The Virgin Candelaria festival or “Mamacha candelaria” as many people known it, is celebrated every year in the month of January and February in Puno, This department of Peru is known as the folkloric capital of Peru and America. This festival has become the largest traditional festival in Peru, due the dancers and spectators of Peru and the world that travel to Puno to see the festival. There are many theories about the history of the Virgin and the beginning of this festival, one of the most accepted is the appearance of the Virgin to a native of the altitudes of Puno on the border of the Huacsapata river. The theory say that the virgin was carrying a baby and dressed a very elegant white dress, she asked to the native permission to wash her clothes and in return would take care of their land until he returned, the native ran to his village to tell what had happened, and when returning with another person he found the bust of the virgin with wet clothes, since then she was named as the patron protector of his lands and it became a tradition to venerate her.
The central day of the Candelaria festival is February 2, date in which all the dancers are concentrated in Puno center and the main avenues of the city are closed, starting a parade where all the dancers and orchestras pay homage to the virgin, who is lacated in the central podium, while the spectators located in the tribunes armed occasionally to the sides of the road, applaud and rejoice with the entrance of the dancers until late at night, of course there is no lack of gastronomy and drinks. The dancers of this festival are not only from Puno, but groups come from all over Peru and even from abroad such as Bolivia, Colombia, Spain and the United States. The party does not end with the central day, because many people stay to celebrate the eighth of the party, that is, continue celebrating 7 days after the central date.