Peru is one of the most festive and beautiful places to celebrate Christmas in South America. This amazing country is rich in holiday traditions and Christmas time is no exception! We’ve outlined some fantastic tips and facts about spending the holidays in Peru.
1. Whereas much of the world celebrates Christmas on Christmas Day, Peru celebrates on Christmas Eve, or La Noche Buena. It’s a day full of family gatherings, good food, and religious tradition. The festivities officially begin in the evening of the 24th when families attend the misa de gallo, a special Christmas mass that begins at 10pm. After mass everyone returns home for what will be a long night of celebrations with family and friends.
2. Not just for Italians, Peruvians love panetón, a sweet bread filled with raisins and candied fruits. There is also a traditional Christmas cocktail called Cocktail de Algarrobina which is similar to eggnog but made with the traditional Peruvian liquor, Pisco.
Cocktail de Algarrobina
3. At the stroke of midnight, Peruvians dig into a Christmas feast of turkey, chicken or pork, tamales, and applesauce with close friends and family while fireworks ignite across the skies. Gifts are exchanged after dinner and then sleepy kids are put to bed while the adults dance the night away with friends and family. For this reason, Christmas day is usually quiet in Peru with many sleeping in and resting from an eventful night prior.
Traditional Panetón, a Peruvian favorite
4. For those who desire Christmas on the beach, Trujillo is the perfect Peru destination. Located on the northern coast of Peru, Trujillo is home to beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture, a thriving culinary scene, and relaxing beach vibes. The Plaza de Armas is sure to be dressed for the season and the wide range of top-notch restaurants will provide tourists with a variety of Christmas dinner dining options. Spend Christmas Day on the beach soaking up the bountiful surf and sunshine.
Christmas on the beach in Trujillo
5. For a taste of Andean Christmas tradition, head to Cusco. There travelers will find a popular traditional Christmas market called Santuranticuy. Artisans from Cusco’s San Blas neighborhood and across Southern Peru gather in the Plaza de Armas to sell handcrafted Christmas art and figurines, as well as raw materials like moss, straw, and grass for nativity scenes. Stroll this magnificent spectacle with a sweet rum punch or hot chocolate in hand and take home a Christmas souvenir.
6. Along with Cusco, Puno is another great option for travelers looking to experience a truly traditional Peruvian Christmas. Known as the folklore capital of Peru, Puno is to be counted on for a full-on festival atmosphere. Expect all of the fanfare of one of their infamous festivals set to the stunning backdrop of Lake Titicaca. Go to mass in one of Puno’s quaint colonial churches as they reverberate with the sounds of the angelic Christmas choirs and sit down to an Andean-style Christmas feast where roasted guinea pig and alpaca are sure to be on the menu.
Christmas decor in Cusco
7. For a more modern Christmas with plenty of familiar décor, Lima is the best bet. The streets and city plazas will be decked out in Christmas cheer, even with the summer-like temperatures of Lima this time of year. Lima is a great Christmas destination for a family trip to Peru. There are plenty of fun activities for the whole family, including ice-skating at Iceland Park in the district of Jesus Maria.
Christmas Tree in a square in Lima