Last Updated on October 23, 2023
Inti Raymi, or “Festival of the Sun,” is the most important festival in Cusco. It is celebrated every June 24th and is inspired by the Wawa Inti Raymi ceremony established by Pachacutec in honor of the Sun God (Inti, in Quechua) to ensure a year of good harvest and food for the people.
At that time, this ritual began every winter solstice, which falls in June, and lasted for 15 days during which different dances and sacrifices were performed. Additionally, this impressive celebration marks the beginning of a new Inca year.
In 1944, the Cusco government designated June 24th as the Day of Cusco, so that has become the most important on the Cusco’s calendar.
Let´s get to know all the details of this important Peruvian celebration.
How is Inti Raymi celebrated?
Today, Inti Raymi is a colorful and historical celebration whose objective is to reclaim Inca culture. Its importance is such that in 2001, this festivity was declared Cultural Heritage of Peru.
It is a grand performance that features hundreds of actors dressed in traditional clothing of the time, who represent three main events before a large crowd of spectators: the reception of delegations from Los Cuatro Suyos, the encounter of two times or two worlds, and the Festival of the Sun.
Inti Raymi is an important intangible tourist attraction for Peru, as many tourists from different parts of the world come to see this incomparable display of art, history, and mysticism.
Where is Inti Raymi celebrated in Cusco?
There are three stages used in this grand performance:
• Esplanade of the Qorikancha Temple or the Temple of the Sun. This is where the Greeting to the Sun takes place. Here, the Inca receives the energy of the Sun God and the delegations from Los Cuatro Suyos.
• Main Square of Cusco. This is where the Coca Ceremony takes place, where the Inca is carried on a litter by 8 servants and where the “Encounter of Two Times or Two Worlds” takes place between the Ruler of Tahuantinsuyo and the current Ruler of Cusco, that is the Mayor and sometimes the President of Peru is also present.
• Esplanade of the Saqsayhuaman Archaeological Park. This is the main stage and where the ceremony of adoration to the Sun is performed. At this point in the celebration, the Inca and his entourage present their admiration and respects to the Sun. The sacrifice of a camelid is simulated as an offering to ensure prosperity for the coming year.
After these three performances, the entire city of Cusco is invaded by a great spirit of celebration, an incomparable climate of festivity and cheerfulness is experienced and you shouldn’t miss it.
After two years of virtual performances due to the pandemic, this great festival was carried out again in 2022, and for the first time, it had a translation system in 4 languages (Spanish, English, German, and French) that, through an app, allowed visitors to understand the Inca’s message.