Peruvian Independence Day or “Fiestas Patrias” (The Fatherland Festival) celebrates the declaration of independence of Peru from Spain by José de San Martín. San Martín was an Argentine general who fought in the Spanish American wars of Independence in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Peru’s Inca civilization was the largest pre-Columbian civilization in the Americas. Lima, Peru was the capital from which the Spaniards originally controlled South America. These factors made the independence of Peru an important step in the liberation of South America from the Spanish.
As a proud and independent nation that is famous for its love of fiestas, festivals and carnivals, it comes as little surprise that one of the biggest events in the Peruvian festive calendar is a two-day national holiday at the end of July to celebrate Peru’s Independence Day. Simón Bolivar finished what San Martin had started, gaining independence for Peru from Spain in 1821.
The 28th of July is a festival day. It begins with a Mass, a congressional ceremony, and then the Peruvian President addresses the nation with his annual Address to the Nation. The 29th of July is a family day that honours the Peruvian armed forces and police with an impressive Military Parade.The holiday sees public buildings decked in the national colours of red and white, with 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 travel experience.
Throughout July on the run-up to the holiday, the red and white national flag becomes a common sight, while immediately before the holiday public parks and plazas across the country become stages for performances of criolla musical events.
For those less interested in military displays, Peru's 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 horses.
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.
Most Peru hotels will be booked in advance so if you’re traveling independently, make sure you book ahead for the 28th and 29th of July.
Banks and other essential services will be closed for the holiday, so take out your cash in advance.
Transport schedules remain the same 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 and keep your eyes on your valuables.