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A Vibrant Fiesta: Celebrating New Year in Peru

At New Year’s Eve, the air in Peru becomes charged with excitement and joy as people from diverse backgrounds come together to ring in the New Year. Peru, with its rich cultural tapestry, has unique traditions, breathtaking celebrations, and mouthwatering culinary delights that make its New Year festivities truly one-of-a-kind. In this blog post, we will explore the vibrant and diverse ways in which Peru welcomes the New Year, from traditional customs to breathtaking celebrations at iconic locations like Machu Picchu.

Key Takeaways

  • The Peruvian New Year is steeped in age-old traditions that bring communities together
  • While celebrating in cities is undoubtedly exciting, some opt for a more mystical experience at one of the world’s wonders—Machu Picchu

Peruvian New Year Traditions

party in peru

The Peruvian New Year is steeped in age-old traditions that bring communities together. Here are some of them:

Año Nuevo Rituals

The Peruvian New Year is steeped in age-old traditions that bring communities together. One common tradition is the “Año Nuevo” ritual, where Peruvians write down their wishes for the upcoming year and burn them at midnight. This symbolic act is believed to send these aspirations to the heavens, ensuring good fortune.

Yellow Underwear for Prosperity

In Peru, wearing yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve is considered a harbinger of prosperity and good luck. Markets and shops are filled with an array of yellow undergarments in the days leading up to the New Year, as Peruvians eagerly prepare for this unique tradition.

12 Grapes at Midnight

As the clock strikes twelve, Peruvians partake in the Spanish-influenced tradition of eating 12 grapes, each one symbolizing a wish for the upcoming months. This sweet and juicy ritual is believed to bring luck and prosperity for each month of the new year.

Dancing and Music

No celebration in Peru is complete without vibrant music and dance. On New Year’s Eve, the streets come alive with lively traditional music, and people of all ages join in the festivities, dancing the night away in public squares and private gatherings.

Where to Celebrate New Year in Peru

houses on water lake titicaca

Peru offers a myriad of enchanting destinations that promise to usher in the new year with unparalleled excitement and joy. From the lively streets of Lima to the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu, each corner of this diverse country holds a unique celebration waiting to be discovered.

Plaza de Armas in Lima

Lima, the capital city, is a hub of New Year celebrations. The historic Plaza de Armas transforms into a lively spectacle with colorful lights, live music, and fireworks. Locals and tourists alike gather here to witness the stunning display and partake in the collective joy.

Cusco's Main Square

Cusco, with its Incan heritage, offers a unique New Year’s experience. The Main Square, or Plaza de Armas, is adorned with lights and decorations. The vibrant atmosphere, coupled with traditional dances and music, creates an unforgettable celebration.

Lake Titicaca

For a more tranquil celebration, the shores of Lake Titicaca offer a serene escape. Many Peruvians head to this picturesque location to welcome the New Year amidst nature’s beauty, with traditional rituals and bonfires adding to the enchantment.

Arequipa's Yanahuara Plaza

Arequipa’s Yanahuara Plaza is another hotspot for New Year celebrations. The colonial architecture provides a stunning backdrop for the festivities, and the local traditions, including the burning of effigies, add a unique flair to the event.

Machu Picchu

For those seeking adventure, hiking the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu for sunrise on New Year’s Day is an unforgettable experience. As the first rays of light illuminate the ancient citadel, it symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter, combining nature, history, and personal renewal in an extraordinary way.

New Year's Celebration on the Inca Trail Express: Exploring Machu Picchu

overhead view of machu picchu in peru

Are you craving an adventure that blends history, culture, and the awe-inspiring beauty of the Andean Mountains? If so, our Inca Trail Express for New Year’s might be the perfect journey for you. This two-day trek offers a more manageable alternative to the longer Inca Trail while still delivering an unforgettable experience, culminating in a New Year’s celebration amidst the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Day 1: Cuzco - Aguas Calientes, Peru - The Journey Begins

The adventure begins with an early morning pick-up from your accommodation in Cuzco at 3:45 – 4:00 am. A transfer will take you to the Ollantaytambo train station, where the journey to KM 104, the starting point of our trek, begins.

A 4-hour hike uphill awaits, leading you to the archaeological site of Wiñayhuayna (2,700m). Here, our knowledgeable guide will unravel the mysteries of the site, sharing insights into the rich culture and history. Following a well-deserved lunch, a short 10-minute hike will bring you to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate), offering breathtaking views of the magnificent Machu Picchu citadel.

As the day unfolds, a tourist-class bus will transfer you to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town), where you’ll spend the night, gearing up for the festivities of the New Year.

Day 2: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cuzco, Peru - New Year's Day Celebration

Wake up early on New Year’s Day and take a tourist-class bus back to Machu Picchu. A professional bilingual guide will lead you on a guided tour of this awe-inspiring archaeological site, revealing its rich history and cultural significance. After the tour, you’ll have free time to explore at your own pace, capturing the magic of Machu Picchu in photographs and absorbing its mystical ambiance.

For the adventurous souls, an optional hike to Huayna Picchu, a steep peak within the Machu Picchu site, awaits. This challenging ascent takes about 45 – 60 minutes but rewards you with unforgettable views of Machu Picchu from a unique vantage point. Keep in mind that passes for this optional hike are limited, and purchasing them in advance is essential.

After a day filled with exploration, take a tourist-class bus back to Aguas Calientes, where you can relax at internet cafes, enjoy board games in cafes, and shop in the local marketplace before catching the train back to Ollantaytambo. As the day winds down, you’ll be dropped off late in the day at Plaza San Francisco in Cuzco, marking the end of this remarkable New Year’s celebration on the Inca Trail Express.

Machu Picchu Guided Site Visit: A Journey Through History

Machu Picchu, the most spectacular archaeological site in South America, comes to life during a 2-hour guided tour. Your guide will walk you through the essential sites, providing a captivating narrative of its history. Following the tour, revel in free time to explore independently and capture the beauty of Machu Picchu.

For those seeking an extra thrill, the optional hike to Huayna Picchu offers a unique perspective of Machu Picchu. Remember to secure your pass in advance and relish the opportunity to witness the sunrise from this iconic peak.

As you bid farewell to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail Express, the memories of this New Year’s celebration in the heart of the Andean Mountains will linger, creating an indelible mark on your travel adventures.

Final Word

Peru’s New Year celebrations are a testament to the nation’s vibrant culture and the amalgamation of ancient customs with contemporary revelry. Whether you find yourself in the heart of Lima, the historical charm of Cusco, or amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of Machu Picchu, the warmth, and joy shared during this festive time create lasting memories. From traditional rituals to mouthwatering delicacies, the Peruvian New Year is an enchanting celebration that captures the essence of hope, unity, and the rich tapestry of this diverse nation. So, as the clock strikes midnight, let the echoes of Peruvian festivities inspire a year filled with prosperity, joy, and unforgettable experiences. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Check out Bamba Travel’s free itinerary to Machu Picchu below: