Cusco and Machu Picchu are spectacular destinations 365 days a year. However, there are unique dates that make the trip to the Capital of the Incas a magical experience: Carnivals, Holy Week, Corpus Christi, Inti Raymi, Christmas, New Year, are just some of the most important festivities that celebrates the population Cusco. Know the tradition and joy that radiates the city ‘Navel of the World’ during those days. Ready to discover the most amazing Cusco Festivals?
Ch’iaraje: January 20 – Province of Canas, district of Yanaoca
Ritual fight between the inhabitants of the communities of Checa and Quehue, who confront each other in a warrior game to promote the fertility of the land. The winning community is the one that occupies the most amount of land. The men, armed with slings, whips of leather and sticks, dress with vests adorned with flowers. The women help by taking care of the horses and collecting stones and encouraging the men singing.
Toqto fights in Chumbivilcas: February 2 – Province of Chumbivilcas, district of
This Cusco Festival takes place in the place called Tocto, located between the districts of Yanaoca and Livitaca. They have a duration of three days, in which the struggles to win more land are evoked. The first day the participants settle in the place, the second day individual fights begin and then groups of five and up to ten people are formed. After eating and drinking, they face each other until the third day, during which they pick up their wounded and perform the qhaswa (rounds where losers and winners celebrate).
Holy Week and Feast of the Lord of the Earthquakes: March or April movable.
Holy Monday, procession and blessing of the Lord of the Earthquakes called in Quechua Taytacha Temblores patron and lord of Cusco. From early on, the streets where the procession goes are covered with multicolored carpets of flower petals and in the cathedral there are masses enlivened with senses chants in Quechua by the singers. It is a tradition that of the feast of the Lord of earthquakes that in his step throw reddish petals of the native flower called ñucchu.
Corpus Christi: May or June, movable. Province of Cusco, district of Cusco.
The Corpus Christi is one of the most important and lavish religious festivals of Cusco, its origin goes back to the year 1247. At the party the people of Cusco dress their virgins and saints with their finery and adorned with jewelry and carry them on litters until the church of Santa Clara, to the sound of the bands of music, in this festival the whole city and surrounding towns participates, later the images are taken to the Cathedral to be placed in their traditional places, the saints on one side and the saints the other. Musicians and folk groups form part of the processions. The typical and classic dish of this festivity is the chiri uchu (roasted guinea pig with cured meat, toasted corn, rocoto, sancochada hen, cheese, cochayuyo, sausage, fish eggcup, corn tortilla) and drink chicha or beer.
Lord of Torrechayoc: Movible – Province of Urubamba, district of Urubamba
The origins of this festival go back to the year 1860, when a huge cross was placed in the snow and an inauguration mass was celebrated on a section of the road (Urubamba-Lares). Years later, that cross was taken to the city of Urubamba, where he is worshiped. In addition to the mass, the cross is taken out in procession with all its jewels. The celebrations include fireworks, parades of typical dances, and a lot of devotion.
Qoyllur Rit’i: May / June, movable. Province of Quispicanchi, Ocongate.
The Qoyllur Rit’i is one of the most impressive rituals in Peru and the largest pilgrimage of indigenous nations in Latin America. A pilgrimage is made to the top of the Sinaqara peak, southeast of Cusco, in the district of Ocongate in the province of Quispicanchi, near the Apu Ausangate, at 6,384 m.a.s.l, to worship the Lord of Q’oyllur Ritti (Lord of the Snow stars). The path is accompanied by a procession, dances, music bands, fireworks and the symbolic market of the alasitas (fair of handicrafts in miniature). This festival brings together two traditions – the Andean and the Catholic – as it celebrates the appearance of the image of Christ on a solid rock at 4 750 meters above sea level. and at the same time the cult of Apu Ausangate. Its name means “Snow Light”, a festival where the ancestral cult of the Apus or mountains is mixed with the Catholic manifestations, where 50 thousand people participate with their typical clothes coming from the different regions of the South, until arriving at the Sanctuary of Sinakara. The pilgrims usually take stones of different sizes to be deposited in the apacheta (stone mound), and back, they load on the back blocks of ice.
Inti Raymi / June 24 – Province of Cusco, district of Cusco.
The Inti Raymi is inspired by the ancient Festival of the Sun celebrated by the Incas every June 24 of each year, the winter solstice day in the Andes. The Inti Raymi expresses the harmonious relationship of man with the Sun God, the highest divinity of the Incas. It is done at the winter solstice. Currently with great folkloric deployment begins in the Qoricancha and continues to the Main Square, to finally reach the esplanade of Saccsayhuaman. Participants dozens of actors, school and university students and members of the armed forces, dressed as priests and Inca military, as coyas (main wife of the Inca), pallas (noble lady) and acllas (chosen from the sun) who interpret the Inca scenes in front of thousands of national and foreign spectators who settle on the walls and corridors of the Sacsayhuaman fortress.
Our Lady of Carmen / July 16th – Paucartambo.
In Paucartambo and other towns in the region, the Virgin of Carmen is commemorated, not only with a procession, but also with traditional music and dance. The festivities of Paucartambo, Pisaq and Huarocondo are considered the best in folkloric demonstration of the region. Andean celebration of deep religious, social and ritual significance that has been held for 400 years in the town of Paucartambo, in the province of the same name 109 km from Cusco.
Celebrations of Quillabamba / July 25-29 – Province of La Convención,
Celebration of the anniversary of the province of the Convention, whose capital is the city of Quillabamba. Every year during this week, Miss Coffee or Miss Quillabamba is chosen. Cockfighting and motocross competitions are held, as well as the Cocla Fair where a musical festival with national and international artists are presented.
Pachamama Raymi or Mother Earth Day/ August 1 – Celebration throughout the Cusco Region
The following festivals are held on this date: “Pachamamaraymi” (Ccatca district), “Wataqallariy” (Maras district) and Kinturaymi (Oropesa district, Huasao town). Andean ritual in which the Pachamama (Mother Earth) is worshiped and paid tribute to a special ceremony called “payment to the earth” with offerings of coca leaves, chicha de jora and huayruros seeds (mystical seeds of the jungle). This ritual marks the beginning of the Andean New Year.
Lord of Huanca/ September 14 – Province of Calca, district of San Salvador.
The history of the Lord of Huanca begins in 1675 when, it is said, Jesus Christ appeared in a cave before the Indian Diego Quispe. His story inspired one of the best painters of the time to represent the image on the rock. The cult (recognized in 1779) has its central day on September 14 and there devotees arrive from remote parts of Peru and Bolivia to cure their afflictions of body and soul.
Santuranticuy/ December 24 – Province of Cusco, district of Cusco
Fair held in the Major Square of Cusco, where artisans gather to sell a variety of sacred images, wood carvings and ceramics to build Christmas births.