Inti Raymi: A Chance To Celebrate Like The Incas

Inti Raymi Festival, Cusco, Peru
Inti Raymi Festival

As a Catholic country, Peru hosts a number of faith-based festivals throughout the year. One of the most important of these events is Inti Raymi, which has been going on since Inca times and still takes place annually on June 24th, during Peru’s high tourism season.

Inti is the Quechua word for “sun,” one of the most important gods for the Incas. The ruling Inca was considered to be a descendant of the sun god, helping to position him as the undisputed and autocratic leader of the empire. June 24th was chosen by the Incas as the date for Inti Raymi as it marked the Winter Solstice, the time when the days would begin getting longer. It was also considered to be the beginning of the new year for the Incas.

As with many Incan ceremonies, Inti Raymi was no longer performed after the Spanish conquered the empire; however, in 1944 a re-enactment of this important tradition was performed with the principal festivities taking place at the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán. Since then, it has been performed each year on June 24th, although it is only a one day ceremony, as opposed to the ancient one which lasted for nine days.

The day begins at Qorikancha with dances and processions, the participants making their way from there to Sacsayhuamán above the city. Once at the site, people wishing to enter and view the performance must have purchased a ticket, which is typically offered at three separate tiers of pricing, depending on the type of seat desired.

Whether you choose to see the full performance or just the portions that take place at Qorikancha and the Plaza de Armas, one thing is for sure: You should make your vacation plans well ahead of time to ensure the availability of entrance tickets and hotel rooms.