Peru, a country known for its cultural diversity, has a number of ancient cultural activities. The international influences brought by its Spanish conquerors have also resulted to more religious celebrations, pilgrimages, and other festivals.
If you’re a culture traveler and aiming to visit Cusco when there are festivities, here are the three festivals we suggest you include in your calendar.
Inti Raymi, the Incan Festival of the Sun (June 24th)
Called the “festival of the sun,” the Inti Raymi is a major celebration on the Peruvian calendar due to its historical importance during the time of the Incas. The feast is celebrated every year on the 24th of June, after the winter solstice.
The Inca worshiped the sun and offered sacrifices to it during religious rituals. Nowadays, the festival commences with a gathering at the Qoriqancha, the old Sun temple located in the city of Cusco. Someone who portrays Sapa Inca, the emperor in the olden times, will be carried to Sacsayhuaman in a (replica) golden chariot, where a (somewhat) theatrical presentation of the rituals will take place.
The event will be conducted in the original Quechua language with corresponding Spanish translation for the audience to understand. This is a week-long celebration of sacred enchantments which fill up the city with religious energy.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) (March/April)
Almost 90% of Peru’s population is Catholic. Two well-known saints actually come from there, St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres. This makes Peru one of the best countries to observe Holy Week, as there are a lot of religious processions and remarkable festivals that will take place there.
There will be a widespread, weeklong celebration, with processions facilitated by devout people parading the images of saints all over the country.
One of the highlights of Holy Week is the procession of El Señor de los Temblores, also known as “The Lord of the Earthquakes.” This is held every Easter Monday in the streets of Cusco, ending up at the Plaza de Armas where a spectacle awaits the vast crowd during this religious celebration.
During dawn of Easter Sunday, the main venue is immensely lit up with candles and bonfires.
Virgen del Carmen (July 15–16)
Paucartambo is a small and remote Andean colonial village about 3 hours trip from the city of Cusco. Despite its size, it hosts one of the country’s best celebrations in July, a five-day festivity of vibrant and riveting dance exhibitions of various groups in honor of the Holy Virgin of Carmen.
This celebration is also called the Mamacha Carmen festivity to give tribute to the mother of mestizos and the children of Spanish descents. During this festival, the number of visitors usually surpass the resident villagers. Altogether, they celebrate three days of dance, amusement, and exhibition of bizarre and creepy costumes. The town is so full during the festivity that some would camp out even in the cemetery.
Peru is a country of fun-loving people who value their ancestral roots through the celebration of rituals and festivities. Being there to observe the numerous festivals in the country would certainly be a treat to any culture travelers.