FESTIVALS IN CUSCO
The Most Known Festivals Are:
The Italian phrase “Carne vali” derived to Carnival and 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 fun and often annoying custom of playing with water and throwing water balloons and powder at each other – or anyone!
HOLY WEEK (or easter)
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. It generally consists of music concerts and beer drinking. 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 5000m. Located 80 Km from Cusco and in nighttime reaching temperatures below -4°C, here people pay homage to Christian and Pre-colonial customs. The mountain gods (or Apus), 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 the world.
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 locals 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 jungle.
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 the 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 including 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.