The Ayacucho Carnival is held in Ayacucho, Peru, a city recognized for its 33 Catholic churches, with each church representing a year in Jesus' life. The carnival celebrates the fertility of country life and typically happens every year in February or March and lasts for three days.
The carnival was declared by the National Institute of Culture of Peru (INC) as Cultural Patrimony of the Nation for its originality, authenticity, and proud representation of Andean creativity and culture. An estimated 15,000 domestic and foreign tourists attend the carnival each year.
The main days of the carnival are Sunday and Monday with a big parade full of vividly-decorated carts, vibrant dancers, energetic musicians, and colorful costumes and masks. It is an excellent time for tourists to come and experience the cultural festivities and sample local food such as the traditional “chicha de jora” and “puchero.”
The Ño Carnavalon, a large effigy said to represent the spirit of the carnival, is driven through the Plaza de Armas, making its grand entrance to the town square. The Plaza de Armas is a large square bordered by a 17th-century cathedral on one side and colonial buildings on the other three.
You can spot Ño Carnavalon by his large hat, colorful streamers, and distinct molasses bag. Every year, the carnival draws in residents of Ayacucho and the surrounding areas to form large groups of dancers and musicians who play instruments such as guitars, drums, flutes, and even accordions.
As many as 250 group members practice and perform their unique songs and show off their coordinated dance steps. They don traditional Andean costumes and parade around town, ending up in the Plaza de Armas where they are greeted by cheering crowds.
These groups of singers, musicians and dancers are known as comparsas and sing and dance with great energy as they thrill the crowds. As the comparsas leave, the streets are filled with these comparsas. They will dance and sing all night to the joy of the whole city.
On the second day, more comparsas gather in the streets of the city, dancing, and singing between streamers and talc. They will sing songs in Quechua and Spanish.
On the final and biggest day, the comparsas are still dancing and the "cortamontes" at night will continue. This day is marked by the burning of Ño Carnavalón who will be burned in the square of the city surrounded by comparsas as a spectacle for the tourists and locals.
The day is filled with song, dance, and games. You will see families in the streets playing with water balloons, buckets of pain, and talcum powder. No one leaves Ayacucho Carnival without getting wet, covered in colorful paint or talcum powder. And as the day comes to an end, the troupes dance and sing loudly for the last time.
If you would like to be past of the festivity you ned to book at least 2 years ahead of time