The Inti Raymi, also known as the Festival of the Sun, was one of the most important festivals in the Inca Empire. It was dedicated to the sun god, Inti, who was highly revered in the Inca culture. The festival marked the winter solstice, and it was celebrated annually on June 24th in Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire.
The Inti Raymi festival was not only a time of celebration but also a time of thanksgiving and dedication. The Incas thanked Inti for the year's harvest and asked for his blessing for the coming year. The festivities involved feasting, dancing, music, and animal sacrifices to please the gods and ensure a fruitful harvest.
The most important festival of the Inca Empire: The Inti Raymi
Yearly, on June 24th, the great Inti Raymi takes place in Cusco. This is the biggest celebration of the God Inti since the Inca times. It remarks on the beginning of the year and the winter solstice. Let's learn more about this traditional festival.
What is Inti Raymi Festival?
The Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun, was the largest and most important festival in the Inca Empire. It is a celebration dedicated to the sun god, Inti, who was a central deity in the Inca religion. The festival is held during the winter solstice when the sun is furthest from the earth. The Incas celebrated it to plead for the return of the sun and longer days.
The Spanish Conquistadors banned the festival in the 16th century, as they sought to convert the native people to Catholicism and suppress their traditional religious practices.
However, in 1944, the festival was revived in a historical reenactment form. Today, the Inti Raymi festival is celebrated annually on June 24th in Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, and is one of the most popular traditional festivals in Peru. The modern celebration includes a theatrical representation of the ancient rituals, traditional music and dances, and colorful costumes, drawing both local residents and tourists from around the world. The main celebrations are held in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco and at the Sacsayhuaman archeological site nearby.
Approximately 25,000 people, including actors, dancers, and musicians – typically dressed well, perform different activities outside the Coricancha complex, Sacsayhuaman, and in the Plaza of Arms of the Cusco.
Many speeches were delivered during the festival in Quechua, an ancient Incan language. Quechua is a unifying and widely spoken language in Peru. It is one of three official languages in Peru.
Inti Raymi during Inca Times:
During the time of the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important religious festival of the year. Celebrated at the winter solstice on June 21st, the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight, it was a time for the Inca to honor the sun god, Inti, who was a central figure in their religious pantheon.
The festival took place in Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, and would last for nine days. It involved fasting, sacrifices, processions, dances, and a great feast. Only the Inca and his wife, the Coyas, priests, and nobility were allowed to participate in the ceremonies, but the celebrations were public.
The festival began with a procession in which the Inca, carried on a golden throne, led his people from the Coricancha, or Temple of the Sun, to the Sacsayhuamán fortress outside of Cusco. The Inca was followed by nobles and priests, all dressed in their finest clothes and many carrying golden objects symbolizing the sun.
Once at Sacsayhuamán, the Inca would start a new fire using a mirror to catch the sun's rays. This new fire was then spread to all the temples and shrines in the empire, symbolizing the rebirth of the sun.
Animal sacrifices, typically llamas, were made to the sun god, and priests examined their entrails to predict the future. There were also dances and songs to honor Inti, and the festivities concluded with a large feast where maize (corn) beer, known as chicha, was drunk.
The festival was a time for the Inca to give thanks to Inti for the year's harvests and to ask for his blessings for the coming year. It also reaffirmed the bond between the sun god and the Inca, who was considered his living representative on Earth.
Inti Raymi Today:
The original date of the Inti Raymi festival was closely tied to the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, which falls around June 21st. The Inca, who deeply understood astronomy, held the festival to mark the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the sun's return to a more favorable position in the sky.
However, the festival's exact date was changed to June 24th, as this date had been declared "Day of the Indian" by the administration of President A. Legua. In addition, June 24 was a non-working day due to the celebration of San Juan (Catholic feast day of St. John the Baptist), which facilitated the public's attendance.
The modern Inti Raymi festival starts in the morning at the Qoricancha, the ancient Inca Temple of the Sun, now part of the Santo Domingo Convent. Here, actors play out the first part of the ceremony, with an actor representing the Sapa Inca (the Inca emperor) paying homage to the sun.
The procession then moves to the main square, Plaza de Armas, where the Sapa Inca calls on the blessings from the sun. The final and main part of the festival takes place in the afternoon at the large, open-air fortress of Sacsayhuaman, just on the outskirts of Cusco.
At Sacsayhuaman, the ceremony follows the traditional rituals as closely as possible, with prayers, offerings, and a simulated llama sacrifice (no actual llamas are harmed in the modern celebration). This grand spectacle is conducted entirely in the Quechua language, the language of the Incas, and the performers wear traditional Inca clothes.
While the festival is a theatrical reenactment rather than a religious ceremony, it is still a significant cultural event. It attracts tourists and helps Peruvians connect with their Inca roots and celebrate their heritage. It's a festival filled with color, music, and dance, and one of Peru's most important traditional celebrations.
Inti Raymi – A Cultural Heritage
The Incas are successful in their expression and exposure to modern and ancient art. Despite the creeping in of globalization, the Incas have successfully preserved and developed their proud culture.
On March 2nd, 2001, the joyful religious Inti Raymi festival was declared as the cultural heritage of Peru. The festival is an extensive and diverse combination of traditional indigenous styles. Currently, it is managed and organized by the Provincial Municipality of Cusco.
Furthermore, Inti Raymi has become a major tourist attraction in Peru, drawing visitors from around the world. This not only supports the local economy but also raises international awareness and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the Andean people.
Why should you visit the Festival of the Sun?
On June 24th, thousands of national and international tourists walk through Cusco's fascinating and historic streets to witness the worth of Inti Raymi. It is a religious festival, not only observed by the people of Cusco but followed by the Andes population and thousands of tourists worldwide.
You will be happy to hear that no more sacrifices are made at this festival. It is an important time to celebrate Peruvian music and perform authentic folk dances wearing colorful outfits with bright embroidered skirts, jewelry, and weavings to metal and stone carvings. Some locals wear beautiful animal costumes, including snakes. Tourists attend it with great zeal and fervor.
The festival draws thousands of local and international visitors to Cusco to celebrate the most important festival on the calendar. The most important aspects of the Inti Raymi festival are:
Attending the Inti Raymi festival provides a deeply enriching cultural experience. As one of Peru's most significant traditional celebrations, the festival allows visitors to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the Andean people and their Inca ancestors.
The festival includes vibrant and colorful performances, with hundreds of performers wearing traditional Inca costumes. The theatrical reenactment of the ancient rituals is a grand spectacle involving music, dance, processions, and even a simulated llama sacrifice.
The festival takes place in historic locations in Cusco, including the ancient Inca Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha), the city's main square (Plaza de Armas), and the Sacsayhuamán archaeological site. This allows visitors to explore these significant sites while experiencing the festival.
The festival takes place in and around Cusco, a city that sits high in the Andes Mountains. The city and its surroundings offer breathtaking scenery; the festival is an excellent reason to visit this beautiful part of the world.
Meet New People
The festival attracts visitors worldwide, making it a great place to meet and interact with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. It also provides a chance to connect with the local people and learn about their customs and way of life.
With its colorful costumes, dramatic performances, and historical settings, the festival offers fantastic opportunities for photography.
What to Expect during the Inti Raymi Festival?
Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, is a grand celebration in Cusco, Peru, featuring a full day of festivities. If you plan to attend, here's what you can expect:
Places to Visit
Although there is no official seating here for viewing the festival, there are plenty of standing rooms that you can utilize to observe the festival itself, which takes place in the gardens just outside of the temple with mesmerizing and fascinating views.
You only need to arrive early for the best views and an excellent beginning!
In Plaza de Armas:
Though cordoned off for the festivities, you’ll still find space around the colonial arcades to view the enthralling ceremony. Due to the limited space in the plaza, you need to be prepared to stand in crowds.
If you plan to view Inti Raymi, arrive at a pre-booked table at a local cafe or restaurant, balcony, and other best vantage points.
Enjoy the drink, and watch from there!
Locals who cannot afford high pricing choose to watch Inti Raymi from two hills that overlook the festivities. The best and most effective way to watch the ceremony is to book through a local guide and enjoy; grandstand seating, which is sold on a priority basis, or you can join local Peruvians and view the festival from two local parks.
What is an expected itinerary?
9:00 am start of the festivity in the Temple of the Sun Qoricancha
Here the Inca, together with La Qoya and La Realeza, salutes the god Inti, invoking the success of the ceremony. "Oh, sun god, our father! Powerful Sun of eternal happiness, warm source, the principle of life! From this, your sacred mansion in Cusco, where you live with the Moon, Lightning, and Thunder, your children of the Empire of the Four Regions, greet you reverently on your jubilee day”.
10:30 a.m. Plaza de Armas Cusco
Once the first part of the Inti Raymi in the Qoricancha is finished, the Inca, his Royal Entourage, and the Imperial Army go in a procession to the Plaza de Armas through old Inca streets such as Calle Loreto, and it arrives right at Aucaypata. There, the Ñustas, Aqllas (chosen), and the entire imperial army are already positioned in the Plaza de Armas to wait for the Inca. Here the Inca as the highest ruler of the empire performs the Coca ceremony and makes an invocation to the Apus.
1:45 p.m. Chuquipampa or Sacsayhuman Esplanade
After the Coca ceremony in the Plaza del Aucaypata, the cast heads towards the esplanade of the archaeological park of Sacsayhuamán, where around 80,000 people and approximately 3,500 tourists who purchased their seats in the stands installed on the esplanade, awaited the central ceremony.
Be warm and prepared for crowds, and bring everything you need for the day, with plenty of food, water, and sun protection!
First come, first served!
Inti Raymi FAQs
What is the Inti Raymi festival?
Inti Raymi is a traditional Incan festival that celebrates the Sun God, Inti. It is held annually on June 24th in Cusco, Peru. The festival involves music, dancing, processions, and ritualistic ceremonies.
When is the Inti Raymi festival celebrated?
Inti Raymi is celebrated annually on June 24th, which is around the time of the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.
Where does the Inti Raymi festival take place?
The festival takes place in Cusco, Peru. The main ceremonies are held in the fortress of Sacsayhuamán, which is just outside of the city.
Why is the Inti Raymi festival celebrated?
Inti Raymi is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year between sunrise and sunset.
What happens during Inti Raymi?
The modern Inti Raymi festival involves a reenactment of traditional Inca rituals, including a procession, music, dancing, and feasting. The most important part of the event is the theatrical representation of ancient rituals performed at the Sacsayhuaman archaeological site.
Was Inti Raymi banned?
The Spanish conquerors banned Inti Raymi in the 16th century due to their efforts to convert the indigenous people to Catholicism. However, the festival was revived in the 20th century and is now celebrated as a cultural event.
How can I attend the Inti Raymi festival?
To attend the Inti Raymi festival, you need to travel to Cusco, Peru, around June 24th. You can watch the processions and ceremonies for free, but if you want a seat in the main viewing area at Sacsayhuamán, you will need to buy a ticket.
Can tourists attend Inti Raymi?
Yes, tourists can attend Inti Raymi. In fact, it's a major tourist attraction in Cusco. However, visitors are asked to respect the cultural significance of the event.
What does Inti Raymi mean to the people of Peru today?
For many Peruvians, especially those of indigenous descent, Inti Raymi is a celebration of their cultural heritage and a way to connect with their Inca roots. It's also an important event for promoting tourism in the region.
How can I best experience Inti Raymi?
To experience Inti Raymi, plan to visit Cusco in late June. The festival is free to watch in the streets, but ticketed seats are available at the main ceremony site in Sacsayhuaman. Booking in advance is recommended due to the popularity of the event.
Is the Inti Raymi festival safe to attend?
Yes, the Inti Raymi festival is generally safe to attend. However, like any large public gathering, attendees are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and take standard travel precautions.
Can I take photographs during the festival?
Yes, you can take photographs during the festival. However, it's important to respect the performers and other attendees by not disrupting the ceremonies.
What should I wear to the Inti Raymi festival?
As the festival takes place in winter, it's a good idea to dress in layers. The mornings can be cool, but it can become quite warm in the afternoon sun. Comfortable shoes are also recommended as you may need to stand or walk for long periods.
What is the history of the Inti Raymi festival?
The Inti Raymi festival was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire that has been revived in modern times. It was originally celebrated by the Inca, their nobles, and their subjects in the city of Cusco. With the Spanish conquest, the festival was banned for its pagan roots but was revived in the 20th century and is now one of Peru's most popular festivals.
i dont know
Inta Raymi is a really cool holiday
it is a very cultural and worthwhile holiday. (I would definitely recommend it!)
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