If you’re looking to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and have always dreamed of exploring Peru, you may want to consider planning your trip to coincide with the annual Inti Raymi festival. Especially if you have an interest in ancient cultures and cultural celebrations. Inti Raymi is also known as the Festival of the Sun and is a pagan celebration which dates back to height of the Incan Empire.
So if you’re truly interested in getting off the beaten tourist track and experiencing one of the world’s most colorful festivals, continue reading to discover everything you need to know about attending Inti Raymi next year.

Everything you need to know abut Inti Raymi:

Everything you need to know abut Inti Raymi

Did you know that the ancient Incans chose to build their cities and temples high up in the mountains, so that they could be closer to the sun god?
In ancient times, the Incans feared winter and the absence of the sun. So, in the hopes of appeasing the sun god the ancient Inca would plan elaborate feats in his honor, hoping for a short winter.
In ancient times, the Incans feared winter and the absence of the sun. So, in the hopes of appeasing the sun god the ancient Inca would plan elaborate feats in his honor, hoping for a short winter.

In ancient times the Inca believed that the only way to ensure that the sun god could be persuaded to return in spring was to offer him sacrifices.

Whilst valuable animals such as llamas were frequently scarified to the gods, the Inca also offered up human sacrifices in order to gain favor with the sun god. Don’t worry though, if you’re interested in visiting Cusco, to take part in the Inti Raymi festivities, you don’t have to worry about witnessing blood shed as whilst there will be “human sacrifices”, they’ll be theatrical performances. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll also be relieved to read that no animals are scarified as part of modern day Inti Raymi celebrations.

The rituals of Inti Raymi:
On the 24th of June each year a group of actors is hand selected by the festival organizers, to perform the rituals of Inti Raymi. These rituals are the highlight of the festival and are attended by hundreds of eager festival goers. To see the rituals of Inti Raymi played out, head to the Korincancha Square, which is located in front of the Santo Domingo Church.

During the day long performance, actors will take on the roles of Incan royalty. However, the two central roles are that of the sun god Sapa Inca and his beautiful, ethereal wife Mama Ocllo. To be hand picked to play either role is one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed upon a Peruvian actor.

During the performance the actor portraying the sun god Sapa Inca will be placed on a throne and carried to the Sacsayhuamen, which is an ancient fortress, which overlooks Cusco. However, the king won’t travel to Sacsayhuamen alone as he’ll be joined by a large parade of actors, playing various members of Incan royalty. Expect to see a variety of beautiful, bright traditional costumes on parade.

Once the royal procession reaches the stairs of the fortress the sun god Sapa Inca will give a speech, before letting other members of the procession speak to the crowds. After Sapa Inca addresses his audience he’ll hand over the reigns to the representatives of the Suyos. Examples of which will include a serpent from the underworld, a puma, which represents earthly creatures and a condor who represents the heavens. If you’re a fan of ornate costumes, you won’t be disappointed when you spot the representatives of the Suyos in all of their finery.

Once each representative has spoken, a white llama will be ceremoniously “sacrificed” to the goddess who referred to as Earth Mother. If you’re a little shocked, just remember that no llamas will come to harm during the reenactment as props are used instead of a live llama. The llama’s “beating heart” then will be held up to the Earth Mother by a high priest, in the hope that she will bless the Incans with a fertile season of crops.

Festivities:
Inti Raymi is a week long celebration, which offers something for everyone. If you’re a keen shopper or foodie you’ll enjoy getting lost in the throngs of tourists and locals, in the festival’s street fairs. If you’re a fan of world music, you’ll also be well catered to as Inti Raymi boasts a variety of public concerts. Most of which are absolutely free to attend.
When:
Inti Raymi is a nine day celebration which takes place during the winter solstice each June. The pinnacle celebration consists of a day long celebration which is held on the 24th of June. However, it’s well worth making your way to Cusco in time for the start of the festival as there are a variety of events held on each day and it would be a shame to miss out on all the excitement and fun.
Where:
Inti Raymi is held in Cusco, Peru. Cusco is located in the stunning Southern Sierras and once held the title of being the capital city of the Incan Empire. Cusco is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site and is a convenient base to explore the ancient city of Machu Pichu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, both of which are located in close proximity of Cusco.

Whilst staying in Cusco you’ll get the opportunity to view streets lined with beautiful colonial city buildings and will get to stroll through markets where you’ll be able to purchase locally made handicrafts.

When to book your Inti Raymi adventure:

It’s well worth booking your plane flights and hotel accommodation well in advance as the Inti Raymi celebration is one of the most popular festivals in South America and draws thousands of tourists each year. If possible, ensure to start booking your vacation at least six months prior to the festival, which is held in June each year.

So if you’re passionate about getting off the beaten tourist track and experiencing a culture first hand, you won’t regret planning a vacation to Cusco, which coincides with the Inti Raymi festival. By attending the Festival of the Sun, you’ll get to experience what it would’ve been like to live in ancient times at witness a traditional Incan festival.