This August 15th will mark the 476th founding anniversary of Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru and a popular destination for travelers wishing to the world’s two deepest canyons, which are located nearby. 20,000 people are expected to visit the city during the month’s celebrations.
A full roster of activities has been planned so that locals and tourists alike can mark the occasion all month long. Just a few days ago, there was a Chicha Fair in the city’s main square, accompanied by a marching band parade, and a few days before that the cathedral bells signaled the start of a military parade.
The larger events are still yet to come, however, and as usual we’ve got all of the details for you:
From today until the end of the month, the Ironwork Art Fair will take place at Pasaje San Francisco #415, from 9am through 8pm each day. The event honors the traditional methods of the craft, so a look through the stalls and at the work of the competition entrants will teach you a little about one of the arts which gives the historical center of Arequipa part of its charm- and, you might even walk away with a souvenir or two.
You can learn even more about the art, history and culture of Arequipa tomorrow, August 9th, which is the first day of the Sillar Art Fair. The event will take place over three days, with the second and third days falling on the 10th and 11th, and honors the work done with sillar volcanic stone. This pearly stone, off-white with a pink hue, is the material with which most of the buildings in Arequipa’s historical center were built. This is what gave Arequipa its nickname, The White City, and is part of the reason that the city’s center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the intricately carved facades of these buildings inspire you to see more, stop by the fair in the city’s main square, the Plaza de Armas, in front of the Basilica Cathedral. There will also be artisans present who work with iron and copper.
Also on the 11th, there will be a float parade called the Salute from Tiabaya to the City of Arequipa. The floats will show off different elements of the traditional culture of this countryside town, located outside of Arequipa city proper. You’ll see everything from a giant cuy chactado, the fried guinea pig staple of local picanteria eateries, to colorfully dressed folkloric dancers and a demonstration of the sowing and cultivation of local crops.
From Friday, August 12th through Sunday the 14th, you’ll be able to sample traditional treats from the city’s colonial period at the beautiful Claustro de la Compania during the Arequipenan Sweets Fair. A bowl of mazamorra de airampo or papaya is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culinary scene!
This Saturday, August 14th, there’ll be a procession of Arequipa’s banner throughout the city’s main square and central streets that will begin at 9am. Then, in the evening, there will be an open air concert on the Explanade of San Martín Bridge. The serenata, as it’s known, attracts well-known national and international artists: this year’s roster includes Los Montoneros, María Antonieta Dávalos, Ana María Rossi, Muñoz, Cesar Deglane, X Dinero and Choconga.
The most anticipated event of the festivities is the famous Corso de la Amistad, the Friendship Parade, which takes place on the anniversary proper, Monday the 15th, exactly one week from today. 109 districts from the region will be participating, and the president of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has confirmed that he’ll arrive in Arequipa the day before in order to preside over the celebrations.
Make the most out of your time in Arequipa by exploring the city’s popular historical center and its scenic countryside. If you have time to explore further out, consider a trip to the crater of the city’s most iconic symbol, El Misti Volcano, or a visit to Colca Canyon to see its tiny Andean towns and the endangered Andean Condors as these impressively massive birds circle in search of food.
If you’ll be staying at a hostel in Arequipa’s city center, keep in mind that some central streets will be blocked during large events, making it easier to move around on foot on days like the 14th and 15th. Furthermore, banks will not open on the day of the anniversary, so you’ll either want to take out cash beforehand or locate an ATM located outside of a bank. Most importantly, be wary of pickpockets who might take advantage of the crowds and events in order to lift some wallets and cell phones- it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and taking additional precautions will allow you to enjoy the festivities fully.