Cusco Inti Raymi Festival
Cucso is full of color and bustling life for the once a year Inti Raymi festival. Peruvians from all over the country flock to Cusco for this multi-day festival celebrating the Inca culture. The main celebration happens on the twenty-fourth but there are exciting things happening every day for 10 days or so beforehand.
We checked in to Terra Viva Cusco Centro yesterday and enjoyed a delicious full breakfast this morning, complete with all the coca products to help with altitude sickness: coca leaves, coca jam, and coca tea. Chewing the leaves is like drinking a lot of coffee but without the jitters.
We set out to Ministerio de Cultura to purchase our Machu Picchu entrance tickets, you can only buy them here in Cusco, not in Lima or online beforehand. Make sure you have 128 nuevo soles per person per day. We didn’t have enough so we had to head to the bank to change money. Be warned, banks will only take the newest, crispest bills without even the tiniest tear or wrinkle. Cab drivers are the same. We have a feeling a beggar would hand you back your wrinkled 20 dollar bill. I’ve experienced this before, but it seems like Peruvians are extra picky about the dollars they will accept.
In the street just outside the Plaza de Armas we saw the beginning of an amazing colorful parade at 11:00am. The beginning of the parade has groups of small children dressed in traditional costumes. Each group is different and has a choreographed dance that explains some part of Incan or Cusco history. We think they might be different schools that do the same dance year after year. We watched for hours and the parade kept extending out of sight. In the Plaza they do their main performance for what might be a group of judges and a lot of spectators.
It was truly amazing, take a look:
This guy twirled me around
And this one twirled mom
Some of the spectators were just as adorable as the performers
La Compania de Jesus on the Plaza de Armas
Rainbow flag atop La Catedral. The flag is a symbol of Inti Raymi, not gay pride, but we can pretend.
After watching for about 3 hours we had lunch at Emperedor on the side of Plaza Regocijo. They give you a free pisco sour with your lunch, which was a stuffed avocado with veggies for 20 soles. It was tasty but some of those veggies may have been uncooked, mom felt ill later.
After lunch we discovered the parade was still going, but the groups of children were getting older, now about 10 years old.
This little one was with her older siblings
As you can see the line of kids just keeps on going out of sight, each sign is another group
Then the kids got older still, maybe 13 years old now
We headed back to the hotel to rest for a while and went back out at 7:00pm. The parade was still going! We grabbed a seat on the balcony of Bagdad Cafe to watch. The performer were much older now, perhaps 18 or 19, and their choreography was quite impressive.
The parade ended at 9:00pm. A 10 hour parade! I’ve never seen something so amazing. What a fun day, I love this city! Anyone planning on visiting Cusco should definitely try to be here during this festival.