Cajamarca, known as the capital of the Peruvian Carnival with the largest and most enthusiastic festivities in the country, celebrates its famous Carnaval de Cajamarca in 2019 from March 2 to 6.
The celebrations are full of joy and colors, lots of music and special carnival songs, dancing and water fights. The main action during the 5 days of celebration takes place at and around the Plaza de Armas (main square) of Cajamarca and festivities follow a traditional schedule.
March 2, 2019 (Saturday)
The carnival in Cajamarca begins on Saturday when Rey Momo, the Carnival King, who is also named Ño Carnavalón, enters the city. For the next few days he rules over the carnival parades and symbolizes the time of fun and craziness. Saturday is also the “Paint Day”, where people paint each other with water, flour and paint. So expect to get wet and colored as everything else in the city.
March 3, 2019 (Sunday)
The Sunday parade (“Concurso de Patrullas y Comparsas”) is probably the most important part of the carnival in Cajamarca as it celebrates Peru’s unique culture and tradition. Expect musicians and dancers in colorful costumes presenting traditional music and dances and young and old on the streets. In preparation for the main festivities the next day, Cajamarca is quiet in the evening.
March 4, 2019 (Monday)
Carnival Monday is the main day of celebrations. The “Gran Corso de Carnaval”, a huge parade consisting of colorful floats, music bands, dancers and other performers all dressed in their best costumes and masks, takes place on Cajamarca’s main streets. After the parade the celebrations continue at the Plaza de Armas with typical carnival traditions such as the “unsha”, the cutting down a tree which is decorated with gifts, colorful ribbons and balloons.
March 5, 2019 (Tuesday)
On Tuesday the death of the Carnival King (Ño Carnavalón) is mourned. People dress in black, weep bitterly at his coffin and keep a wake with traditional food, liquor and cigars.
March 6, 2019 (Wednesday)
On Ash Wednesday the burial of Ño Carnavalón takes place at the Baños del Inca. Before he is burned, his testament which is filled with sarcastic and picaresque comments aimed at authorities and personalities is read. The Carnival in Cajamarca ends with traditional dances.
Find more information about carnival traditions in our article "Carnival in Peru"