Below is a list and description of all the festivals and cultural events in Lima (read my Lima travel guide for more about Peru’s capital city). These include annually recurring festivals, traditional celebrations, and notable upcoming cultural events like food fairs and book fairs.
For major concerts and music festivals in Lima — updated regularly — read Music Concerts in Peru.
Events in Lima
Carnaval — February is carnaval month across Peru, and the festivities are particularly vibrant — and chaotic — in Lima. Processions, folkloric dances, concerts and shows take place across the city. But the most famous aspect of carnaval are the numerous water fights that take place in the streets. Buckets of water, water balloons, water pistols: all are used to soak innocent passers-by. Keep your camera safe.
March and/or April
Semana Santa (Holy Week) — Celebrated throughout Peru, Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the week leading up to Easter (but does not include Easter Sunday). It’s a moveable feast, so dates vary depending on the year. In 2018, Holy Week runs from March 25 to March 31.
(multiple days, dates vary)
April and/or May
Lima Food Week — The fifth installment of Lima Food Week took place between April 24 and May 7 in 2017. During the event, many of Lima’s best — and most expensive — restaurants offered lunch or dinner at a set price (in 2017, S/ 59 and S/ 79 respectively). Not exactly backpacker-friendly prices, but still cheaper than normal for these top-end restaurants. Dates for 2018 are not yet available.
The Lima Marathon in 2017. Photo by lima42k.com.
May or June
Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day celebrations) — Peru celebrates its independence on July 28, the day on which José de San Martín liberated Peru from its Spanish rulers in 1821. July 29 is a day in honor of the armed forces and police of Peru. Both days are national holidays with plenty of parades, pageantry and fireworks (and booze). The Gran Parada Militar del Perú — a huge military parade in Lima — is broadcast live on TV across the country.
Second half of July
(often continuing into August)
El Señor de los Milagros — This is the biggest religious congregation in South America, with huge processions — including purple-robed devotees — passing through the streets of Lima. Hundreds of thousands of people walk through the decorated streets, with the main processions typically taking place on October 18, 19 and 28 (dates may vary and further processions might take place on different days).
(and surrounding days)
Anniversary of Barranco — The Barranco district of Lima celebrates its foundation with at least a week of events and festivities, including parties, parades and art exhibitions.
Día de la Canción Criolla (Day of the Creole Song) — A day in honor of música criolla, a traditional genre mixing influences from Africa, Spain and the Andes. Keep an ear open for the sound of free concerts.
October and November
Feria Taurino del Señor de los Milagros (Bullfighting Fair of the Señor de los Milagros) — The biggest bullfighting event in Peru and South America, attracting professional toreros (matadors) from the world’s major bullfighting nations. The event takes place at the Plaza de Toros de Acho, the oldest existing bullfighting ring in the Americas. The bullfights typically run through October and November. Understandably, protests often take place outside the arena.
November 1 and 2
Día de Todos los Santos and Día de los Difuntos (All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day) — These two days are a mix of family feasts, graveside vigils and a bit of drinking (All Saints’ Day is, after all, a national holiday). Peru’s Day of the Dead isn’t nearly as colorful as in Mexico, for example, but you might come across some interesting parades. Halloween, which precedes All Saints’ Day on October 31, is growing in popularity in Peru, especially in Lima, but it’s not celebrated with as much planning and passion as in the USA.
Festividad de San Martín de Porres (Festival of San Martín de Porres) — Saint Martin de Porres was born in Lima on December 9, 1579 and died on November 3, 1639. As a man of mixed race, Martin de Porres became the patron saint of mixed-race people, as well as barbers and innkeepers, among other things. His death is remembered each year in churches and cathedrals across Lima.
Inmaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception) — Another national holiday in Peru, this time in honor of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. Expect to see religious parades and plenty of people dragging themselves to church.
December 24 and 25
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — People stay up late on December 24 to celebrate at midnight. On Christmas Day, adults recover from hangovers while kids play with their new toys. Christmas in Lima is a fairly standard affair, with bucket loads of commercialism and busy streets.