Peru is full of ancient traditions and festivals throughout the year. Any time you choose to travel to the South America, you are sure to have a great time, and there are so many festivals held during the year, the chances are, you might even visit during one of them. If you are planning on traveling to Cusco in June, do not miss the Inca celebration that is Peru’s Inti Raymi Festival.
The history of the Inti Raymi or Fiesta del Sol was the biggest most spectacular and magnificent feast of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire. Formally, the Inti Raymi lasted about 15 days, people made sacrifices and presented dances to worship the Sun God. The last Inti Raymi held with the presence of an Inca Emperor was in 1535, a year before the Spanish conquest. After the Spanish conquest the Inca continued celebrating Inti Raymi but hidden from the Spanish.
Every June 24th, in the city of Cusco is the winter solstice. The city comes alive and the population expands with tourists wanting to see this colorful day filled with ancient entertainment.
The day starts at the Inca Temple, Corikancha, where the day opens with an Inca ceremony held at the gardens in front of the temple, there is no seating but plenty of standing room. The parade then moves to the main square in Cusco, the main plaza is closed but the crowds can be big.
It is a good idea if you want to view the ceremony, to book a table at one of the many second floor restaurants on the plaza, this will give you a great view of the proceedings.
From the main plaza, you can walk and follow the parade to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman where the main ceremony takes place. Be prepared for large crowds, you can buy tickets in stands or you can pick a spot in the local park but you will need to take supplies with you for during the day like food, water, snacks, a hat and sunscreen.
You may be asking what happens on the day and what is Inti Raymi about? On June 24th, actors are selected, this is considered an honor to perform the rituals of Inti Raymi and they gather at Corikancha to begin the ceremony. Actors play the roles of the Sun King and his wife. The King delivers a speech praising the sun before being carried on a golden chariot to the temple of Sacsayhuaman. The procession follows close behind with many local actors playing the part of Inca nobles, priests and town people. Some local woman lead the procession by laying a path of flowers to free the way of evil spirits.
Once everyone has arrived at Sacsayhuaman, the Sun King addresses the Snake who represents the underworld, the Puma who represents the earth and the Condor who represents the heaven. A fake sacrifice is then performed and the fake heart of a llama is held up to Mother Earth to ensure a good harvest. As the sun sets, a fire is lit, the ceremony closes and the Sun King and his wife are carried back to Corikancha.
King speaks in Quechua
During the ceremony the King speaks in Quechua, an ancient Inca language, it began in 1412 but was suppressed in the 16th Century by the Spanish, saying it was a pagan ceremony. It began again in 1944 from the writing of Garcilaso de la Vega, a 16th Century poet.
Travelling to Cusco, Peru is a must on your travel list during any time of the year. Cusco has many ruins in and around the city. Travel around an hour from the city and see the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here you will find many fascinating ruins to explore. The area is also famous for its natural beauty, nestled in the Andes the area has some of the most stunning scenery you will ever encounter.
Travel from the Sacred Valley to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, no visit to Peru would be complete without a visit to this Wonder of the World. Hidden for centuries the site will take you back to Inca times and amaze you with its beauty.
Luxury hotels in Cusco and the surrounding areas are not hard to find with many luxury hotel chains featuring in the area. There are many hotels in renovated Spanish Colonial houses and some feature stunning art collections.
So come and experience Peru’s Inti Raymi festival held every year in June, the event will give you a great insight into the Inca traditions and beliefs. There is plenty to see and do not only in the Cusco area but all over Peru. Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, the country features the coast, where Lima is located, the highlands and the Andes where you will find Cusco and Machu Picchu and do not forget to see the Amazon basin for those of you who love nature. Book your tour to Peru today! What are you waiting for?!