Inti Raymi, Sun Festival and Life Celebrations in Cusco

Inti Raymi, Sun Festival, and Life Celebrations in Cusco

I am in a theater, watching a ballet performance of “Snegurochka”, or a Russian version of Frozen, with all the dancing, music, costumes, decorations and celebrations. Celebrations of spring, new beginnings and Yarilo, Slavic Sun God. All of a sudden it feels somehow familiar to me. Have I seen and experienced something similar before? A more modern and positive version of it? Where everyone is alive and healthy?

For centuries, and, probably, since the beginning of the mankind, Sun has been worshipped and celebrated as the symbol of abundance, prosperity, generosity, warmth and life itself. Across the world and its different continents, cultures and civilizations. Still evident and visible today through art, culture, literature, folklore, customs and traditions. Who knows for sure how many solar-inspired civilizations and cultures were out there to date? 

Oh, Sun, what are you?

The warmth, the breath, and Love,

and Life itself…

Just as the Mediterranean Sea is considered to be the cradle of Europe, North Africa and Middle East, so is Lake Titicaca in Peru is considered by the Incas, the origin of mankind and the origin of the whole Sun civilization. Located between Bolivia and Peru, this is one of the deepest and largest high-altitude lakes in the world, and one of the most important, meaningful and sacred places for the whole Sun civilization. According to the legend, this is where a new world was created by the God Viracocha. And then the Sun, the Moon, Gods, and People, and a whole new Universe. It is from here that its First People, or the “Inca Adam and Eve”, traveled to Cusco to establish a new city, and it was the capital of the Sun civilization ever since. Its importance is also reflected in the name of the city, Qosqo meaning “center or bellybutton” in Quechua.

Cusco in June is a remarkable experience with weeks of festivities and celebrations that culminate on Inti Raymi. The Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun, was a ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the Inti, or Sun God, to greet the Sun and all the abundance and prosperity it is associated with. After Spaniards’ arrival to Peru this festival, as well as local indigenous culture, language and traditions, were banned for centuries, however celebrated clandestinely in order to preserve their culture. Nowadays, this is a magnificent cultural festival, celebrated every year on June 24th, after a winter solstice, and carries on its remarkable heritage and traditions, dating back as far as 1430 AD. During this period the whole city seems to be living and breathing the festivities, with music, singing, dancing, costumes and parades, starting days and even weeks prior to the festival itself. And many people, over 700 dancers, actors and musicians, as well as many travelers from all over the world participating in celebrations.

starting days and even weeks prior to the festival itself

On the day of Inti Raymi travelers and locals gather early in the morning at Avenida del Sol, overlooking the Sun Temple, in order to get better seats, enjoy panoramic area views, and experience one of the most magnificent and colorful Sun festivals in the world  

And it seems to be quite popular among locals and travelers who travel from all over the world just for this cultural celebration

Inti Raymi begins with celebratory processions and arrival of the Royal entourage, all dressed to impress 

And this is where Sun Celebrations begin… Qorikancha, Intiwasa or Temple of the Sun, the most important and prominent temple, dedicated to the Sun God Inti and one the holiest places for the whole Inca civilization

It is also the site of Saint Dominic church, and the place where both belief systems unite and complement each another, at least nowadays. Or you can ask locals in Cusco about the Spaniards 🙂

From there it continues on Main Plaza, or Plaza des Armas, with more celebrations, processions, music and dancing. One of the best ways to experience all the festivities in this location is definitely from one of the cafes and restaurants overlooking the plaza: live entertainment, panoramic views, fun company and a proper meal guaranteed 

And this is Inca Princess and her entourage, adorned with corn and different varieties of potatoes Peru is known for 

Royal Inca and his entourage

From balconies the distinction is clearly visible between all the dancers, musicians and performers, and a rather “blandly” dressed audience, especially with all these bright colors

The final part of the celebrations moves to a different location and culminates at Sacsayhuaman, an ancient Inca fortress, overlooking the city

and it is the most impressive and elaborate part of Inti Raymi, or more exactly a modern version of it, with reenactments of ancient Inca rituals, still performed in ancient Quechua language

Ancient rituals of sacrificing animals and children are a thing of the past, at least this is what we were told… And yes, the llama is alive and healthy!



Have you heard of Inti Raymi, or Sun festival, before?


Enjoy your travels,



All opinions and experiences are, as always, my own. 

For traveler related information and planning visit Official Travel Peru web site.

The post Inti Raymi, Sun Festival and Life Celebrations in Cusco appeared first on Globetrotting Girl

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