The Italian phrase "Carne vali" derived to Carnival was used to
describe the colorful parades that took place in European cities
throughout the ages. This custom was brought to the "new world" by
immigrants; the Spanish, Italians and French. Carnival parades are
not as popular in Peru as they are in other South American countries
but there is the funny and often annoying custom of playing with and
throwing water and powder at each other.
Holy Week celebrates the resurrection of Christ and is very well
attended by the people of Cusco and indeed throughout Peru. There
are processions in the streets and plazas and even mock crucifixions.
Shrines are carried by devotees through the streets with bands and
thousands of onlookers. This is indeed an impressive spectacle.
The festival of Cruz Velacuy (Velacuy Cross) is the day of the
Catholic crosses in Cusco and in many outlying villages. The date of
the festival is not specific as it can vary between May and June.
The beer festival held in May every year in Cusco now has an
international reputation. Artists such as Laura Pausini have been
entertaining the vast crowds during the last few years. Come and
visit Cusco during the festival and experience this great event.
The Quechua name Qoyllor Ritt´i means "Ice Star" and not "the Lord
of Ice" which is a common mistake. This festival takes place on the
frozen and icy slopes of the huge Ausangate mountain at altitudes of
around 5000 meters. Located 80 Km from the Cusco and in nighttime
temperatures below -4°C people pay homage to Christian and
Prehispanic customs. The mountain gods, the stars and Christ are all
worshipped at the same time. A pilgrimage takes place which involves
men carrying blocks of ice on their backs for miles and around them
colorful dances take place.
The ceremony originally took place in Peru during the Inca Empire
with the mummified bodies of ancient Inca emperors. When the
Spaniards conquered the empire they tried to abolish this festival
by burning all the mummies, changed them to Christian Saints and
other Catholic images. During the modern day festival there are many
processions through the streets of the old city. Images of Christ
and the saints are carried by pilgrims from one church to another.
Special food is prepared for the day and everyone eats in the
streets at stalls. The dish is called "Chiri Uchu" and means "cold
spicy dish" and contains ingredients from all of the regions of the
ancient Inca empire such as cuy (guinea pig), cheese, partridge (replaced
by chicken today), seaweed, fish eggs, ham and toasted corn. This is
today accompanied by copious amounts of beer.
means "The festival of the Sun", and during the days of the Inca
empire was the most important day of the year. The festival takes
place during the Winter Solstice, on the day after the longest night
in the Southern hemisphere. The festival represents the rebirth of
the sun god Inti and in the ancient empire all fireplaces of the
city were put out and the "starter fire" was lit in the Koricancha
temple which was then taken to light fires all over the city. Today
the festival is still celebrated and draws visitors from all over
Virgen del Carmen
This is the most important festival held in the town of Paucartambo
close to Cusco. The "Mamacha Carmen" festival takes place with
townspeople performing 15 different dances for four days
non-stop!!!!. Free food and drinks are offered at every opportunity
by the people in charge of each dance. Close by is the Tres Cruces
viewpoint where you can often see spectacular sunrises over the
The Army of Independence, commanded by the charismatic Argentine
General Jose de San Martin, took control of Lima on the 15th of July
1821 and together with the most important men in Peruvian society
claimed ideological independence (political independent was not yet
achieved). Political independence from Spain was achieved on the
28th of July 1821.
Initiation Ceremony - Warachicuy
Every year at age 13 boys belonging to the Inca Empire underwent an
intiation ceremony to celebrate coming of age and greater
responsibility within the family and empire as a whole. The ceremony
took the form of different contests, not simply to prove bravery,
but also to test skills such as building, drawing, management and
command skills, arts and other disciplines.
This fiesta takes place near the town of Calca in the heart of the
Sacred Valley and recalls the legend of Uno Urco or "The Water of
Urco", directly related to the fortunes of agriculture in the Sacred
Valley. The son of Inca Wiracocha, Urco Huaranca, offered his
daughter to the first man who could construct water channels in the
area which would irrigate the fields and feed the population.
"TODOS LOS SANTOS" : November 1st "Quilla Raymi" : Full Moon of December "SANTURANTICUY" : December 24th