Fiestas Patrias, Peru’s National Holidays, are probably the most important and most enthusiastically celebrated event of the year in Peru.
While the official holidays last 2 days - July 28 to commemorate the declaration of independence from Spanish rule on July 28, 1821 and July 29 to honor the Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police of Peru - Peruvians actually celebrate the entire month of July.
Across the country there are special Fiestas Patrias events, concerts, cultural activities, fairs, parades, parties, special offers and discounts during July and cities and buildings are covered in the Peruvian national colors red and white.
While this is often explained with the ardent love of Peruvians for their country, it’s only half the truth. Yes, Peruvians are patriotic, but hissing the national flag on every home, public and private building, and business during the month of July as well is mandatory by Peruvian law and some municipalities even fine their citizens if they don’t obey this law.
Especially in the second half of July, that coincide with winter school holidays, Peruvians travel across the country to visit family and friends and celebrate Fiestas Patrias together. Flights, buses and hotels are often booked weeks in advance and prices skyrocket.
Official celebrations for Fiestas Patrias
It is tradition that the major celebrations for Peru’s Independence already start on the evening of July 27, with concerts and cultural activities across plazas and parks in Peru organized by the different municipalities across the country.
In Lima the Great Serenade, known as Lima Salutes the Nation, is organized with life performances of folk, creole and even modern rock bands, dance presentations and other cultural activities at Parque de la Muralla behind the Government Palace in the historic city center. The evening ends at midnight with fireworks.
Official celebrations in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence on July 28
The official Fiestas Patrias festivities on July 28 and 29 of course take place in Lima as capital of Peru.
The actual Independence Day is started with a 21-cannon salute and a flag-raising ceremony in the Peruvian capital Lima at dawn. At around 09.00 am the Archbishop of Lima celebrates the Mass of Te Deum in the Cathedral of Lima which is attended by the President of Peru as Head of State and other important Peruvian politicians and figures.
Later that morning, representatives of the Peruvian Congress visit the President at the Government Palace and invite him to give his traditional 28 de Julio Address to the Nation at the Peruvian Congress. On his way there the President is cheered at by thousands of Peruvians who line the streets.
After being greeted by the Commander-in-Chief of the military at the entrance of the Congress building, the President heads to the main hall where he gives a quite patriotic speech reporting on the progress and of course achievements of the state during the past 12 months.
After his Address to the Nation the President returns to the Government Palace once again accompanied by the cheers and praises of Peruvians along the route.
By the way, if a new president was elected, he is sworn in and takes office on July 28 and consequently presents his first Address to the Nation that day.
Official celebrations in honor of the Armed Forces and National Police on July 29
On July 29, the official celebrations continue in Lima with the Great Military Parade of Peru.
Presided over by the President and viewed by his family, members of the Council of Ministers and the Congress of Peru, other civil officials, religious leaders, the Diplomatic Corps of Peru, invited officers, high-ranking personnel of the Armed Forces and the National Police, other invited guests and a huge crowd, the Peruvian Armed Forces (Navy, Army, Air Force, Special Forces) and the National Police of Peru show off their lovely uniforms, battle dresses and sparkling medals, marching capacities, musical talents and of course their “toys” including all sorts of guns, artillery, trucks, tanks and planes.
In the last years the Great Military Parade was held along 30 blocks of the Av. Brazil and started at 10.00 am in the district of Breña. If you want to watch the spectacle, be there early as it gets crowded quickly. If you can live without the crowds, but still would love to watch: the parade is broadcasted live on national TV.
Fiestas Patrias celebrations in Peru
While Lima hosts the official celebrations and lots of other festivities on July 28 and 29, outside the Peruvian capital cities and communities don’t celebrate any less enthusiastically.
The celebrations for Peru’s independence here are often combined with local customs and indigenous traditions and include parades and processions, street parties, live music and dance, fairs, all sorts of activities for the whole family, lots of great Peruvian food and Pisco, and fireworks.