When is Peru’s Independence Day?
The Peru Independence Day, also known as Fiestas Patrias, is celebrated on July 28th every year in Peru. This day commemorates the liberation of Peru from Spain by José de San Martin. On July 29th, the establishment of the Republic of Peru is celebrated.
The combination of the two days is behind only Christmas and Easter as the most important holiday in Peru. Schools and most businesses are closed for the holiday celebrations.
History of the War for Peru Independence
In the 15th century, the Spanish colonized the territory of Peru and acquired the Inca Atahualpa. Within three years the Spanish established Lima, which was the main location for their administrative, political, and religious work.
Despite the wars of independence being fought across Latin America in the early 19th century, Peru remained loyal to the Spanish crown. Peru, and particularly Lima, was for royalists and one of the last Spanish-ruled territories in South America to declare its independence.
In the early 1800s, two liberators were making their way across South America fighting for independence from Spain. José de San Martín made his way from the south, while Simon Bolivar made his way to Peru from the north.
José de San Martín, of modern Argentina to Spanish parents returned to Buenos Aires in 1811 to fight for the colonies’ independence from Spain. He organized his army and in 1817 led 5,000 men through the Andes peaks to invade and free Chile.
After securing Chilean independence, with a fleet commanded by the adventurous Lord Cochrane, he invaded Peru and declared independence in Lima in 1821, with himself as a dictator.
Meanwhile, however, Simon Bolivar was working his way up from the north liberating Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador from Spain.
Despite royalist opposition, José de San Martín occupied Lima on July 12, 1821. In front of a crowd in Lima’s Plaza de Armas, San Martín declared Peru’s independence on July 28, 1821.
But liberation from Spain needed three more years of battles. The two generals met at Guayaquil in Ecuador in 1822. They met in secret, but it is thought that San Martín offered to serve under Bolivar. The offer was refused and San Martín, unwilling to endanger the cause resigned and left Bolivar in command. Bolivar then led his army in two key battles in the Andes- the battle of Junín and the battle of Ayacucho, assisted by the forces of Bolivia’s General José de Sucre.
The South American armies of independence won those battles and as a result, Peru, Spain’s most important colony, was the last colony to be freed from Spain.
Fiestas Patrias Celebration in Peru
July 28th marks the start of the Peru Independence celebration also known as Fiestas Patrias.
The party starts on July 25th in Arequipa on St. James Day. It begins with the feast of St. James, also known as Santiago. Arequipa is in the southern Andes is at the heart of the Criollo culture and prides itself as the original home of the Independence movement.
The day before, July 27th, Lima is filled will Creole music and parties. The beginning of the celebration starts in Parque de la Muralla, where Peruvian music and dance take place, including traditional Peruvian music to modern rock and reggaeton. At midnight a fireworks display begins followed by a 3D light show at the Fantasia Fountain in Centro de Lima.
On July 28th, the morning begins with a 21 cannon salute in Lima, then a flag-raising ceremony, followed by a Te Deum mass by the Archbishop of Lima. The President of Peru attends the mass, after which he gives his official address to the nation. If it is an election year, the president is sworn in before the address.
The following day is also considered a national holiday. July 29th is used to honor the Armed Forces and National Police of Peru. The Gran Parada Militar del Perú (the Great Military Parade) takes place in Lima, attended by the President.
Representatives of every portion of Peru’s armed forces are present. The parade includes planes, helicopters, artillery, tanks, elite special forces squadrons, ceremonial guards, and indigenous self-defense militias. It is attended by the Peruvian President, who ceremonially gives permission for the parade to the commander of the Lima Garrison before it commences.
On this day in several areas of the country, Peruvians hold agricultural fairs (Cajamarca, Piura, Monsefú) with three festivals celebrating the heart of Creole culture: cockfighting, bullfighting, and Peruvian paso horse shows.
Traveling on the Peru Independence Day
Both July 28th and 29th are national holidays. The Peruvian government tries to encourage tourism amongst its citizens. Therefore they often declare an extra holiday the day before or after Fiestas Patrias.
Because of this, if you are traveling in or to Peru around the end of July you should keep this in mind as most shops close and many services tend to be unavailable. However, travel services tend to remain in operation during that time, however, be prepared for ticket prices to increase.
We would also recommend arranging hotels well ahead of time if you plan to be traveling around this time. Banks and government offices close during the national holiday, so be sure you have converted all your money to soles before July 28th.
¡Felices Fiestas Patrias!