Semana Santa (Easter week) is the height of religious celebration for people throughout the Andes. Perhaps the greatest and most famous celebration can be found in Ayacucho. The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus is highly charged and the entire week is set for religious observance. The week kicks off with Jesus riding into Plaza Mayor on a donkey. On Wednesday, processions carrying the images Virgin Mary and Saint John make their way through flower filled streets and later meet with an image of Christ in the main square. On Holy Friday beginning at the Monastery of Santa Clara Christ, set on a bed of white roses, is paraded through dark streets followed by a weeping virgin and many solemn followers holding candles. The procession is followed all night long by prayers and song and a three-hour sermon, which doesn’t occur until Saturday. Easter Sunday is less somber and one more procession takes place, which is quite spectacular. Semana Santa in Ayacucho is well known throughout Peru and lodging fills up quick. It is advised to book hotels at least 6 months in advance.
Carnaval in Ayacucho – Feb/March – This three-day long festival is a traditional Quechua carnival with lots of drinking of chicha, consumption of Andean dishes, and music.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.