Debbie Lester sent this posting recently about her families experience at Inti Raymi. Thanks Debbie!
PS Adventure Life has special departures each year that include VIP seating at the event - spaces book up early!
My trip to South America would not have been complete without visiting Cusco, Peru during the Inti Raymi, the festival of the Sun.
Every year on June 24th Cusco comes alive as the second largest festival in South America takes place. Hundreds of thousands of people travel from all over the world to attend the re-creation of the ancient Incan religious ceremony.
The winter solstice was once the most important date on the Incan calendar. Native residents came together to honor the Sun God, because this was the time of the year when the sun was farthest from the Earth. They believed that the lack of sun would ensure famine and they gathered in order to coax the Sun God to return. They sacrificed animals and feasted to ensure good crops and fertile lands.
In 1572 the festival was banned as being too "pagan" and contrary to the Catholic faith. But, the celebration of the Sun God continued underground. In the 1940's the Inti Raymi, was re-invented as a way for Andean's to recapture the spirit and values of their ancestors.
Today the celebration has undergone many changes. The Inti Raymi, is now a week long festival celebrating the new year and culminating on June 24th with a reenactment of the ceremony. Each day of the week long celebration has events from daytime expositions and street fairs to night time free concerts featuring some of the best Peruvian musicians around.
During the preceding year over hundreds of people are chosen to carry out the reenactment of the winter solstice ceremony. This is the center piece of the festival taking place on June 24th. Dressed in full regalia the ceremony proceeds from the Santo Domingo Church all the way to the ruins at the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamn. Speech's are given and a stage act representing the sacrifice of a llama is done. The priests are then said to read the blood stains in order to see the future of the Incan empire.
There are some things to remember if you decide to make Inti Raymi a part of your South American adventure. The festival takes place the week of June 24th every year. The ceremony itself is an all-day event, lasting around 5 or 6 hours. The vibrant colors and beautiful re-creations of the ceremony make for wonderful photographs.
You must book hotels and reservations very far in advance due to the large amounts of people who attend the festival. You don't want to be stuck with no where to stay. Entry into the fortress is free and there are food and drink vendors. But, there are no guard rails around the ruins and several people are injured each year, so you have to be careful of your surroundings and the push of the crowds. It is also sometimes hard to see due to the huge crowds. If you want to see the structures and the Incan building methods you can buy a visitors ticket which is valid for ten days and gets you into fourteen important sites in Cusco.
Attending the Inti Raymi festival in Cusco is a very educational trip where you are able to see one of the great Incan religious ceremonies. You can view Incan building methods and see how the Andean people give honor to their ancestors. It's one of those activities that you will remember for a lifetime.