If you are looking for something different for your Christmas holidays this year, a Christmas holiday in Peru could be perfect for you! Christmas in Peru, as in other South American countries, is a unique experience. It’s probably very different from what you’re used to, with lots of new things to see and do!
Christmas in Cusco:
In the days leading up to Christmas, the beautiful city of Cusco will become the vibrant center of celebrations for both tourists and Andean people, who maintain many traditions and customs of the Quechua people. Cusco is an ideal place for travelers with an impressive infrastructure of hotels, cafes, restaurants and others. Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit of Cusco and enjoy a magical Christmas in Peru with our 19 things to do for Christmas in Cusco.
Participate in a Peruvian cooking workshop.
By learning the famous Peruvian cuisine in a cooking workshop. You will visit the local market and learn how to prepare typical Peruvian Christmas sweets and snacks. Preview your Christmas dinner party and maybe even impress your friends with your new cooking skills!
Get a picture with a llama at Christmas!
This is a very touristy thing to do, you may have to pay for this, but this photo may be one of your favorite memories! Featuring Alinda Llama, a beautiful local girl in bright traditional dresses and a backdrop of amazing Inca stones, this photo will be a special reminder of your Christmas holidays in Peru. It is also the closest thing to a reindeer in Cusco.
Explore the city of Cusco and its surroundings.
Most of our excursions normally run during the holidays. Check out our tours in Cusco including the Cusco city tour, the Sacred Valley of the Incas tour and excursions or train trips to Machupicchu.
Share some chocolate and a smile.
A typical Cusco Christmas tradition is a chocolatada that invites people from the surrounding local communities, especially their children, to share a cup of hot chocolate, a panettone and a toy to celebrate Christmas. These chocolates, intended to provide a party to less fortunate families, take place in various areas of Cusco.
If you are interested in joining us for this event or would like to make a donation please contact us (at least two weeks before Christmas). It would be a pleasure to have you participating in the Dos Manos chocolate!
Review your agenda carefully.
Don’t forget that the main celebration is Christmas Eve, December 24, (not the 25th). The night of the 24th is called Christmas Eve and it is when the main festivities are celebrated. On Christmas Day, December 25, the city will be quite deserted, as most people celebrate with their families at home.
Watch the fireworks
At midnight the city of Cusco will light up with fireworks! Thousands of people and tourists will gather in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco to enjoy these incredible fireworks. This fireworks show will also take place on New Year’s Eve.
Enjoy amazing Peruvian Christmas food!
Like many other countries, most local people have a big, juicy turkey for Christmas dinner in Peru. The turkey will be seasoned with typical Peruvian seasonings, some even injected portions of wine into their turkeys.
A popular alternative to turkey is a typical roasted Peruvian pig, called lechón. This is served with a tamale, which is a steamed corn flour dough, wrapped in banana leaves and filled with chicken, peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, olives and pieces of chili.
Visit the colorful Christmas markets!
The days before Christmas in Cusco are fun and busy with the city full of small Christmas markets. People are out buying gifts for their friends and relatives, eating sweets and breads, and buying Christmas decorations such as textiles, incense, candles, and ceramics.
Beautiful Christmas scene on Instagram!
Christmas scenes are very common in Peru and you will see them all over Cusco, in the streets, squares and inside buildings. A typical Christmas scene includes the main elements of the birth of Jesus: Figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, animals, angels and wise men. Other Christmas decorations are also often included. Approximately 90% of Peru’s population is Catholic, so nativity scenes are an important part of Peruvian Christmas.
Make your dreams come true: Visit Machupicchu on Christmas Day!
Being one of the Wonders of the World, Machupicchu is an incredible tourist attraction that Peru offers. What a great way to celebrate Christmas or ring in the New Year with a visit to this amazing place! This charming archaeological site will allow you to pause and reflect on the year and spend some time in the glorious mountains of Peru.
Enjoy the South American summer.|
In South America you won’t find snow, winter vests or the bite of the cold during Christmas. Summer has just begun! This warm weather will be especially evident if you spend a couple of days on the Peruvian coast, where you will surely notice the high temperatures and summer atmosphere.
Buy a saint at the famous “Santurantikuy Navideño” fair
On December 24, artisans from all over Peru will gather at the various and charming Christmas markets of Peru. It’s magical… “Santurantikuy” Christmas Fair.
Being a tradition for over 5000 years, this market is perfect to take some time to relax and explore the colorful stalls, while sipping a hot chocolate. The word “Santurantikuy” means the sale of saints, which is why this market is called as such. This could be the ideal place to buy a last-minute souvenir or Christmas gift. The fair is open from early in the morning and runs into the evening until Christmas Eve.
Attend the “Misa del Gallo”
The Cathedral Basilica of Cusco will open its enormous doors for a beautiful Christmas mass on the night of December 24. This Christmas Eve Mass or Midnight Mass begins around 10 p.m. and lasts approximately 1 and a half hours. Peruvians who attend this mass return home for a midnight gift exchange, a Peruvian Christmas tradition. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, attending this mass is a cultural experience of a lifetime.
Enjoy a warm Peruvian comfort drink: Ponche.
Since you’re staying on Christmas Eve to watch the fireworks, you may need a nice, warm drink to keep warm. Try the ponche, it is a typical Peruvian drink that contains milk, egg, cinnamon, cloves and airampo, which is an Andean fruit that gives color. This drink is sweet and served hot making it the perfect drink for your Christmas Eve celebration. The Ponche is also served with Pisco added for those who want an alcoholic version of this Peruvian drink.
Find the perfect place to experience Christmas Eve.
Magnificent decoration with Christmas scenes and fireworks will be exhibited in the Colonial Center of Cusco. The best way to see this is from one of the many balconies that line the main square. Whether with dinner, a pisco sour, or hot chocolate, you can observe the beautiful Christmas and New Year holidays from a higher point of view.
Go on a hike to Machupicchu.
We organize several cultural exchanges with indigenous communities, as well as hikes to Machupicchu during the festive season. Hiking to Machupicchu is a very special endeavor, where you will experience beautiful nature and a time to meditate without distractions making your time in Cusco truly memorable.
Are you still in Peru for New Year’s Eve? If so, there are some unique activities that will make your New Year’s celebration an unforgettable experience.
Part of the tradition on New Year’s Eve in Cusco is to wear yellow clothing, which is supposed to bring good luck. In fact after the New Year celebration, Cusco will transform into a city decorated in all things yellow, from balloons, ribbon and flowers.
Attend the plaza for New Year’s Eve.
This is an absolute necessity. The plaza starts to fill up early with people, so it’s important to scope out a spot before it gets too busy. On this night Peruvians traditionally eat 12 grapes while waiting for midnight. When the Plaza de Armas explodes with electrifying joy, hugs, music and Cusco’s famous fireworks show.
Experiencing Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Cusco will be an unforgettable experience. You will have the opportunity to spend the holiday season in a different culture and participate in the various traditions observed in Peru. With all the fun activities, delicious food and drinks and incredible fireworks, spending Christmas time in Peru will provide you with memories to last a lifetime!