarca and Lima. But in the capital city the sometimes dangerous tradition of throwing water, colored dust, eggs and other no so nice liquids, produce a banned of this tradition by the authorities and the suppression of the traditional holidays, monday and tuesday, causing this a damage to the celebration.

Water and sometimes other liquids Ballooning | © Pexels / Pixabay
Water and sometimes other liquids Ballooning | © Pexels / Pixabay

The carnival was also a way to make fun of the police and other authorities, the population used ugly mask that mock the police and politicians. Of course these masks were banned in the whole country.

Later it was proposed to follow the carnival models of Argentina and Italy and everything changed a lot; in that moment they started parades with decorated cars and become a celebration where people show their better and fancy clothes. But in the neighborhoods around Lima the celebration stayed the same. The fun, the lust and the dangerous got together with andean migration and their own traditions.

This Andean traditions are based in the celebrations for the rains of February. So dancing is mandatory during the festivities of the carnivals. Recently, various celebration of the traditional Andean carnival in the country has been proclaimed  as a cultural heritage, these are: Carnival Ayacuchano, Carnival of Santiago de pupuja, Carnival of San Pablo in Cusco, Carnival of abancay.

The Inca costume  parade in Cajamarca | © manchav / Pixabay
The Inca costume parade in Cajamarca | © manchav / Pixabay

The Famous Cajamarca Carnival

One of the greatest Carnaval festivities in Peru is the one in Cajamarca, a northern city of peru. There, the Carnival is celebrated with colorful costumes, music, water games, and the traditional yunsa tree celebration. During this tradition people dance around a tree, covered with decorations and gifts. Once the dancing is over, the tree is cut down with a machete, in the moment the tree fall down, spectators and participants run to collect the prizes that fall from the tree.

Beautiful and Colorful Costumes in Cusco | © manchav / Pixabay
Beautiful and Colorful Costumes in Cusco | © manchav / Pixabay

What about Cusco?

In Cusco this celebration, as it is in the whole country, is a colorful party on the streets and in plaza de armas. Where institutions of the city show their best dancing qualities to everybody. The yunzas or cortamontes, The Festival of Compadres and Comadres (almost a sister or brother in law) where the compadres invite his comadres to have dinner and vice versa (celebrated on Thursdays before the main celebration on sunday), are the main attraction.

February is a fun time to visit any city of Peru. Yes we know you just can’t wake up today  , and come here, but you can start planning for the next one. Anyway we have a lot of tours the whole year that might like you. Just check it here.