Experience one of the most remarkable religious celebrations in South America
Foto: (Daniel Osorio)
Undoubtedly one of the best destinations to visit in Peru during Holy Week is Ayacucho. During this time, travelers will observe, enjoy, and be part of the religious and Andean celebration.
The celebration takes place in Ayacucho over ten days and is like no other. Everyone participates and they represent the passion and death of Christ on Calvary. This is the most famous celebration of Holy Week in the whole country, despite the fact that it is actually Spanish in origin. Year after year thousands of foreign and Peruvian tourists are part of this wonderful party.
The celebration was introduced to Ayacucho with the arrival of the Spaniards to Peru, specifically the Spaniards from Seville. Even after Peru’s Independence, the tradition has lived on, picking up more and more Andean aspects over time.
Holy Week begins on Friday of Pain and ends on Easter Sunday. During these days there are hundreds of processions, folk dances, parties, textile and livestock fairs, among other activities.
Friday of Pain: On this day there is a procession of the Sorrowful Virgin. It is the most popular procession and one of the most traditional.
Saturday of Passion: The Procession of the Lord of the Vine is carried out from the Church of Pampa San Agustín.
Palm Sunday: In the morning the famous cathedral of Ayacucho, one of the most beautiful in Peru, is blessed. Then, in the afternoon, the “chamizo” enters the Plaza de Armas with mules dressed in different colors and decorated with silver.
Holy Monday: Monday and Tuesday are the days with fewer activities. There is a procession at night that carries the image of Jesus from the Garden.
Holy Tuesday: There is also a procession that takes Jesus into the night.
Holy Wednesday: From the Church of Santa Clara comes the image of Jesus of Nazareth recalling the road to Calvary and where he meets his mother. The procession is called “Procession of the Encounter.” Everyone carries candles and the street lighting is turned off.
Holy Thursday: All temples in the city are prepared and ready for the visit of locals and tourists. The most visited are: San Juan de Dios, San Francisco, La Merced, The Company of Jesus, San Francisco de Paula, the Cathedral and the Temple of Santo Domingo. Likewise, the clergy renew their promise in front the bishops.
Good Friday: There is a procession on the night of the Holy Sepulcher that comes out of Santo Domingo, the second most important temple in Ayacucho. There are different fairs during the day. The population is not far behind and they assemble some beautiful carpets in the square beginning in the early morning hours.
Saturday of Glory: This is a holiday in Ayacucho and there is a lot of celebration. Popular festivities are held, cockfighting, the barter fair called Pascua Toro and different fairs in different places. The “Morochucos”, the well-known cowboys of the plains of the Andes, also go out to the street.
Easter Sunday: Mass is celebrated at 4 o’clock in the morning. The “Procession of the Dawn” takes place in the morning with the Lord of the Resurrection and in the afternoon the Morochucos depart again in a horse race.
We recommend this trip to be done in about three days, specially Good Friday, Saturday of Glory and Easter Sunday. These days are the most representative ones and travelers will be part and observe the amazing Andean culture and the magic of this celebration in Ayacucho.
We recommend to combine this trip with other destinations such as Paracas or Arequipa. If passengers have enough time, we encourage them to jump into a car trip where they will have the opportunity to get to know the most beautiful views of deep Peru while they travel by car. Otherwise, they can always take a plane and go into their next destination while they travel Peru.