Solstice Sun Celebration to Shine in Peru

Story by Southwind Adventures

Posted: December 7, 2012
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Inca Festival Returns in June 2013

Each year on June 24th, one of the largest and most colorful celebrations in Latin America erupts on the cobbled streets of Cusco, Peru – a colonial city at 11,150 feet above sea level and gateway to the legendary Machu Picchu. The Inti Raymi festival attracts foreigners and Peruvians alike with a re-enactment of a sacred Inca solstice celebration.

For the event, a cast of hundreds will dress in full regalia to welcome the return of the Father Sun, or “Inti”. The day is filled with Andean music, parades, ceremonies in the ancient Quechua tongue, and a culminating display in the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuaman in the hills above the city.

Inti Raymi Festival in Cusco, Peru. The Royal Inca.
The Inca reigns over the festival as supreme ruler of the empire and liaison with the gods.

The Inti Raymi tradition was revived in the 1940's, when Peruvian academic Faustino Espinoza Navarro researched and wrote the script in the original Quechua. The festival has been celebrated with greater fanfare every year since.

“I come from a culture of extremes and of potential. It’s a living culture that still sings its roots. I feel more and more proud each day,” observes Nivardo Carrillo, a performing artist from Chumbivilcas, Cusco who has been cast as the Inca for four past Inti Raymi festivals.

Inti Raymi festival in Cusco, Peru. The Royal Inca Queen

"The Inca’s character is filled with magic and I have to believe it in order to convey it,” says Carrillo. “It takes five or six months of work to prepare. The role is not about resembling the Inca; rather, it’s about being the Inca and representingCusco, our culture, and our ancestors.”

A Denver-based adventure tour operator specializing in South America, Southwind Adventures is offering a unique set of itineraries that include the festival as the grand finale. Guests can experience Inti Raymi paired with Machu Picchu through the ever-popular World of the Incas cultural tour, the Inca Trail trek, or combine Inti Raymi with other Peru highlights like Lake Titicaca, the Amazon, and Colca Canyon. Inti Raymi in Cusco with Southwind Adventures was listed in the New York Times bestseller 1,000 Things to Do Before You Die by Patricia Shultz.

Inti Raymi festival in Cusco, Peru. Fortress of Sacsayhuaman

Southwind has been crafting private and small group journeys to South America since 1990. President Tom Damon is a distinguished Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist for Peru since 2005. For more information on Inti Raymi departures, call the Denver office at 1(800) 377-9463.