During the time of the Inca Empire, Inti Raymi was one of the year’s biggest celebrations, and it continues being so today. Set in place by Pachakutec Inka Yupanki, Inti Raymi marked the winter solstice with a series of rituals and general festivities. Although banned by the Spanish after the conquest, it was revived in 1944, following a script based on the chronicles of Inca Garcilaso, which were written shortly after the conquest.
Despite the religious tenor of the Holy Week in Cuzco, the city’s unique Andean spin on the festivities means it’s a fun time for tourists of all backgrounds to enjoy. What can you expect? Fireworks, concerts, and lots of food… It begins with Palm Sunday on March 24th and culminates with Easter Sunday on March 28th, although in contrast to Holy Week celebrations in other cities, in Cuzco the principal day of celebrations is Holy Monday. This is because it’s the day of the Lord of Tremors processions, which we wrote about in our last post.
Here, we’ll talk about the events planned for the main days of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, and Good Friday.
It’s almost time for our biggest event of the year- the New Year’s Eve Party at Pirwa Colonial Hostel in Cusco! This year’s theme is Back to the Future, since 2015 is the year in the future that Marty McFly traveled to. Apparently, the scientists have only six months left to invent Marty’s hoverboard if they’re going to make the summer 2015 deadline….we’re waiting on that.
As always, all of our friends and guests in all Cusco hostels are invited to ring in the New Year with us. Hope to see you there!
When it comes to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Peru’s most popular destination is Cusco. Although you’ll find the city rather deserted on Christmas Day itself (as most businesses stay closed and people spend time with their families), Christmas Eve is very lively. From the early hours of Dec 24th, Peru’s largest folk art fair, Santurantikuy, fills the Plaza de Armas as it has since Incan times. Artisans from throughout the surrounding provinces bring pieces for sale, especially the nativities and Niño Manuelito which have been so popular since the time of the Spanish conquest. (The latter is Cusco’s version of the child Christ, the most traditional version of which is the child sitting in a wooden chair with a wound in his raised foot. Buyers request wishes and insert a thorn in the wound, where it will remain until the wish is granted.) Other products include leather goods, carved wood and stone, leather goods, and decorative ceramics. While browsing the fair, you can warm up with some ponche or hot chocolate and sample some street food. Expect the main square to be very crowded during Santurantikuy, and be wary of pickpockets.
In the evening, most people enjoy a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with their families. (Peruvians consider Christmas Eve to be the main day of celebration, not Christmas Day.) Many restaurants offer set menus for travelers on this night, but they are very pricey by local standards.
All of the guests at our Cusco hostels are invited to join us at our own traditional dinner, this December 24th at 9pm at Pirwa Colonial Hostel. We offer this at cost, which is a third of the price that the same dinner will be selling elsewhere, so that all of us away from home can celebrate Christmas Eve together. (You can find invitations with the details at all of our reception desks.
At midnight, Cusco lights up with fireworks and firecrackers set off by local families. Although much of this clusters around the main square (which can sound like a war zone at this time), you’ll find the noise inescapable throughout the city. If you’re so inclined, you can choose to light a few of your own, as they’ll be on sale along the city streets throughout the day. Wherever and however you choose to spend the day, we hope that all of you have a Christmas filled with holiday cheer.