Christmas in Cusco: Christmas Market, Foods and Drinks

Wednesday November 22, 2023 | Festivals | Posted by Team About Cusco

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Christmas in Cusco

Are you embarking on a journey to Peru or planning a trip during the Christmas holidays? Cusco stands out as an exceptional destination, particularly during the festive season. For those fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Cusco, the city unfolds a magical experience with its colonial charm and vibrant cultural celebrations. Immerse yourself in the enchanting Christmas ambiance by exploring the Christmas markets, witnessing traditional festivities, and relishing the atmosphere of charming restaurants and bars that come alive during the nights, offering a delightful backdrop to enjoy the incredible Peruvian cuisine. Let’s celebrate Christmas in Cusco!

On the 24th of December, Cusco hosts its grand traditional Christmas market known as Santurantikuy. This lively market showcases a diverse array of traditional Peruvian food, beverages, and authentic Peruvian crafts. Peru, renowned for its rich culinary tradition, doesn’t disappoint during the Christmas season.

Santurantikuy transforms the historic Plaza de Armas into a festive wonderland, attracting local artisans and vendors from neighboring communities. The market becomes a sensory delight, with the enticing aroma of traditional foods, colorful stalls exhibiting intricate textiles and typical crafts, with Christmas carols resonating through the square. Visiting Cusco’s Christmas market is an opportunity to discover feel the Peruvian Christmas atmosphere and lively festivities – a great start to your Christmas in Cusco!

Santurantikuy Traditional Fair Christmas Cusco In addition to the Santurantikuy market, you can also attend the Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass) at the historic Cusco Cathedral for a spiritually enriching experience. To amplify your festive spirit, take a leisurely stroll through the beautifully decorated streets of San Blas, known for its artisan workshops, or embark on a night tour to witness the city lights and decorations.

Cusco’s local restaurants and cafes go the extra mile during Christmas in Cusco, presenting special menus that allow visitors to indulge in the flavors of traditional Peruvian holiday dishes.

What do eat in Cusco for Christmas?

Here’s a glimpse of some traditional Christmas foods and drinks you can expect to find in the restaurants in Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Roast Pork or Turkey:

The traditional Peruvian Christmas dinner often features roast pork (lechón) or turkey, although chicken is also a popular option. These meats are often accompanied by applesauce, tamales, salads, and potato puree.

Rice Dishes:

Rice is a staple in Peruvian cuisine, and during Christmas, it is often served in a variety of ways. From the Asian-influenced chaufa variety to a version made with bacon, almonds, apricots, and a balsamic vinegar sauce, the rice dish is often a highlight of the Christmas meal

Panetón:

The most common sweet item eaten in Peru for Christmas is panetón, a sweet bread loaf filled with raisins and candied fruits
Panetón originally came to Peru from Italy and started becoming a popular Christmas food in the early 1900s. You can buy panetón in Peru all year round, but stores are absolutely full of them in the run-up to Christmas (and for at least a month after Christmas)

Paneton peruvian Christmas food

Algarrobina:

For something more Christmassy, you can try algarrobina, a classic Peruvian pisco cocktail similar to eggnog
It is made with pisco, evaporated milk, condensed milk, egg yolks, and algarrobina syrup, which is made from the fruit of the algarrobo tree.

Arroz Arabe:

This is a rice dish that is often served during Christmas in Peru. It is made with rice, ground beef, onions, garlic, cumin, and raisins, and is often garnished with almonds and parsley

Ensalada Rusa:

Ensalada Rusa, or Russian Salad, is a popular side dish during Christmas in Peru. It is made with boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, and mayonnaise, and is often garnished with hard-boiled eggs and olives

Chicha Morada:

This is a refreshing purple corn drink that is often served during Christmas in Peru. It is made by boiling purple corn with pineapple, cinnamon, and cloves, and is sweetened with sugar or honey

Best places to try traditional Christmas food in Cusco and Machu Picchu.

If you’re looking to try traditional Christmas food in Cusco and Machu Picchu, here are some really nice places to consider:

Paneton peruvian Christmas food

In Cusco:

El Tupay Restaurant:

This restaurant offers a mix of international and Peruvian cuisine, with vegetarian options available. It is located in the Belmond Hotel Monasterio, which is a historic building in the heart of Cusco.

Illariy Restaurant:

This restaurant offers Mediterranean and Peruvian cuisine, with vegetarian options available. It is located in the Palacio del Inka, which is a luxury hotel in Cusco.

La Cusqueñita:

This restaurant is known for its traditional Peruvian dishes, including cuy (guinea pig) and chiriuchu (a cold platter of meats, potatoes, and corn).

Plaza de Armas Cusco Hotel:

This hotel offers a Christmas dinner buffet with traditional Peruvian dishes, including roast pork and turkey, rice dishes, and salads.

Christmas in Cusco typical nativity scene

Restaurants In Machu Picchu:

Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant:

This restaurant is located in the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, which is the only hotel located at the entrance of Machu Picchu. It offers a buffet with a mix of international and Peruvian cuisine, including traditional Christmas dishes.

El Indio Feliz:

This restaurant offers a fusion of Peruvian and French cuisine, with vegetarian options available. It is located in Aguas Calientes, which is the town at the base of Machu Picchu.

Café Inkaterra:

This café is located in the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel and offers a mix of international and Peruvian cuisine, including traditional Christmas dishes
Check the opening hours!

So if you have no plans yet for Chrismas this year? Come to Cusco! Christmas in Cusco and Machu Picchu offers not only a unique cultural experience but also a chance to indulge in traditional Peruvian dishes and drinks. From roast pork and turkey to rice dishes and sweet bread, there is no shortage of delicious food to enjoy during the festive season in Cusco’s amazing restaurants and cafes.

Embracing the warmth of Cusco’s Christmas traditions provides a unique and memorable way to celebrate the holiday season in the heart of the Andes.

Is Machu Picchu open on Christmas?

Absolutely! Machu Picchu is a destination that welcomes visitors throughout the year, remaining open every day, including Christmas and other holidays. By making your reservations in advance, you have the chance to experience the unique charm of spending Christmas at Machu Picchu!

It’s not just Machu Picchu; all Inca sites remain accessible on Christmas Day. This aligns with the historical fact that the Incas didn’t observe Christmas. When you visit Machu Picchu on Christmas, it resembles any other day, devoid of Christmas trees or decorations.

Keep in mind that December marks the beginning of the rainy season in Cusco, so occasional rainfall is possible. While the weather is cooler compared to the rest of the year, the landscape becomes lush and green. Typically, rain doesn’t persist throughout the day.

Additionally, note that Christmas in Cusco is a popular celebration. Securing hotel reservations well in advance, especially for something unique, is advisable. The allure of Christmas in Peru is distinctive because Peru itself holds a special place, ensuring your Christmas experience here is truly memorable.

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