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Celebrating the Festivities of Cusco - Culture At Its Best!

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 21-06-2023

Cusco, a city nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is known not only for its awe-inspiring archaeological sites but also for its vibrant and colorful festivals that captivate both locals and visitors alike. Throughout the year, Cusco comes alive with a variety of traditional celebrations, where ancient customs and rituals blend seamlessly with modern festivities. Let's explore some of the remarkable events that take place during the holidays in Cusco, showcasing the rich cultural heritage and the unique spirit of this enchanting city.


When you travel to Cusco, the chance of seeing a traditional Cusco festival is extremely high.  This historic city, once the capital of the Inca Empire, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage. This is vividly showcased in its numerous festivals and celebrations, especially during the month of June.



Inti Raymi - The Festival of the Sun

One of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in Cusco is Inti Raymi, also known as the Festival of the Sun. Held annually on June 24th, this grand celebration pays homage to the Inca sun god, Inti. Dating back to the time of the Incas, the festival involves a series of colorful processions, music, dance, and theatrical performances. The main event takes place at the historical site of Sacsayhuaman, just outside Cusco, where a reenactment of ancient Inca rituals is performed. Thousands of participants dressed in traditional attire gather to witness and take part in this mesmerizing spectacle.


The Inti Raymi festival is the most famous Cusco festival. It symbolizes the Inca reverence for the Sun God, Inti. This annual festival features elaborate processions, traditional music, and a captivating reenactment of ancient Inca ceremonies.  The ceremony takes place at the majestic Sacsayhuamán archaeological site.

Inti Raymi


University and School Parades

During the festive month of June, Cusco's universities and institutions take part in vibrant parades that bring together students, faculty, and staff. These parades provide a platform for showcasing traditional dances and cultural expressions. Each institution prepares meticulously choreographed routines, often incorporating elements of traditional Andean dances such as the Qhapaq Qolla, Tinku, and Huayno. The participants, dressed in colorful costumes representing their respective institutions, move through the streets with joy and energy, captivating spectators with their rhythmic movements and synchronized performances. The Andean version of a "dance off"!


The university's allegory festival reflects the heritage of Cusco. This Peru festival symbolizes its commitment to academic excellence and cultural preservation. The allegory often includes elements representing the Inca Empire. This includes elaborate floats  that depict scenes of cultural heritage.

School Traditional Dances


Qoyllur Rit'i - The Snow Star Festival

In May or June, another significant festival known as Qoyllur Rit'i takes place in the Sinakara Valley, located in the Cusco region. Celebrated by indigenous communities, this festival combines elements of Inca and Catholic traditions. The highlight of the event is the pilgrims' trek to the Qoyllur Rit'i Sanctuary, situated at an altitude of over 15,000 feet in The Ausangate mountain range. Participants embark on a challenging journey, carrying large crosses and colorful banners, as they make their way to the sacred site.  It holds a special connection to the winter solstice, as it is celebrated during this time. The pilgrimage to the Qoyllur Rit'i Sanctuary, located high in the mountains, symbolizes the search for spiritual renewal and connection with the natural world. The festival includes traditional dances, music, and rituals that honor the Andean deities and the cycles of nature associated with the winter solstice.


The Qoyllur Rit'i festival is centered around the worship of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i. This Cusco festival is known for its colorful dances, music, and processions, as well as the lighting of ritual fires. This is an adventurous Cusco excursion as the pilgrimage heads to the highlands of The Ausangate region.

Qoyllur Rit'i


Corpus Christi

In the month of June, Cusco is also host to the magnificent Corpus Christi celebration. As one of the most important Catholic feasts, Corpus Christi showcases the religious devotion and cultural heritage of the city. Elaborate processions wind their way through the streets of Cusco, with participants carrying ornate religious saints and adorned with traditional clothing. The city is beautifully decorated, and the atmosphere is filled with music, prayer, and a profound sense of spirituality. Corpus also provides a space for the blending of Andean religions with Catholic festivities. Indigenous communities incorporate their traditional beliefs and rituals into the celebration, creating a unique fusion of spiritual practices. This blending of traditions highlights the resilience of Andean cultures and their ability to maintain their ancestral beliefs within the context of modern religious festivals. 12 Saints head to the main cathedral in the Plaza de Armas carried from their respective churches from all over Cusco, by their devotees. The saints stay in the cathedral for a week with Sr de los Temblores -the Patron saint of Earthquakes, before they are carried back to their own churches, which is when the festivities really begin with traditional food such as "Chiri Uchu" amongst other dishes, drink, and street parties!


Try and time your Cusco tours with Corpus Cristi. The celebration includes a series of religious processions, music, dance, and traditional Andean rituals. One of the highlights of the festival is the procession of saints and virgins, where elaborately adorned statues are carried through the streets of Cusco.

Corpus Christi


Virgen del Carmen

In mid-July, the town of Paucartambo, located near Cusco, hosts the Virgen del Carmen festival. This event blends Andean and Catholic traditions and honors the patron saint of Paucartambo. The festival showcases an impressive procession featuring colorful dancers, musicians, and costumed characters. The lively streets become a stage for captivating performances, where locals and visitors can immerse themselves in the rich folklore and traditions of the region.


The Virgen del Carmen festival in Paucartambo is one of the most famous and traditional festivals in Peru. It is celebrated annually from July 15th to 17th. The festival also includes traditional music, dance, and rituals, as well as bullfights and other cultural events.


The festivals of Cusco are a testament to the city's vibrant cultural heritage and the enduring traditions of the Andean people. Each festival offers a unique glimpse into the traditions, customs, and spirituality of the region. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a culture lover, or simply seeking a memorable experience, the festivities of Cusco will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression and provide an opportunity to celebrate alongside the warm-hearted people of this fascinating city. Festivities also highlight the blend of Andean religions with modern religious festivals in a truly unique way. From the magnificent Inti Raymi, deeply connected to the winter solstice, to the blending of Andean beliefs with Catholic celebrations in Corpus Christi, and the Qoyllur Rit'i festival's reverence for the cycles of nature, these events embody the spiritual and cultural richness of the region. They serve as reminders of the harmonious relationship between ancient traditions and contemporary celebrations, preserving the legacy of the Andean people and offering visitors a truly immersive and enchanting experience. Ask here for more information about the Cusco festivities throughout the year!
Cusco's calendar is dotted with vibrant festivals like Corpus Christi, Qoyllur Rit'i, and the city's anniversary celebrations.  Each Cusco festival offers a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of this historic city. Time your Peru tour package around June to see the best of Cusco´s festivals!

Cusco Fiestas!