In 2013 Peru will celebrate, once again, a plethora of energetic and vibrant festivals across the nation, offering Australian travellers an abundance of opportunities to celebrate and discover the sights and sounds of true Peruvian culture first-hand.
First up is Peru's Marinera Festival in late January, which takes place in Trujillo, a striking city located in the lesser known northwest of the country. This energetic festival brings together national and international Marinera dancers of all ages and expertise who come to take part in various categories and street parades that take place during this prestigious competition. The event involves a great deal of dancing, eating, and learning how to attract your companion with a twitch of a handkerchief in your right hand. Trujillo is also off the tourist trail; making this festival the perfect opportunity for Aussie travellers to head to the northern sites to uncover more of Peru's hidden gems.
Only in Peru can you celebrate two national holidays a year dedicated to the one cocktail. The much loved, national drink with grape brandy brings locals and travellers together for Pisco Sour Day, held on every first Saturday of February, as well as on National Pisco Day, taking place on 27 July 2013. If you're lucky enough to be in Peru for Pisco Sour Day, then the best way to honour the famous cocktail is by visiting the capital city of Lima where the fountain in Plaza Mayor swaps water for Pisco, and some 2000Lt of Pisco spouts fresh into celebrating mouths all day long. If you're unable to get to Peru for this unique fiesta, then why not celebrate with homemade Pisco Sours in your own Aussie backyard to get in the spirit for a Peruvian adventure at a later date!
March marks the enigmatic and flamboyant festival, Carnival. This is a festival where the entire country comes alive with a colourful display of dance, elaborate costumes and unique masks. Festivities include weeks of water fights and handfuls of powder flying from one street to another. This is one event your photo album shouldn't be without.
La Vendimia, Peru's Wine Festival, takes place in the second week of March, in the geographically striking region of Ica. Located in the heart of Peru's wine region, this annual festival marks the celebration of grape harvest. The festival is a rich mix of elaborate floats, traditional music and dancing, and a wide selection of food and wine. The highlight of the festival day however is the election of the Festival Queen. Her crowning is eagerly anticipated and once she is selected, she hoists up her dress and begins treading the grapes along with everyone else - the spectacle is all part of the fun!
If you're looking for a festival longer than a day, and an adventurous challenge, then Qoyllur Rit'i or Snow Star Festival will be right for you. This three day pilgrimage through the Sinakara Valley in the Cusco Region of Peru is a 'hard core' cultural adventure festival, starting in late May and ending in early June. Many groups of people from the Andean zones of Peru and Bolivia walk several days until they arrive at the foot of the snow-covered Qoyllur Rit'i religious shrine. Along the way and at the end of the pilgrimage, you can enjoy local Peruvian foods such as the potato pachamancas or "watts", and appreciate traditional dances and costumes, such as the ukukus and Collas.
September is all about food. The Mistura Food Festival is a 10 day cultural feast in Peru's capital and gastronomic hub, Lima, starting on the 8 September. Gastronomic events take place around the world but this food fiesta puts Peru firmly on the culinary map. In 2012 the event saw over 600,000 people attend, including Australian chef Peter Gilmore, to indulge amongst hundreds of street food and restaurant stands. The festival is host to local farmers, chocolate markets, together with a special area dedicated to Pisco, the Peruvian national drink. The whole event will assault your every sense with an explosion of colours, flavours and catchy rhythms.
Other popular festivals include the Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun in Cusco on 24 June, Peru Art Week in Lima during May, and Easter in the beautiful Ayacucho for Semana Santa in April.
For more information on Peru and further festivals, please visit www.peru.travel