Each July 28th, Peru celebrates the anniversary Jose de San Martín’s proclamation of independence in Lima’s Plaza de Armas, and on the 29th, honors its Armed Forces and National Police. It’s one of the year’s most important holidays, with many workers taking advantage of the long weekend to travel. Others enjoy the parades, music, food and dances to be had in their own cities. If you’re traveling during the days surrounding Fiestas Patrias, be aware that some shops and banks will only open for half a day or not at all. Buses and flights continue, but the increased demand due to the long weekend means higher prices and less availability.
In Lima, the first day begins with a 21-cannon salute and the raising of the flag, a Te Deum at the Lima Cathedral, and the president’s address to congress regarding the state of the nation. The following day is the Great Military Parade and, during election years, the new president is sworn in.
The first thing you’ll notice are the red and white flags fluttering festively along the city streets, and a party atmosphere throughout. Get into the spirit by donning your Peruvian flag, sinking your teeth into traditional treats, and raising a glass of the national liquor, pisco. Or better yet, check out our list of 10 ways to celebrate Fiestas Patrias in Lima:
10. Attend the Serenade in Parque de la Muralla (Free- July 27th)
On the eve of Independence Day, Lima sponsors a serenade known as Lima Salutes the Nation. Expect to see Afro-Peruvian Creole Music, Folkloric Bands, Marinera Dancers, and modern rock groups as well. It ends with a short fireworks display.
9. Watch the Fireworks (Free- July 27th)
Although the informal, not-quite-legal fireworks will begin exploding sporadically beforehand, the official show begins at midnight. You’ll be able to appreciate the show from the Plaza de Armas (Lima’s main square) and the surrounding streets.
8. Watch the Magical Water Circuit at Reserve Park’s “3D Spectacular” (4 Soles- July 27th)
In honor of Fiestas Patrias, the fountain park known as the Magical Water Circuit puts on a show of lights, music, and 3D footage of Lima’s Municipal Ballet, folkloric dances from around Peru, and other cultural standards. The park hands out the glasses and projects the show on the large Fantasia Fountain. Each show lasts 20 minutes and will run continuously throughout the long weekend, from 8:15pm to 9:15pm. You can also explore the rest of the park’s fountains and enjoy musical bands and traditional food.
7. Drink Pisco From the Central Fountain (Free- July 28th)
Lima celebrates Pisco Day on the 4th Sunday of July….this year, it falls on the same day as Fiestas Patrias! Most bars will offer specials on this day, but you can enjoy a free taste in the Plaza de Armas, where 2,000 liters of Pisco replace the water that normally runs through the historic fountain. This is generally accompanied by a Peruvian Paso Horse show and musical bands, but since it falls on the same day as Independence Day this year, expect a different- and better!- show.
6. Watch the Gran Corso (Free- Date To Be Announced)
The colorful floats, long dragons, costumed performers, and bands of the Gran Corso (Great Parade) stretch several blocks and snakes through downtown Lima, around Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, and into Barranco. Stake out a spot in Parque Kennedy to watch the parade, or walk down 28 de Julio Avenue in central Lima to see the floats lined up before parading. Miraflores’ neighboring barrio to the south, Barranco, has the least crowds, so for better visibility and photos, try watching from there.
The date varies throughout the week and hasn’t been anounced yet (last year it took place on Sun July 22nd), so you’ll need to ask; remember that many people will refer to it as the Corso de Wong, after the supermarket sponsor. It’s worth tracking down though- it’s the best parade of the Fiestas (as the military parade can be a bit…sober).
5. Sample Anticuchos & Other Traditional Foods (3-15 Soles, All Week)
Anticucho means cut stew meat in Cusco, and while you’ll find chicken, beef, sausage, and intestine, the most traditional choice is beef heart. During Inca times, the dish was prepared with llama, but the Afro-Peruvian population redefined it using the organ meats available to slaves during the colonial period. It can be intimidating to try, but they’re delicious and a great way to get into the Peruvian spirit. More anticuchos are consumed in July than during any other part of the year! You’ll find many vendors hawking them streetside.
In addition, Lima hosts a national food fair all throughout the week of Independence day, allowing you to sample goodies from the desert coast, the Andean range, and the Amazon jungle all in one place.
4. Toast with Pisco Sours or Ponche de los Libertadores
Peru’s national drink is the Pisco Sour, although another solid toasting choice is Liberator´s Punch, with which Congress has been toasting independence ever since the Lima City Council set the tradition during the first swearing of independence.
3. Visit Kennedy Park to View the Exhibitions (Free- All Week)
Visit the always-lively Kennedy Park, which will fill up with vendors and special exhibits celebrating Peruvian heritage.
2. Take Advantage of Free Offers (Prices & Dates Vary)
Museums generally offer free or discounted admission on the days of the long weekend surrounding the holiday, so make sure to check what’s on offer!
1. Watch Marinera Dances and Peruvian Paso Horses at Hacienda Mamacona
Lima’s Hacienda Mamacona (actually located a little outside of the city, but offering buses to the locale) offers a Peruvian Paso horse show along with folk dances and Peruvian food. Last year, it took place on July 29th. It’s a scenic locale steeped in Peruvian traditions, so if you’ve got a little more to spend, pay them a visit. Just look up videos and illustrated brochures of the event, and call if you’d like to reserve.