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Festivities in Cusco
Enjoy the best of Cusco!
Cusco - Perú
Nicole Maxdeo
April 12, 2024

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Many of these festivities come from past years, perhaps from our grandparents or even ancestors who, thanks to the oral tradition of the time, passed down their wisdom and customs to us. We are sure that, in any month you visit us, you will be able to enjoy these celebrations. Whether it’s during Inti Raymi or simply playing with water in the Plaza de Armas, you will have the best time. Cusco is more than its tourist attractions, it’s a city that dazzles and surprises. Are you ready to explore it?

Table of Contents

Festivities in Cusco: Lord of the Tremors

For over 5 decades, every Holy Monday in the city of Cusco, the procession of the Lord of the Tremors takes place. This story dates back to the 1950s. At that time, a strong earthquake struck the city of Cusco, and the image captured a procession. Once the image went through the streets of Cusco, the earthquake ceased.

Years later, thanks to the faith and fervor of the people of Cusco, this procession has become a characteristic of each Holy Week. The celebration allows visitors to observe the fusion between Andean religions and Christianity.

Believers hold that the procession of this image of Jesus Christ through the streets mirrors the way the Incas transported their mummies, typically reserved for chiefs and high priests.

During this procession, we can find the characteristic red color of small flowers, called ñucchu. This flower was used as an offering to ancient gods such as Wiracocha.

Festivities in Cusco : Corpus Christi

Almost all of Peru currently celebrates this festival, known as Corpus Christi. However, it reached its peak popularity in the city of Cusco. During this procession around the square, you can see 15 saints and virgins from different districts and localities of Cusco.
The festival known as Corpus Christi is currently celebrated in almost all of Peru.

This Corpus Christi celebration attracts thousands of tourists and devotees year after year who walk around the images.

  • Virgin of the Immaculate Conception also known as "La Linda" of the Cathedral
  • Sworn Patroness of Cusco, Virgin of Bethlehem
  • Parish of San Pedro, Virgin of Purification
  • From the Church of Santa Catalina, Virgin of Remedies
  • Parish of Almudena, Virgin of Nativity
  • From the Parish of Bethlehem, Saint Joseph
  • San Pedro, from the Parish of San Pedro
  • Representing the Parish of San Blas, Saint Blaise is represented
  • Saint James the Apostle from the Parish of Santiago
  • Saint Anne from the Parish of Santa Ana
  • Saint Barbara from the temple of Poroy
  • The district of San Sebastián is represented by the Patron Saint of San Sebastián
  • The Parish of San Cristóbal is represented by the great Saint Christopher
  • District of San Jerónimo is represented by the Patron Saint of San Jerónimo
  • Saint Anthony

Cusco Carnivals

This may be one of the most anticipated festivals of the year. It does not have a specific date as it varies from year to year. Here, different delegations from workplaces, markets, or troupes compete in dance competitions. The particularity of this festival is the color and music that brightens the streets of Cusco, thanks to the costumes, carriages, and dances.

During these dates, there are also food competitions and fairs where the "Puchero," a dish consisting of lamb and boiled tubers, is the star among diners. Additionally, during these dates, on Carnival Sundays and Carnival Monday, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco becomes the ideal space where many young people and adults gather to play with water.

Festivities in Cusco: The Virgin of Carmen

Did you know that Pope John Paul himself crowned the Virgin of Carmen? This festival is a symbol of the fervor and customs of Cusco. This celebration takes place in the province of Paucartambo, south of the city of Cusco. The town and groups of dancers accompany the image of the Virgin while demonstrating their devotion to the rhythm of chants. They celebrate the festivity from July 13th to July 16th.

This festival is declared a cultural heritage. Among the dances, we can also observe the history of the villages as well as part of their customs. Some of the most representative dances are: Qhapaq Qollas, Majeños, Saqras, among others.

Bonus point: The spectacle of the sunrise in 3 Cruces

There is a place where the sun rises, located almost 1 hour from Paucartambo. Here, thousands of travelers gather to witness the so-called sunrise above the clouds. The perfect dates to observe this event are around July.

Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi, translated from Quechua, means the Festival of the Sun. This is the largest demonstration of Inca culture. It takes place every June 24th in the city of Cusco, specifically in the ancient Inca fortress of Sacsayhuamán.

This internationally known celebration traces its roots back to the Inca era. During this religious celebration, a representative of the Inca, along with various representatives of the four suyos and emblematic figures of the ancient empire, make an appearance in the wide court of the aforementioned fortress. During the theatricalization of this ceremony, the Inca enters together with his entourage so that later the representatives of the four suyos manifest themselves.

It culminates with a representation of the Inca festival of the winter solstice at Sacsayhuamán. Despite being very touristy, it is worth seeing its dances and parades.For sure, one of the best festivities in Cusco.

Cruz Velacuy

The vigil of the Cross or Cruz Velacuy is a tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is practiced in several communities in the Andes of Peru. This is a manifestation of worship of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. It is also a clear example of the religious syncretism of our Inca society and the Spanish one, since, as we know, it was the colonizers who instructed us in the Catholic religion. The festivity is celebrated on May the 2nd and 3rd.

The main characteristic of this festival is the congregation of people around the different crosses of the city of Cusco. These people carry candles and offerings while praying and sharing a delicious broth.

The celebration of the crosses dates more or less from the colonial era. The Spaniards introduced this feast of the crosses with the aim of making the inhabitants stop worshiping their gods, Apus, sacred divinities, among others.

Lord of Qoyllurit'i

Cusco and its traditions never cease to amaze us. Year after year, the festival that gathers the most fervent is that of the Lord of Qoyllurit’i, a venerated image. The festivity is celebrated on May 26th to May 29th.

Our ancestors went to the Qoyllurit’i glacier to celebrate a star whose name was Q’oyllur, which is why our ancestors came or went to that place. They looked at that star; our Inca ancestors climbed to the glacier so that they could observe many things because they knew how to observe the future of life, in terms of production, they knew about the moon, the stars, and our Pachamama. They believed in the apus (considered fathers), understanding the source of life originating from the glacier. From its melting snow, water flowed into the river, symbolizing the entry into the womb of Pachamama, a venerated Andean deity.. This celebration combines elements of the Catholic religion with indigenous beliefs, creating a unique experience that reflects the rich cultural diversity of the region.

During the festival, the faithful make a procession to the glacier with their flags and religious symbols. The dance of the "ukukus" or "bears," which plays an important role in the tradition, is one of the most important moments. This is one of the most famous festivities in Cusco.

Santuranticuy

It dates back to the 16th century, a time when the popular "arches" were sold to noble families from Cusco, as well as to monasteries. Thus, the name of this fair comes from the Quechua "sale of saints," imposed by the Spanish colonizers who sought to evangelize the indigenous people of the time.

What is sold in Santuranticuy?


Among the items sold in Santuranticuy, ceramic representations of the newborn Jesus Christ, known at the time as Niño Manuelito, stood out. The name Manuel derives from the variation of "Emmanuel," another name by which the baby Jesus is known in the Catholic tradition. From this custom, the people of Cusco adopted representations of the Niño Manuelito as their own and dressed him as an Inca king, a fact that unleashed the fury of the Catholic Church.

Today, it is popular that in each Santuranticuy, Niño Manuelito is present in different representations. Being so important for the people of Cusco, the artist Antonio Olave Palomino has portrayed a different version for 40 years, a child sitting in a chair with a thorn in his foot, known as "The Thorn Child".

Many artisans come from all parts of Cusco and even from Peru to sell their crafts at this festival, undoubtedly a real spectacle. The festivity is celebrated on December 24th. The holiday festivities in Cusco are the best!

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