The city of Cusco literally has layers of culture. At its base is a Killke layer, topped by Incan, topped by Spanish. Given all these powerful cultural traditions, it’s small wonder Cusco is host to hundreds of festivals every year—there’s just a lot to celebrate.
Even the celebrations are layered. Those that are Christian in origin—usually honoring a patron saint—manage to blend in magical beliefs and ancient traditions.
Naturally, Cusco celebrates the traditional Christian holidays like Holy Week, Carnival and Christmas, but it also celebrates the feast of “Señor de los Temblores” (Lord of the Earthquakes).
In nearby Puacartambo, people come from all over the world to take part in the town’s colorful Virgin del Carmen Festival.
There is, arguably, no festival that better reflects the culture and character of the city than the Inti Raymi or Feast of the Sun. During Incan times, this was the most important festival of the year, celebrating the winter solstice, and honoring the Inti, god of the sun.
When the Spaniards conquered Cusco, they outlawed Inti Raymi, and the festival lay dormant until 1944, when a group of artists decided to resurrect it as a celebration of arts and theater, which it remains today.
If you’d like to attend Inti Raymi, start planning soon; the festival begins on June 24. The trip here can help you get to Cusco, whether it’s in time for the festival, or any time at all.