Peru Independence Day: A Guide to Celebrations and History

Last updated on June 10th, 2024 at 09:59 am

Remitly has made it easy for Peruvians to send money to loved ones back home. And this year, we wish our Peruvian customers, friends, and employees a very happy Independence Day!

July 28 is Peru’s Independence Day, one of the most important national holidays in Peruvian communities worldwide.

The day commemorates Peru’s independence from the Spanish empire by José de San Martín. The following day, July 29, celebrates the establishment of the Republic of Peru. The two days together make up what Peruvians call Las Fiestas Patrias—a weekend that the entire country loves to celebrate.

A Brief History of Peruvian Independence Day

The Spanish first colonized Peru in the 15th century. Even though many other countries in Central and South America were fighting for their independence in the early 19th century, Peru remained loyal to the Spanish government and completely under Spanish power. Peru, particularly its capital, Lima, was a stronghold for royalists.

In 1821, the Viceroy of Peru initiated a military campaign against Chile and its fight for independence. The movement gained little backing, nationally or internationally, and ended with Argentina and Chile signing a treaty to pursue the liberation of Peru.

Argentinian commander De San Martín entered Lima’s Plaza de Armas on July 28, 1821, and issued the Declaration of Independence.

However, independence wasn’t fully achieved until 1824, when Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martín won a decisive victory over the Spanish forces at the Battle of Ayacucho. Antonio Jose de Sucre, one of Bolivar’s finest lieutenants, led a combined force of Peruvians, Chileans, Colombians, and Argentinians to defeat the royalist army and secure lasting independence for Peru.

Peru’s Independence Day is the equivalent of the mid-September Fiestas Patrias celebration in Chile, which marks the day Chile began fighting for independence from Spain.

6 Facts About Peru Independence Day Celebrations

Learn a little more about how people usually celebrate Peruvian Independence Day:

1. Celebrations start the night before.

On the eve before July 28, streets will fill with criollo music and small parties. The Peruvian flag will proudly fly from nearly every building across every city in the country. In Lima, the official celebration starts the night before in Parque de la Muralla, where a variety of Peruvian music is played on the streets.

Peru Independence Day

2. The festivals include fireworks and dancing.

Official fireworks begin at midnight on July 28, along with a well-known 3D light show at the Fantasia Fountain in the center of Lima.

Festival attendees can gather outside to listen to a wide variety of music, including traditional folkloric and Afro-Peruvian songs, as well as modern rock and reggaeton.

3. The president of Peru’s speech is the main event.

The official main event of Peru Independence Day is the president’s speech, delivered in the Plaza De Armas.

He will go over the state of the nation and the progress made during the preceding year. The speech is followed by a “Te Deum” mass led by the Archbishop of Lima.

4. There are events at every plaza.

Almost every plaza in the nation will feature traditional dances and music and serve all sorts of food and drinks.

5. You can sample traditional Peruvian cuisine.

There will be even more food carts and vendors on the street than usual, so you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy authentic Peruvian cuisine.

Options include anticucho, papas rellenas, chicarron, and ceviche. And be sure to try a drink with pisco, one of the country’s most famous liqueurs.

6. Second-day celebrations are very patriotic.

On July 28, patriotic celebrations begin with 21-gun salutes across the country and a flag-raising ceremony in Lima.

The second day of the holiday focuses on celebrating the Peruvian Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru. Peruvian people mark the day with The Great Military Parade in Lima. The annual military parades include members of all three branches of the Peruvian military plus members of the National Police force.

Celebrating Peruvian Independence Day in Peru

If you’re planning to visit Peru for Independence Day or are currently living there, read on to learn where to travel and for tips on how to best enjoy the experience.

Where to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day in Peru

If you want to be a part of the national events celebrating the independence of Peru, the capital city of Lima is the place to be. As previously mentioned, it’s the site of the official mass, the president’s address, and a large military parade.

Lima isn’t the only place where you can join in on the festivities. Nearly every city and town celebrates in some way.

The former capital of Peru, Arequipa, holds a very large celebration. If you can plan an extended trip, arrive in the city in time for the Virgen del Carmen Festival, which usually takes place on July 16. During the event, indigenous people perform a traditional dance symbolizing their struggle against the Spanish.

Cusco kicks off Peruvian Independence Day with traditional dance performances representing all the local ethnic groups surrounding the city. There is also a large food festival and military parade in the city. While you’re in Cusco, you can also arrange a trip to Machu Picchu to learn about the rich history of the Incan people.

In the beautiful mountain city of Puno, the festivities include a mass and a military parade. One unique feature of the celebrations is the March of the Flags on Lake Titicaca. During the event, local women dressed in traditional clothing row rafts called totoras around the lake, hanging up flags.

Travel tips for Peruvian Independence Day

To have an enjoyable trip on a budget, follow these tips:

  • Book accommodations early: Hotels and Airbnb fill up quickly due to the holiday, so find a place to stay and secure reservations as soon as possible.
  • Arrange for transportation in advance: Just like hotels, trains sell out space quickly. If you need to travel via PeruRail to attend a celebration, don’t wait until you arrive to buy tickets. The same holds for car rentals.
  • Comparison shop for airfare: Since many people travel to Peru to celebrate the holiday, airfare is often more expensive than the rest of the year. Shop around to find the best deal. Arriving and departing before and after the days surrounding Independence Day can also help you save money. Check our guide on how to get deals on international flights for more savings tips.
  • Learn some Spanish before you travel: Spanish is the official language of Peru and is spoken by nearly 83% of the population. While you can find some English speakers in tourist areas in Lima and Cusco, many people you encounter won’t speak the language, so it’s important that you know some basic phrases.

Peruvian Independence Day celebrations in the U.S.

Around 679,000 Peruvian-Americans live in the U.S., making them the 11th largest group of immigrants from Latin America. Many of them continue to celebrate Fiestas Patrias while residing in the U.S., which has led to several large Peruvian Independence Day celebrations in the U.S. Here are some of the most well-known ones you can attend.

Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias

Held every year in Seattle, the Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias event celebrates Peruvian Independence Day, as well as the independence day holidays of other countries in Latin America, such as La Paz Day in Bolivia. The event includes musical performances, folk dancing, and a food festival.

Peruvian Parade NYC

Peruvian Americans in the New York City metro area typically organize an annual parade celebrating Peruvian Independence Day. In 2022, the event occurred in the Little Lima neighborhood of Paterson, New Jersey. Details about the 2023 celebration have yet to be released as of May 2023.

Y Se Llama Perú Festival

A newer event launched in 2021, the Y Se Llama Perú is a concert and festival in honor of Peruvian Independence Day in North Miami Beach, Florida. Details for the 2023 event have yet to be released as of May 2023.

Festival Purano

Each year, Longmont, Colorado, hosts Festival Purano in honor of the independence of Peru. The event organized by Peruvians of Northern Colorado includes traditional Peruvian foods, music, and dancing. Dates for 2023 have yet to be announced as of May 2023.

More about Peru

Travel to Peru often starts with a visit to Cusco, the historic Incan capital nestled in the breathtaking Andes Mountains. Many also trek to Arequipa, known as “The White City,” to take in the stunning colonial architecture.

And, of course, Peru is known for Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca citadel located on a mountain ridge in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. There is much to learn about the Incan empire, which included Peru, western and south-central Bolivia, and parts of Ecuador and Chile.

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