Paucartambo: Festivities begin in honor of the Virgin of Carmen

Paucartambo in Cusco, Peru, celebrates the Virgin of Carmen grandly from July 15 to 18.

Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo Cusco | TreXperience
The festivities kick off with dance troupes.
Virgen del Carmen Cusco | TreXperience
Capped off by a fireworks display at night.

Paucartambo is located 2,900 meters above sea level, two hours from Cusco, this charming town is known for its Catholic fervor. The festivities for the Virgin of Carmen are held annually from July 15 to 18, and they honor "Mamacha Carmen," the patron saint of mestizos, deeply revered by the community. 

Origin and meaning

The celebration originated in the 17th century when the Virgin's image was sent from Spain to Paucartambo. It symbolized enduring Catholic devotion and draws thousands of faithful tourists each year. 

Main activities:

  • July 15: The festivities kick off with dance troupes entering the church atrium, followed by a wake mass.
  • July 16: A procession with the Virgin travels through town streets, accompanied by dancers and musicians, capped off by a fireworks display at night.
  • July 17: A visit to the cemetery and the "Guerrilla," a symbolic battle between angels and demons.
  • July 18: The Virgin of Carmen blesses the faithful from the Carlos III bridge, concluding with a heartfelt farewell ceremony.

The celebration includes masses, processions, traditional dances, and cultural events, with pilgrimages and acts of faith highlighting its spiritual significance.

*Daily masses are held at the Virgin of Carmen Sanctuary in Cusco until July 14. The festivities officially start on July 15 and feature the movement of the Maq’tas and traditional dances.