With over a thousand festivals held around the country each year, Peru certainly loves celebration, ritual and dressing up! The months of June and July are a particularly great time to visit Peru if you want to join in some of the parades and parties, with the colorful traditional Peruvian festivals of Inti Raymi, Qoyllur Rit’I and a number of others all falling over this eight week period. Here we let you in on a few of the highlight festivals. Most of the Peru festivals are in the Cusco area so they are perfect for combining with a trip to Machu Picchu, and perhaps even the Inca Trail trek.
♦ Qoyllur Rit’i – The Snow Star Festival: May 31st – June 1st
♦ Corpus Christi: June 2nd
Corpus Christi is a colorful time in Cusco, with hundreds of locals thronging the streets, while processions from all over the region converge on the city to parade through the streets to the cathedral. Statues of the virgin and various saints are carried aloft, and those taking part dress in traditional regional costume. The Plaza de Armas is the centre of festivities where the atmosphere is lively with strings of stalls serving up delicious traditional Peruvian street food such as tortillas, maize and grilled chicken, all to be washed down with a nice cold glass of the local Cusquena beer.
♦ Inti Raymi – The Festival of the Sun: June 24th
The annual Inti Raymi festival held in Cusco is a huge and exuberant event with its roots firmly in the ancient Inca culture. This Peruvian festival was held every year at the winter solstice until the Spanish suppressed it in 1535 on the grounds of paganism. However, in 1944, a group of intellectuals inspired by their studies of indigenous culture recreated the event in the form of a pageant. Inti Raymi captured the imaginations of the locals and has been celebrated ever since.
Beginning at the Temple of the Sun, the procession, comprising of hundreds of traditionally dressed festival goers, winds its way up the main avenue to the ancient ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where thousands of people line the huge stone walls of the fortress to witness the spectacle. The Inti Raymi ceremony consists of rituals, including the relighting of a sacred fire and the (staged) sacrifice of a white llama. The dancing and singing continues until nightfall.
The build up to the festival is also a great time to be in the city with spirits running high and locals tending to outnumber tourists. You’ll enjoy colorful costumes, bright sunny days and much dancing, singing and feasting.
♦ Virgen del Carmen: July 15th & 16th
The Virgen del Carmen is the patron saint of the small town of Paucartambo which is located in the mountains not far from the Inca capital of Cusco. This annual festival is a color drenched party where masked and costumed dancers reenact ancient folktales and legends. The statue of the virgin is also paraded through the streets and the festivities reach their grand finale in a battle between the forces of good and evil in which everyone gets involved. It is a raucous and religiously fervent festival that combines an interesting mix of Catholicism and pre-Columbian ceremony.