During the month of June, Cusco and its surrounding areas turn into one big, continuous fiesta. Cusco flags adorn the main Plaza de Armas, traditional music is played continuously, and kids practice their dances in the main squares. All of these details remind the people every day that it is the most important month of the year for Cusco with important festivals, such as: Qoyllur Rit´i, Corpus Christi, and Inti Raymi. The first celebration, Qoyllur Rit´i, is the largest Native Indian celebration in the Americas and takes place in the Sinakara Valley in the southern Andes of Peru.
Qoyllur Rit´i, which comes from Quechua and means “Snow Star”, attracts over 30,000 people from all around to come celebrate. Each year locals, national tourists, and foreigners hike long distances to reach the valley at 15,000 feet above sea level. Most of them come to ask for blessings: good health, safety for family, money for a car, and other material things. The main shrine is stone which was later painted with the image of Christ. All around there are dancers, bands, food stands, and religious trinkets. Near the shrine are Qollas and Ukukus dancing traditional fights by whipping each other´s legs. This year, the festival will begin the second weekend of June with the principal day being Tuesday the 17th when the main procession of the shrine Señor de Qoyllur Rit´i takes place. There are several travel agencies in Cusco that offer different tours from Cusco to el Sr. de Qoyllur Rití
The festival can last up to 3 days with devoted dancers, musicians, and believers sleeping little in order to not miss a moment of this religious ceremony. Many Ukukus make long journeys through the mountains to light candles and pray. Later on they meet other dances and they end their ritual journey at dawn in the village of Tayankani. It is finished with bands all playing the same tune and the dancers making their way down the mountain.
Are you interested in participating in this unique cultural event? We recommend you contact travel agency Dos Manos Peru Travel for more details.