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Inti Raymi The Festival of The Sun

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 19-04-2023

Inti Raymi was once the most important ancestral festival in the Inca civilization and in the "Tahuantinsuyo" region or the 4 corners of the Inca empire. Over 25,000 people used to attend this 15-day festival throughout the 15th century. Today, Inti Raymi is considered to be the second most important festival in South America, after Rio de Janeiro’s carnival, and why many people decide to travel to Cusco, Peru. Find out more about this incredible ancient festival in Cusco and why you should try to visit the festival on the 24th of June for one of the best Cusco tours on your Peru trip.


Inti Raymi is the Festival of the Sun in Peru. It is one of the most significant celebrations on the Inca calendar. Held each year on the 24th of June in the ancient Incan capital, this Cusco festival honors Inti, the Incan sun god, and marks the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

The main Ceremony at Sacsaywaman



The Sun God is the main protagonist of one of the most important and traditional festivals celebrated in Peru and South America.  Inti Raymi or “Fiesta del Sol”. In the ancient Inca language of Quechua, Inti means Sun and Raymi celebration. Inti Raymi was the celebration of the Sun God, the most venerated god in the Inca religion. The Inca emperor, and all the Cusco nobility, were considered natural children of the Sun and to whom they depended on for their existence.


The Inti Raymi festival is a colorful display of Inca culture. It attracts thousands of locals and tourists to the festivities.. Inti Raymi dates back to the 15th century and was established by the ninth Inca, Pachacutec. It was the most important religious ceremony in the Inca Empire.

Musicians at The Ceremony

This is why the ancient Incas paid tribute with different sacrifices and offerings. This festival was established in Cusco by the Inca Pachatutec, the first Inca, in 1430 A. C. to celebrate the winter solstice of the southern hemisphere, which marked the first day of the Andean New Year in the Inca calendar. This is the day when the sun is farthest from the Earth and it is the shortest day of the year.


The Arrival of The Spanish

In 1572, the Inti Raymi festival was prohibited by the Spanish viceroy Francisco de Toledo as it was considered a pagan ceremony and contrary to the Catholic faith. The festival was still held in secret for over 400 years, although not with the same pomp" as now, the Inca emperor wasn’t there to officiate it. In 1944, Faustino Espinoza Navarro, a Peruvian writer who promoted Inca and Quechua customs, was able to re-introduce this unique celebration to society.


The Koricancha stands as a symbol of the Inca civilization's architectural magnificence, spiritual depth, and human resilience.  Its stone walls tell the story of a nation that revered the sun and nature.  Visiting the Koricancha on your Cusco tours offers a profound connection to the past.

Inti Raymi at The Koricancha


Inti Raymi Today

The tradition continues today as a theatrical representation with mystical and spiritual undertones. The highlight of the Cusco Festivals, which take place throughout the month of June Inti Raymi attracts thousands of national and foreign visitors, who follow the pilgrimage through the streets of the historic Inca capital and can personally experience a special day of cultural activities, with the aim of maintaining the Inca legacy and tradition on their Peru trip.


Before the Spanish conquest, the Plaza de Armas was known as "Huacaypata," which means "place of tears" or "place of weeping" in Quechua.  The Plaza de Armas, visited on the Cusco city tour was a ceremonial center where the Incas held important events, including religious ceremonies, military parades, and celebrations.
Dancing on The Plaza de Armas


What to Expect

About 700 people, are carefully selected including actors, dancers, and musicians who star in a series of performances that include dances, actuation, and homages to the Sun God, performed outside the Qorikancha complex, the original temple of The Sun. The procession then continues to the Plaza de Armas and finalizes in an incredible actuation above Cusco at The Sacsayhuamán fortress. The Inti Raymi Festival is not exclusive to Cusco, and most Andean communities continue to give their offerings every 24th of June, in Andean countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, northern Argentina, and Colombia.


Inti Raymi is one of Peru’s biggest tourist attractions. It attracts visitors from around the globe to see the Festival of The Sun. This Cusco festival provides a unique immersive experience of Inca culture, making it a must-see event for tourists on their Peru vacation packages.

Inti Raymi on The Plaza de Armas



The triumphant return of the Sun on the shortest day and on the longest night renews nature and thus is a reason for joy and celebration. So the Inca and his entourage pay their respects and admiration to the Sun, the Inca says a prayer in the Quechua language and simulates a sacrifice so that a shaman can predict the prosperity and well-being of the coming year.


Sacsayhuaman is one of the most impressive archaeological sites to see when you visit Peru. This ancient Inca fortress is characterized by gigantic stone walls, sophisticated construction techniques, and panoramic views of the Andean countryside.

Sacsaywaman Inti Raymi


Inti Raymi Tips

Weather Conditions

Use Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat, and drink plenty of water. Usually, it’s really sunny for Inti Raymi as it is the dry season in Cusco. It may not be really hot, but due to the high elevation, the sun will burn you. Dress in layers. Usually, you do not need to take big coats with you during the festival, but it may start as a cool day, and as hours pass by (this is a full-day event), the sun gets hotter. As soon as the sun goes down, the cooler temperatures arrive once more. The event is usually finished by 5 pm o you should be able to make it back to your hotel before dark.


The Incas were keen astronomers, and the site may have been used for observing celestial events and aligning their calendar. The fortress's alignment with certain astronomical points underscores its importance in Incan cosmology. Learn more about Inca Cosmology when you travel to Cusco Peru.

Model against a Blue Sky




Try to come a few days in advance to Cusco, so that you can acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness so that you can enjoy the day to the fullest. The festival happens at an elevation of 3400 meters and can affect some people (not all). Consider drinking coca tea, drinking plenty of water, eating light meals, and walking slowly. If in doubt, contact your doctor before your trip as there is a medicine specifically for altitude sickness.


Coca tea is widely believed to help alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. The active compounds in coca leaves, including alkaloids such as cocaine, in very small amounts. Coca tea helps improve oxygen uptake in the bloodstream, which is crucial at high altitudes where oxygen levels are lower.
Coca Tea


Book EVERYTHING in Advance

Make sure you have your tickets and hotel reservations well in advance, many travelers from all over the world attend this amazing spectacle and availability is usually a problem if you do not plan the trip in advance.


The dances of Cusco are a living testament to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Andean people. Each dance tells a story, whether it be of ancient rituals, religious devotion, or communal celebrations. On Cusco Peru tours, witnessing these dances is not just entertaining to watch but an immersive experience into the heart and soul of Andean culture.

Dance troupes



The main event in Sacsayhuaman is ticketed, with different pricing. The least expensive ticket costs $199 USD, and the most expensive is $249. Children pay $109 and $169. Inti Raymi has faced a lot of criticism for its high costs, overcrowding, and waste problem. One of the closest approximations states that 80,000 people watch the Inti Raymi procession through the city, and over 3,000 people attend the event at Sacsayhuaman, making it one of the most-visited Cusco excursions.


Whether you travel to Cusco Peru during grand festivals like Inti Raymi or prefer more intimate local celebrations, Cusco is jam -packed with culture. The dances of Cusco preserve and celebrate the legacy of the Incas and the diverse influences that have shaped Peru.

Inti Raymi  Colors


Though it is true that the event generates income for many locals, the challenge remains to carry out the event in a sustainable manner that also allows local people to enjoy the event along with visitors. Many locals living in the city and in rural areas do not have the income to attend the ticketed event of course and watch either on TV or from the hills surrounding Sacsaywaman, where a ticket is not required. Be aware that if you choose this option, often people will charge you for a space they have saved and there are no facilities, so drink little to avoid using the bathroom (there are none!) but drink enough to stay hydrated, it's a fine balance!


Visiting Sacsayhuaman offers a unique opportunity to connect with the rich heritage of the Incas, marvel at their engineering achievements, and experience the enduring legacy of this remarkable civilization. Whether you're a history enthusiast, an archaeology buff, or a curious traveler on Cusco tours, Sacsayhuamán is an essential destination on any trip to Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Actresses at Inti Raymi


If you want to visit this ancient Inca Festival, we recommend that you book at least 6 months in advance as tickets sell out quickly and demand is great. Ask us here for more information about the festival of The Sun .