The Festival de Candelaria, also known as the Carnival of Puno, is a 2-week celebration at the beginning of February. Main days in 2019 are from February 2 (feast day of the Virgin) and February 3 as well as February 8 to February 11.
Celebrated in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the city of Puno, the Festival de la Candelaria or Carnival of Puno is a huge event merging Catholic traditions brought to Peru by the Spanish conquerors and age-old Andean customs, rites and symbols.
The core of the festival are the music and dance performances including the costume dances and other traditional dances of the Andean Altiplano of Peru presented by tens of thousands of dancers and musicians.
While there are numerous events and festivities from February 1 to February 17, 2019, the main celebrations are on the following days:
February 2, 2019 (Saturday)
This is the feast day of the Virgin of Candelaria and the main day of the festival. Early in the morning a mass is celebrated at the main square in Puno. Then celebrations and dancing continue the whole day. At 02.00 pm the famous Procession of the blessed Virgin of Candelaria (Procesión de la Santísima Virgen de la Candelaria) starts.
February 3, 2019 (Sunday)
In honor of the Virgin of Candelaria a regional dance contest is held which ends in a parade through Puno’s main streets. Expect lots of traditional music, dancing, colorful costumes and celebrations full of joy and fun.
February 8, 2019 (Friday)
The day of the Light Dance Festival, where smaller dance competitions are held in different neighborhoods and squares in Puno. At 06.00 pm music shows begin and the town is full of festivities.
February 9, 2019 (Saturday)
The day starts early at 05.00 am with the Masses of Albas at the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Candelaria which are attended by dancers, musicians and all those involved in the festivities. At 03.00 pm the dancers and music groups (without costumes) head to the city center where at 07.00 pm the “Vísperas de la Fiesta Octava” begins. Now in costumes the dancers and music groups pay homage to the Virgin in the streets of Puno. The day ends with huge fireworks.
February 10, 2019 (Sunday)
Today is the day of the “Gran Concurso de Trajes de Luces” (the Great Competition of the Costumes of Lights) at the Torres Belon Stadium in Puno taking place from 07:00 am to 05.00 pm. In the afternoon and evening some groups dance through the center of the city.
February 11, 2019 (Monday)
Puno once again is filled with music, dancing, colorful costumes and joy. On Monday morning the “Gran Veneracion a la Virgen de Candelaria” begins. Dancers and musician parade in veneration of the Virgin de Candelaria through the city of Puno.. Parades will continue in different destinations around Puno continue over the final few days. Then, to finish off the festival, awards will be given at the closing ceremony for the best dance groups.
The parades continue for the next three days in the north and south of the city. The following Sunday a closing ceremony is held and awards of the Regional Dance Contest Virgin of Candelaria are presented to the winners.