The city of Cusco, Peru, is always a popular destination among travelers from all around the globe. However, instead of choosing a random date to visit, why not also witness one of the
biggest annual Inca festivals, Inti Raymi, known otherwise as the Festival of the Sun? A festive week celebrating the Sun God, Inti, this event is held annually in the month of June. Hundreds of thousands of travelers would gather in Cusco to experience this cultural event; interested in becoming one of them? Read more below.
What is Inti Raymi?
Inti Raymi is an Inca religious ceremony that is celebrated during the winter solstice, when the sun is furthest from the Earth. It is believed that this ceremony was held because the Incas feared that they would not have enough sun, so they prayed and sacrificed animals in hopes that the sun would return. The word ‘Inti’ means sun and ‘raymi’ means festival in the Inca language, Quechua. The Inti Raymi is now a very popular theatre reenactment and has become the second largest festival in South America.
The Inti Raymi experience
The Inti Raymi festivities are held for a week long during both day and night. During this particular week, there are daily expositions, street fairs, people dancing in the streets, etc. Any traveler walking around the main areas of the city, such as Plaza de Armas and Plaza de San Francisco, will definitely encounter crowds everywhere.
The peak of Inti Raymi is on June 24th, where the actual reenactment of the ceremony is conducted. The ceremony is divided into three main parts at three different locations: Koricancha (the square in front of the Santo Domingo church), Plaza de Armas, and Sacsayhuamán. Hundreds of actors are chosen to play different roles, i.e. the Emperor, high priests, officials of the court, nobles, etc. They are dressed in beautiful traditional garments and would sing, dance, and pray during the entire ceremony.
Enjoying Inti Raymi
Planning to witness Inti Raymi from start to finish can be a struggle on its own since the ceremony starts from 10am to approximately 4pm. Furthermore, getting from one place to another for the ceremonies can be challenging; the first two sites can be reached on foot, but the third site (Sacsayhuamán) is located outside of the city and it would take about an hour for one to hike up there. The third ceremony includes a ticket for the assigned seating, which costs begin from 100 USD, and can only be bought through the official government website.
The easiest way to enjoy Inti Raymi would definitely be with a tour because then you won’t need to worry about the ticket, transportation, and food. The cost of this tour might be more than you are willing to spend if you are on a budget, but it is worth it if one really wants to get the full experience of Inti Raymi. There plenty of tours to choose from, so be sure to do research before getting this option.
If you are interested to participate in all three ceremonies, there are precautions that you should consider. The climate in Cusco during the festival is very sunny since the festival itself is chosen when the sun is at its highest point. However, the wind is actually very chilly, so it would be wise to bring sunscreen, water, a hat and a jacket or sweater. Be very careful with your belongings during the ceremony since there are thousands of people at the sites, especially the first two ceremonies, as there are no assigned seats.
Get ready for Inti Raymi 2016!
Now you know more about this special festival, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for a destination next summer or you have plans to visit Peru, why not during Inti Raymi? There are tons of festivities and an opportunity to witness the biggest festival in the Inca culture. Be sure not to miss it!
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.