Carnival in Puno

The pulsating heart of Peru’s carnival


Get out your costume, be a princess, a cowboy or a vampire: its carnival time in Peru! The main celebrations are in the beginning of February. This colorful cultural festival is centered around music and dance performances. But there are a lot of other activities around it as well. Go to Puno and participate in the biggest Peruvian celebrations of the Carnival!


Why go to the carnival in Puno

The celebrations in Puno are the 3rd biggest in South America. After the world-famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival and Oruro (Bolivia), the festivities in Puno are definitely worth a visit. On the shores of the Titicaca Lake, you will find a mixture between street parades, folkloric dances, water fights, alcohol and beautiful costumes.

The parades in Puno in the beginning of February. In 2014 the carnival in Puno was declared as  Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO. It is often referred to as the folkloric heart of Peru. Many dancing and folkloric groups come here together every February, to honour the Virgen de la Candelaria (the Saint Virgen). A great insight into cultural and historical Peruvian rites and traditions.

The celebrations are a mixture between ancient indigenous traditions and rituals on the one hand, and customs and traditions brought in by the Spanish conquistadores on the other hand. The exact program of this years’ celebrations you can find on this website (in Spanish).

Street parades

Carnival is being celebrated with colorful outdoor street parades in Puno. Some of the parades start already early in the morning. But most of the festivities start in the afternoon and can last well into the night. Many teenagers and adults are part of local dance clubs, and each club has its own clothing traditions and costumes. Folkloric and modern dance outfits intertwine and fill up the streets in Puno. The dancers are coming from all over Peru to represent their city in mind-blowing colorful costumes and masks.  The dancers can perform up to 8 hours through the streets of Puno! Every dance group has its own band.


What to eat and drink & other activities

During this outside event there is of course a lot of street food. As delicious as it may seem, you will have to be a bit careful with what you eat as a foreigner. Our stomachs can have difficulties with street food, and Carnival is not a good time to get sick. So, play safe!
There is always a lot of chicken and potatoes included. For vegetarians it can be difficult to find some good options.
Puno has the highest consumption of beer in Peru, and that surely shows during Carnival. Next to beer, you will find also the traditional corn drink, the Chicha, and of course Pisco.
While enjoying your drinks and your food, you just might bombed with some water balloons though! During Carnival time in Peru, water fights are pretty common. Next to the water balloons, there will be water guns, and sometimes even water buckets! A plastic bag for your smartphone might be a good idea… Always watch your belongings, and don’t take too many valuables to the street, as thieves are unfortunately also present in Puno.

carnival in Puno

Combine your Carnival experience with a visit to the Titicaca Lake. The floating Islands are very touristic, but it can be up to your liking. The festivities in Peru start around the beginning of February. Prices for rooms will rise and it will be fully booked.
Even if you are not a dancer, you will participate in this one. The costumes and colors, the music and dance performance, the smiles and the energy. When you are in Peru around the beginning of February, make sure to visit the Carnival in Puno!