Start: 24 June 2022
End: 24 June 2022

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Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru

GPS: -13.507266775508, -71.982386626736

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Inti Raymi is the Celebration of the Sun in the Quechua language, the most important Inca festival. This ancient Andean religious ceremony is hold every June 24th in Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyu), in honour of the sun god Inti.

This event also refers to the origins of the Inca people. Inti Raymi is an opportunity for the inhabitants to thank the Father Sun (Inti, son of the creator deity Viracocha) and Mother Earth (the goddess Pachamama) for the abundance of arable land.

The Inca emperor Pachacútec created this ceremony for the first time in the 15th century. It lasted several days to the rhythm of dances and sacrifices (human and animal) in the main square of Cuzco (Haukaypata). Three days before the beginning of the festivities, as a purification, the adults had to avoid any sexual intercourse and only raw white corn could be eaten with a grass called chucam.

Inti Raymi is held every winter solstice in June when the sun is furthest from the Earth (this is both the shortest day and the longest night of the year). This event corresponds to the first day in the Inca solar calendar and coincides with the beginning of the corn harvest among the pre-Hispanic populations of the Andes, including the Incas, Quechua and Aymara. At the time of the empire, incantations are led by the Inca priest to call for the return of the sun.

A procession gives rise to an abundance of colour, costumes, dance and traditional music using pututos (wind instruments made from a mollusc shell), quepas (a kind of trumpet made from hollow cane) and tinyas (small leather drums used as percussion instruments).

Various rites and offerings (invocation to the sun, sacred fire, distribution of chicha, sacred bread, llama sacrifice…) animate the Sun Festival, a spectacle that is very popular with the local communities and which is part of the Peruvian national cultural heritage.

Each Andean community has its own traditions and customs in the celebration of Inti Raymi, the great Festival of the Sun. The large number of actors and participants represent the diversity of the populations that made up the Inca Empire (which extended over 4,000 kilometres along the Andes at its peak) and which gathered to honour the sun god Inti. A week of festivities continues at the end of the festival in Cuzco (entertainment, concerts, funfair…).

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  • The popular enthusiasm for a centuries-old event that is celebrated in many South American countries (Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia)
  • The quality of the costumes and accessories (ornaments, weapons, fabrics, musical instruments…) presented through rites and historical reconstitution in the presence of thousands of participants in Quechua
  • All-day dance, theatre and musical performances
  • The myths and legends surrounding the Inti Raymi celebration, the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán, the historic centre of Cusco and the Inca civilisation
  • Traditionally, the Inti Raymi festivities are held in three historical places in Cusco. The ceremony begins in the morning at the Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) to invoke the Sun God. It continues at the Haukaypata (public square renamed Plaza de Armas by the conquistadors) with the rite of the coca. Finally, it ends on the esplanade of the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuamán, where a great spectacle of several hours takes place (parades, dances, songs, rites, offerings and sacrifices).
  • Two festivals per year were celebrated at that time: the wawa inti raymi (festival of the child Sun) at the winter solstice and the capaq inti raymi (festival of the great Sun) at the summer solstice. Today this event is only organized on the winter solstice, which coincides with a new agricultural cycle and the beginning of potato planting.
  • The last Celebration of the Sun conducted under the aegis of an Inca emperor took place in 1535 (under the reign of Manco Inca Yupanqui). It was declared forbidden and then definitively abolished in 1572 by the fifth Viceroy of Peru, the Spaniard Francisco de Toledo, who considered it contrary to the Catholic faith. Despite this, it continued to be celebrated clandestinely by the Andean populations. Inti Raymi was officially re-established in 1944.
  • Book your accommodation in Cusco several months in advance.
  • Festival tickets are usually sold 1 or 2 days before the event.
  • Admission is charged to attend the main ceremony on the esplanade of the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán. To be part of the audience, you have to pay €70-100 per adult and €35-50 per child.

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