See Candelaria Festival: Peru's Biggest Festival


Cited as the second biggest party in South America after the Rio Carnival, The Le Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria (Cinderella Festival) is Peru’s biggest festival. The two weeks festival takes place 40 days after Christmas, in honour of the virgin Maria of the Candelaria. It celebrates how a vision of the virgin Maria warned Peruvian miners that an enemy army was approaching. The festival is a mixture of spiritual and cultural celebration of Peru’s history and traditions.

The Catholic festival began back in the 19 century and attacts visitors and performers from all over the country (as far as Arequipa, Lusco and the capital Lima) to the banks of Lake TiTicaca.  Around the lake is a hive of activities during the festival for a marathon two weeks of activities.  Located at 3,800m above sea level, it’s the highest lake in the world. Incas saw the  lake as a source of life; according to their mythology the god Viracocha rose from it to create the sun, stars and the first humans.

The Candelaria Festival is a main calendar event attracting dancers and musicians, young and old performing in front of 20,000 or more.  The festival is made up of groups representing different neighbourhoods.  Group perform in different sizes; some with 100 members and up to 600 strong.  Costume inspiration is taken from nature and historical events.  Some Peruvians spend a whole year rehearsing  and an entire month’s wages preparing the costume.

Lake TiTicaca has its own activities; while there you can visit Taquile Island which is a boat ride from Puno.  Taquile Island gives you a real taste remote Peru. Unos floating islands are another attraction; they are occupied by the Unos Tribe, which predates the Incas.  The islands are made from Tortora reeds, it is said they moved onto the lake to avoid confrontation with the mainland. You can also take part in Paro a la teirra (payment to the Earth ceremony).