5 Cusco festivals that you can enjoy for free on your visit
Cusco offers numerous tourist attractions to visit such as: Sacsayhuaman, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Humantay lagoon, the 7-color mountain and, of course, Machu Picchu. However, in Cusco you can also appreciate the traditions and culture of its inhabitants. And the best way to get to know them is through the city festivals. Learn about 5 festivities that you can meet for free in Cuzco!
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Carnivals of Cusco
In February Cusco is filled with color, joy and lots of rain. Throughout the city, and in the different provinces, there are dance and music shows. The main characteristic are the ‘yunzas’, trees decorated with balloons and gifts for the population. Each person dances around the tree until it collapses.
Every Sunday in February, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco is filled with water games among the young people of Cusco. Tourists also participate in this party full of merriment. Before, two Thursdays in February, the ‘Día de los compadres’ and the ‘Día de las comadres’ are celebrated. On that day men celebrate their friendship with women and viceversa.
- Date: Sundays in February.
- Place: City of Cusco.
- What to see? Dance and music show in the Plaza de Armas. Games with water throughout the city.
Procession in honor of the Lord of Earthquakes
The Lord of the Tremors, also called ‘Taitacha de los Temblores’ is the Sworn Patron of Cusco. Every ‘Holy Monday’ his sculpture goes out in procession through the streets of the city center. This religious manifestation, the one with the most fervent devotion among the people of Cusco, brings together more than 5,000 faithful.
The history of the Lord of the Earthquakes dates back to the colonial era in Cusco. His sculpture was brought from Spain in 1570. In 1650 a strong earthquake struck the city. Before the aftershocks, the residents took the image in procession. As the aftershocks stopped, the image acquired the belief of granting miracles. Since then he has been adored with faith by the people of Cusco.
- Date: Every year every ‘Holy Monday’.
- Place: Historical center of the city of Cusco.
- What to see? Massive procession through the city center
Corpus Christi Festival
Every year, nine weeks after Holy Thursday, the city of Cusco is filled with faith. That day is the religious festival of Corpus Christi, in which the 15 main images of saints and virgins are taken in procession: from their respective churches to the city’s Cathedral.
That day the city of Cusco offers the best of its gastronomy. In the streets the popular ‘Chiri uchu’ is sold as well as the delicious breads, rolls and empanadas. The investigations indicate that this tradition was imposed by the Spaniards before the Inca tradition of carrying the mummies of the Inca rulers in procession.
- Date: Every year nine weeks after ‘Holy Thursday’ (approximately at the beginning of June).
- Place: The Plaza de Armas of Cusco.
- What to see? Procession of 15 images of the main saints and virgins of the city.
Every year, June 24, is a holiday in Cusco. The reason? That day the Inti Raymi (Sun Festival, translated from the Quechua language) is celebrated. It is a vindication of the Inti Raymi festival organized by the Incas. It is that day is winter solstice, when the sun (Inca god) was closest to the earth in the southern hemisphere.
The Inti Raymi is characterized by a gigantic staging with hundreds of actors and actresses interpreting the ancient Inca celebration. The staging takes place in three settings: the Coricancha temple, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco and the Sacsayhuaman fortress. That day also, the people of Cusco celebrate with joy, music and typical dishes.
- Date: Every year on June 24.
- Place: Esplanade of Coricancha, Plaza de Armas of Cusco and esplanade of Sacsayhuaman.
- What to see? Mass staging with actors and actresses staging the Inca Inti Raymi ceremony.
Christmas and New Year in Cusco
In Cusco, the Christmas and New Year festivities have unique characteristics that are worth knowing. On Christmas Day and during the previous days, the ‘Fiesta de Santuranticuy’ (Sale of Saints, translated from Quechua) takes place in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. In other words, beautiful handicrafts with images of saints, virgins and more are sold.
On December 31 and January 1, families from Cusco taste the succulent baked suckling pig. At midnight hundreds of people from Cusco and tourists gather in the Plaza de Armas to wait for the new year. In addition to the general music and dance shows, the cabals for better luck next year are striking. A unique party in Peru!
- Date: Every year on December 25 and January 1.
- Place: Plaza de Armas of Cusco.
- What to see? The popular sale of handicrafts “Santuranticuy” as well as the party saying goodbye to the old year in the center of the city