The Inti Raymi is the most important religious festival of the Incas. It is celebrated on June 24, the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. The festival is 1 day (in the Inca’s Time was15 days) and includes a series of events and ceremonies.
The Inti Raymi originated in the year 1430, during the Pachacutec government. The festival was dedicated to the sun god (Inti in quechua language). The festival is celebrated in the Cusco city, in the Qorikancha, temple of the sun.
Although the Inti Raymi is a religious festival, it is also an opportunity to dance, sing and enjoy with family and friends. If you are interested in the Sun festival, here we have the necessary information for you.
¿What is Inti Raymi?
Inti Raymi is an ancestral and religious festival of the Incas that takes place annually to honor the Sun god (Inti in Quechua language), who was considered the god of the Andean worldview. The ritual includes several ceremonies and activities aimed at expressing gratitude to the Sun and asking for a good harvest during the next agricultural period. It is a festival deeply rooted in the indigenous communities of South America and is celebrated by thousands of people every year.
The Inti Raymi History
In the Inca Period
During the winter solstice, on June 24, the Inca Empire celebrated the Inti Raymi. The torches were extinguished during the eve to honor the sunrise. When it dawned the next day, the Tahuantinsuyo inhabitants filled happily the streets, giving offerings to the sun god and mentioning him as the winner.
The Cusco city, capital of the Tahuantinsuyo, was the ideal place to meet and celebrate in style. The festival was held by the Incas for up to 15 days, and more than 50,000 people traveled from all corners to join tho the empire. This great commemoration served as a manifestation of gratitude to the Sun god; The Incas paid homage not only for successful harvests, but also for offering them the various resources that the land provided.
The witnesses of that time describe a unique Inca Festival that has lasted in our memory until today. The festivities were presided over by the music and dances of the villagers, accompanied by pre-Hispanic dishes made with jora (corn beer) and llama meat, as well as the sacred sacrifice of hundreds of llamas. One could feel the enthusiasm, fun, and intimacy among those present, since it was an important moment to preserve the Inca identity.
During the arrival of the Spanish
The Inti Raymi had a great change with the arrival of the Spanish, in 1572 when Viceroy Francisco de Toledo prohibited the celebration, considering it a pagan activity. But this has not stopped the local people, who have celebrated the sun festival clandestinely ever since.
Later, the Peruvian writer and actor Francisco Espinoza made a tribute to the sun based on the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega books. Since 1944, the Inti Raymi is celebrated today based on that tribute.
Lastly, in Peru, the Inti Raymi festival was declared as Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2001.
How is Inti Raymi celebrated?
The Inti Raymi is a festival celebrated on the summer solstice according to the Inca calendar. The ceremony begins with a purifying ritual and healthy offerings to the Inca gods to ask for their blessing before giving gratitudes to the Sun. These celebrations also include activities such as the interpretation of songs, traditional dances, folkloric competitions and ancestral dances.
Why is Inti Raymi important?
The Inti Raymi is an ancient Inca celebration that takes place at the beginning of each year. It is meant to honor the Sun god and be part of the wider Inca tradition and culture. During this ceremony, offerings are made with the aim of giving gratitudes for divine protection during the past year, and asking for blessings for the next. Furthermore, this festival is an important economic symbol that reflects spirituality, cultural identity and interpersonal interaction between people.
The Inti Raymi today
The celebration has changed over the years and currently includes a set of activities that take place in different parts of the Cusco city.
The staging begins with the greeting of dawn in the Qorikancha Temple. Next, a meeting full of symbolism takes place in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, where an actor representing the Inca greets the current ruler of the imperial city: the mayor of Cusco.
To complete the tour, attendees go to the Sacsayhuamán fortress to witness the annual representation of Inti Raymi. This impressive display of art and culture consists of a staging that includes more than 750 actors dressed as Inca characters. The ceremony is similar to the original, with activities filled with colorful dances and ancient melodies.
How can I participate in the Inti Raymi?
The Inti Raymi is one of the most significant celebrations in Cuzco, Peru. To participate in the event, You must to register on the official site and choose your grandstand. The fee will vary depending on the grandstand.
How much does it cost to see the Inti Raymi?
After talking about what Inti Raymi is and how it is celebrated, now it is time to talk about the details of what it costs and how you can plan to attend. When You go to Cusco to see Inti Raymi, you have to consider the costs of tickets, lodging, meals, and anything else you want to do while you are in the city.
Tickets for the Inti Raymi in the Sacsayhuman esplanade are between $180 USD to $240 USD American Dollars depending on the tribune you choose, the staging in the main square and the Qoricancha temple is free for the general public.
More information for visiting tourists
- Consider that there are no seats available for the Inti Raymi shows in the Qoricancha and the Plaza de Armas. So, you will have to watch the show standing up. Due to the large number of visitors during the day, we recommend arriving early to find a good spot from which to enjoy it.
- During the month of June, Inti Raymi is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Intense heat during the day requires extra prevention. It is recommended to bring light clothing, a hat, sunscreen and rehydrating water so that the celebration is comfortable and safe.
- The citizens of Cusco and visitors can enjoy the Inti Raymi from a different perspective, if they choose to appreciate the spectacle from the surrounding slopes of Sacsayhuaman. Only tourists with purchased tickets are allowed to sit on the stands, prepared for this historic moment.
- The Inti Raymi is represented in three sections throughout the day: 9:00 am in Qoricancha, 11:00 am in Plaza de Armas and 13:30 in the afternoon in Sacsayhuaman. To fully enjoy the show, it is recommended to arrive in advance at each of these places.