On July 28, 1821, Argentine freedom fighter Jose de San Martin declared the territory of Peru independent from Spanish rule from Lima’s Plaza de Armas. Fiestas Patrias is Spanish for Peru’s Independence Day celebrations.
San Martin was later sidelined in the continental war for independence by Simon Bolivar, who led the decisive Battle of Ayacucho, but Bolivar ultimately overstayed his welcome. Hence San Martin is more highly regarded in Peru, and downtown Lima’s second best plaza is named after him.
Anyway, I always stayed in during Fiestas Patrias but decided to get some pics for this blog. Nothing against Peruvian independence of course. I don’t do much to celebrate the Fourth of July either.
I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, a medium-sized city with an Independence Day celebration which draws over 200,000 people every year. While I liked that when I was young, crowds and chaos become annoying in your 30s. That’s why I never went to downtown Lima for the celebrations. I imagined crowds and chaos.
I couldn’t believe how wrong I was. I got to the Plaza de Armas faster than the slowest Sunday of the year. The roads were blocked off, unnecessarily in my opinion as there were not enough pedestrians to fill the sidewalks. While there were more people in the Plaza de Armas than I had ever seen before, getting in and out of any area was faster and easier than I had ever seen in the historic city center.
Fiestas Patrias in Peru is not a one-day holiday, but almost a weeklong affair. In fact, this year Peru’s government declared July 27 a public holiday in addition to July 28 and 29. So it was effectively a five-day weekend.
I knew Peruvians generally travel for Fiestas Patrias, and the five-day weekend made it even more convenient. But Lima has over 9 million residents including Callao. And while I assumed that many Limeños would certainly visit the countryside, many provincial residents would surely come to the capital to celebrate independence.
Whatever the reason, downtown Lima is not at all difficult to visit during Fiestas Patrias. I found that Lima generally has dozens if not hundreds of smaller fairs throughout the city. So in addition to festivities in Lima’s Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Martin and Alameda Chabuca Granda, I also included shots of fireworks and a concert in the Parque de la Reserva and general Fiestas Patrias fairs in Parque de la Exposicion, Pueblo Libre and Lince.
Historic City Center
These pics include the Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Martin, Congress and a bunch of random street shots. The Government Palace placed large flat screens along the gates so people could watch President Ollanta Humala‘s 2015 Message to the Nation, which is Peru’s equivalent to the State of the Union given every July 28.
In the Plaza de Armas I also got shots of two news shows covering President’s speech.
Alameda Chabuca Granda
The Chabuca Granda promenade behind the Government Palace was where most people celebrated. There was a Peruvian gastronomy fair selling plates for prices which were surprisingly reasonable. There was also a chocolate and coffee show.
Parque de la Reserva
On the night of July 28, the Parque de la Reserva (home to the Magic Water Circuit) held a fireworks show and a concert. And of course more Peruvian cuisine. The plate I had may be difficult to see, but it’s arroz con pollo, aji de gallina and carapulcra.
Parque de la Exposicion
I got to the Parque de la Exposicion well before the festivities got underway. But they were getting ready for a concert. I also got shots of two traditional Andean scissor dancers.
Pueblo Libre and Lince
I got the pics of Pueblo Libre’s Plaza Bolivar after missing Parque de las Leyendas. I must say as a father this fair featured the best amenities for children. And I got the Lince fair in the Pedro Ruiz Gallo municipal park.