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5 Best Carnivals in Peru

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Peru has a lot of carnival parties, which are not just fun or colorful celebrations. The carnival season in Peru is the perfect opportunity for a great deal of cultural and identitarian expressions. Cities and towns are the epicenters of hundreds of groups that gather to dance, sing and pay homage to the Pacha Mama and the harvest.

We accompany you to discover all about the 5 Best Carnivals in Peru.


5. São Paulo Carnival

São Paulo Carnival, also known as Qhaswa, is a great celebration that integrates cultural aspects of great value and religion. São Paulo Carnival is one of the many carnivals that occur in the city, but this one keeps some elements that make it one of the most special. Due to its great cultural importance and its preservation work, the San Pablo Carnival was recognized as Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2010.


The tradition of carnivals came to Peru with the Europeans, but they did not have the cultural elements that carnivals have today. The first celebrations were carried out with rough games, throwing water, earth and even eggs. In the 19th century, carnivals began to become civilized, but they acquired satirical elements towards the main figures of the country, which caused them to be censored for a while. At the end of the 19th century, the carnivals went through a process of revolution, as they began to incorporate commemorative elements towards Pacha Mama and cultivation.


The Carnival of San Pablo is a wonderful event where the different cultural manifestations of the Andean people are commemorated. In addition, it is also an important space to honor the various religious images, such as the Pacha Mama. The bandurria, a stringed instrument, is the one that stands out within the celebrations and at the same time, it is the instrument of greater cultural and religious significance in the region. Dozens of groups from the region come to be part of this amazing event and to participate in “Bandurria de Oro” and many other events of cultural importance.


The parade during the carnivals is an incredible cultural showcase in which several groups participate along the main streets of the town. The dancers move down the street, while being encouraged by the musicians. In addition, people have traditional costumes and some carry banners and images. Food cannot be missing in the festival, so you can find several typical dishes of the region in the popular meals and food stalls.

The Carnival of San Pablo in Cusco will be held from approximately February 14 to 21.


4. Pukllay Carnival

The Puklay Carnival, also known as the Peruvian Original Carnival, is one of the most colorful and diverse carnivals in the entire country. This incredible celebration emerged as a project conceived by Isaac Vivanco Tarco in 1993. However, this did not materialize until 2003. This carnival has the purpose of promoting and developing the Chanka culture through different cultural manifestations. Today it is one of the most varied and authentic carnivals in Peru and the world. The members of the groups give their all during the dates to make known all the centuries-old traditions that their towns have to offer.


The Pukllay Carnivals celebrate the cultural diversity found in Peru and its sister countries. The groups that are part of this wonderful project perform a varied repertoire of dance and music, both accompanied by typical costumes full of history and cultural significance. In addition, it is afestival of thanksgiving to life, to cultivation, to the earth and to the Pacha Mama. During the carnival period, all groups have the opportunity to show off and display all the cultural elements of their ethnicity and culture. However, it is during the parade that everything has a much greater meaning.


The town lives a magical and fun experience from beginning to end. From the moment the town is decorated with streamers, banners and lights, passing through the entrance of the Ño Carnavalón and arriving at the parade, everyone connects to perform one of the most impressive shows in the country. Once in the parade, all the groups parade around a track, dancing, singing, playing music and partying. All the groups display colorful and history-filled attire. At the closing of the event, the groups come together once again to close with more dancing and music.




3. Carnaval de Abancay

Abanquino Carnival, also known as Carnival of Abancay is a colorful celebration in the city of Abancay in theDepartment of Apurimac. The festivities include a large repertoire of cultural manifestations, especially music and dancing. Several groups gather every year to parade and keep alive the traditions of their cultures and ethnicities. Due to its great cultural importance and its development and preservation, the Carnival of Abancay was proclaimed Cultural Heritage of the Nation on March 11, 2011.



The Carnivals of Abancay have been present in the region for centuries, as these were originally rituals or pre-Hispanic ceremonies. These ancient expressions were directed to the different images and gods, which fulfilled the purpose of giving thanks for the supplies of water and the good harvests of the months of February and March. Today, many of the rituals are still in force. However, over time they absorbed new elements that can be seen in the carnival festivities.


The Abancay carnival is a celebration that honors local traditions

The Abancay carnival is a celebration that honors local traditions



The city of Abancay is painted in hundreds of colors of all the traditional costumes of the groups. These groups come from various parts of the region and the country, all to contribute to the proliferation and development of the rich culture of the indigenous peoples. Carnival is a vehicle for the preservation of the identity characteristics of the Peruvian. During the festivities there are zapatero contests, exhibitions, presentations of dances and songs and the crowning of the Señorita Carnaval.  The traditional food can not miss, so there are festivals of stews and timpus. People have fun and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between peoples.


The Carnival of Abancay takes place between the months of February and March, just before Ash Wednesday.



2. Ayacucho Carnival

The Carnival of Ayacucho is one of the most expressive in the country. Throughout the celebration, every corner of the city is filled with fiesta, dance and music. The city of Ayacucho, province of the same name, is the epicenter of a large congregation of various groups. Every year, thousands of people gather to celebrate the festivities with chanting, dancing, colorful costumes and lots of food.


Although the Carnivals of Ayacucho have an important influence of the European carnivals, this does not mean that they are not authentic or that they do not allow the proliferation of the original Peruvian identity characteristics. The great majority of the expressions presented in the carnival, are part of ancient rituals of fertility, both of the earth and of the humans. In addition, they pay tribute to the Pacha Mama for the fruits conceived each year.


The festivities feature a variety of activities, ranging from traditional native activities to native carnival elements. On festival days, the troupes perform a large repertoire of dances, which are accompanied by incredible colorful costumes and musical pieces. In addition, the carnival includes a large number of demonstrations that pay tribute to the identity of Ayacucho. One of the most outstanding manifestations is the phukllay or Pukllay, an instrumental dance catalogued as a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Ethe Ayacucho Carnival or Carnaval Ayacuchano will be held from approximately February 14 to 16.



1. Carnival of Cajamarca

The Cajamarca Carnival or Carnival of Cajamarca is one of the most anticipated celebrations in the entire country. The celebration takes place in thecity of Cajamarca in the northern part of the country. The city of Cajamarca is known as the Capital of the Peruvian Carnival, due to the great influence that the carnival has had in the country.

The first Cajamarca carnival was held in 1930, which was celebrated with corsos and simple allegorical floats. In addition, streamers, stuffed eggshells and confetti were also played with. Later, the cuartetos and coplas contest was included, elements that still form an important part of the festivities. Currently, more than 60,000 people come to the city of Cajamarca every year to celebrate the festivities.

Besides having traditional elements of the carnival, such as the entrance of Ño Carnavalón, the coronation of the Carnival Queen and the parades, people also celebrate with parades dancing and music such as “Cilulo”. These demonstrations are performed around trees decorated with streamers and filled with gifts known as “Unsha”. The coplas, musical pieces that are accompanied by some theatrical performances and singing also make up one of the most important elements of the festival. The water wars and puntura are also part of the Cajamarca tradition, especially among the youth and children of the city.