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Inti Raymi in Cusco
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Travel Guide to Inti Raymi in Cusco

Inti Raymi is a cultural festivity celebrated every June 24 in the city of Cusco, Peru. Inti’ means ‘sun’ while ‘Raymi’ means ‘sun’. In other words, this festival is a religious ritual in honor of the sun whose origins date back five hundred years to Inca times. Since the mid-twentieth century, the citizens of Cusco returned to perform this ceremony that was repressed in the sixteenth century, when the Viceroyalty of Peru was established. Today this celebration gathers thousands of people between Peruvians and foreigners. How is it celebrated, how much does it cost? And what is its immense history? Know everything in this complete guide about the Inti Raymi trip.



One of the actors of the Inti Raymi show
One of the actors of the Inti Raymi show

The Inti Raymi and other festivities of Cusco – The Inti Raymi is the most important cultural manifestation during the Inca period in Cusco, Peru. Its origin goes back to the same Inca period when it was also the most important festivity together with the Capac Raymi (in December). The Inti Raymi is celebrated every June 24, however, throughout the Cusco calendar there are many other festivities of great historical value. The procession of the Lord of the Tremors (Holy Monday), the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity), the feast in honor of the Lord of Qoyllur Riti (between the end of May and the beginning of June) and the feast of the Virgin of Carmen de Paucartambo (between July 15 and 18) and more stand out. All festivities have their origin in the Inca and colonial times and are a sample of the great cultural diversity of Cusco in Peru.


Inti Raymi, the festival of the sun

Definition of Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi is Quechua words, the language of the Incas and many Cusco people today, meaning ‘Festival of the Sun’. Inti’ means ‘Sun’ and ‘Raymi’ means ‘Feast’.

The Inti Raymi was the most important religious festivity in the Inca calendar, together with the Capac Raymi, which was celebrated in December. The festival of the sun was celebrated in June, during the winter equinox (between June 23 and 26 approximately). Inca astronomers were aware of the sun’s proximity to the earth and worshipped it as a new solar year.

However, in the XVI century, with the arrival of the Spaniards, this religious festivity was suppressed and in its place Christian celebrations were established. In the mid-twentieth century, the people of Cusco returned to give meaning to this festival with great staging.

Today the meaning of Inti Raymi is to revalue the Inca past by the people of Cusco. It is to show the great history of the Incas to the world. It is believed that on that day the city of Cusco receives more than ten thousand visitors.

Location

Inti Raymi is celebrated in the city of Cusco, which was the capital of the Inca empire (Tahuantinsuyo). At the time also the ‘sacred city’ hosted this important religious festival.

There are three stages where the performances are staged and they are very similar to the Inca Inti Raymi (according to several chronicles of the sixteenth century): the Coricancha, the Main Square of Cusco, and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

However, throughout the city, especially in the streets of the historic center, festivities are everywhere. There are gastronomic festivals, craft fairs, and joy in every corner of the city.

When is it celebrated?

Inti Raymi is celebrated every year on June 24. This date is similar to the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, which took place between June 23 and 26 on the winter equinox in the southern hemisphere (when the sun was closest to the earth in the southern hemisphere).

Map

Map of the Inti Raymi Cusco route
Map of the Inti Raymi Cusco route

History of Inti Raymi

The origins of Inti Raymi date back to the mythical period when Manco Capac settled in the valley of Cusco (XII century approximately). Although it is more of a legend, it is presumed that the Incas honored the sun through offerings and sacrifices of llamas. This festivity gradually became the modern Inti Raymi recorded in the chronicles of Guaman Poma de Ayala and the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

In 1430 A.D. the then emperor Pachacutec reorganized the Inti Raymi festivity making it the main religious ceremony of the Tahuantinsuyo. The chronicles point out that it was a great ritual led by the Inca himself and the high priest who made payments to the earth, offerings of hundreds of llamas, chicha, coca leaves, and precious stones. The Inca Inti Raymi was much bigger and more solemn than the modern festivity.

The Inca Inti Raymi lasted several days, between June 20 and 26. However, its preparations were much longer. The people who attended the ceremony had to keep fasting days because the main ceremony took place in the Coricancha, the temple of the sun.

During the Inti Raymi, the population of Cusco was fed during all the days that the festivity lasted. The Inca celebrated the successes of the army in its new conquests. The caciques and representatives of all the conquered regions were invited to admire the great power of the Inca empire. In this way, they demonstrated their superiority to the conquered peoples.

For the Incas, Inti Raymi represented the rebirth of the sun, a new annual period in their calendar. In addition, it marked the time of harvests, where prosperity and success were predicted in the new cycle of the sun. Even, as was customary in Inca religious festivities, the mummies of the previous rulers were paraded through the city to their palaces.

The Inti Raymi continued to be celebrated year after year until the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. The arrival of the Europeans marked more than five centuries of eradication of this great celebration. Villagers who showed the slightest sign of Inca religiosity were severely punished as they were considered ‘pagans’.

Until the twentieth century, in June 1944, after more than five centuries, the citizens of Cusco (led by the actor Faustino Espinoza Navarro who played the role of the Inca) reorganized a staging that represented the Inca Inti Raymi festivity. They based their work on the chronicles of the time. The purpose was to revalue the Inca past and continue with this tradition of their ancestors from Cusco.

Gradually the Inti Raymi of Cusco was gaining popularity around the world. The festival of the sun was so important for Cusco that today is a non-working holiday throughout the Andean region. It is estimated that on that day (June 24) the city receives about 10 thousand visitors. It is one of the most important cultural manifestations of Peru.

Weather in Cusco during Inti Raymi

The city of Cusco hosts the Inti Raymi festival every June 24. This Peruvian Andean city has a temperate climate with cold nights. In June, the month of Inti Raymi, the weather is mild during the day with little chance of rain. The maximum temperature can reach 23ºC. while the minimum night temperatures can drop to 2ºC. During the Inti Raymi in Sacsayhuaman (2 pm), the temperature can reach 23ºC., so it is recommended to protect yourself from the hot sun. There is very little chance of rain during the time of the show.

The three historical scenarios

The Inti Raymi takes place on June 24 in three historical scenarios for the Incas and for the people of Cusco:

  • Inti Raymi in CoricanchaThe Inti Raymi show in the temple of Coricancha is the first one, the one that starts the festival of the sun. The show starts at 9:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes. The stage is located in the esplanade of the Coricancha. The public is located on Sun Avenue and its surrounding streets overlooking the stage. That is to say, the event is free for all the public. Only a few visitors who purchase their tickets online can access the nearly 200 seats available. The show has about three hundred actors and actresses, who play the Inca, his wife, the auqui, the virgins of the sun, and more. The show features live music and a soprano voice. The drama tells the story of the sun’s permission to start the Inti Raymi in its main temple (the temple of the sun).
  • Inti Raymi in Main Square in Cusco – The Inti Raymi show in Cusco’s Main Square is the second one, the one that gathers a lot of people all over the streets surrounding the ancient Inca Huacaypata. The stage is the entire square and its main pool where a platform is organized for the Inca to lead the ceremony of the coca leaf. The public is around the square, in the streets, and on the balconies of restaurants and bars with preferential views. The event is also free to the public. There are no seats, only the public spaces that look full of people three or four hours before the show. The show also has three hundred actors and actresses who perform the ceremony in honor of the sun. The Inca and his wife the coya are paraded around the square to the jubilation of the spectators. The show starts at 11:00 a.m. and lasts an average of 45 minutes.
  • Inti Raymi in SacsayhuamanThe Inti Raymi show in Sacsayhuaman is the third, the last, and the most important show in honor of the sun. The show starts at 2:00 pm and lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes on average. The stage is in the center of the esplanade with the gigantic Inca stone walls in the background. Only people who have purchased a ticket online months in advance are admitted to this show. There are seats for about 3,500 people. Only some people, if they do it several hours before, can see the show from a hill behind the spectators. This show has about 500 actors and actresses, a live band, and soprano singers. The show is in Quechua, the language of the Incas, and shows the Inca leading the fire ceremony, the offering of a black flame (simulation), and offerings of dances by the members of the four suyos or regions. The sun god augurs prosperity for the empire of Tahuantinsuyo to the joy of all. At the end, the assistants can enter to be photographed with the actors and actresses.
Performing the Inti Raymi Show in Sacsayhuaman
Performing the Inti Raymi Show in Sacsayhuaman

The three seats of Inti Raymi

The Inti Raymi show at Sacsayhuaman is the main one, which has three different seating groups for visitors:

  • Red grandstand at SacsayhuamanThe ticket to the red grandstand at the Inti Raymi is the most requested because it offers a space where the shadow falls before the other grandstands. These seats are located on the western side of the main platform in the esplanade of Sacsayhuaman. It has seating for about 800 people. It allows a close view from a lateral perspective of the stage. It is the ticket with the highest cost. The purchase is made online 2 or 3 months in advance, otherwise there is a risk of not finding availability. It is recommended for the whole family, including children and seniors.
  • Orange grandstand at Sacsayhuaman – The ticket to the orange grandstand at the Inti Raymi is one of the most requested by visitors as it offers a greater number of available spaces (about 2,500 seats) and allows a more central and complete perspective of the show since the seats are located north of the main stage at Sacsayhuaman. This group of seats has no protection from the sun. It is also the most expensive ticket. The purchase is also done online one or two months in advance because the availability is usually sold out quickly. It is recommended to bring a hat, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and rehydrating water.
  • Green grandstand in SacsayhuamanThe ticket to the green grandstand in the Inti Raymi is the cheapest and the one that offers discounts for Peruvian citizens. It is available for approximately 700 people. It is located on the eastern side of the main stage in Sacsayhuaman, with close views, especially at the entrance of the actors and actresses, including the Inca and his wife the Coya. This seating group has no protection from the Cusco sun, so it is recommended to bring hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, rehydrating water, and snacks. Tickets can be purchased online one to two months in advance. Availability is limited, especially for Peruvian visitors looking to purchase their tickets with a special discount.
Sacsayhuaman Seats Distribution
Sacsayhuaman Seats Distribution

Special seat ticket to the Coricancha – In addition to the special seat tickets to Inti Raymi at Sacsayhuaman (red, green, and orange seats), Inti Raymi offers a group of seats for the first show on the esplanade of the Coricancha (start at 9 am and duration of 45 minutes). This ticket costs approximately US$40, depending on whether you buy the ticket on the official website or at an authorized tourist agency. The seat offers space for about 250 visitors. All seats offer preferential spaces so as not to miss the Inti Raymi opening show. It is recommended to purchase two or three months in advance because availability is limited and sells out quickly.


How to visit Cusco during Inti Raymi?

How to visit Cusco?

Cusco is located in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The best way to visit it is by an international flight to the city of Lima and, from there, another flight to the city of Cusco (1 hour approximately).

To appreciate the Inti Raymi show it is necessary to travel a few days before June 24, the date on which the festival takes place in the city of Cusco. A few days before or after, the visitor can visit the tourist attractions of Cusco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Rainbow Mountain, the Humantay Lagoon, and of course, Machu Picchu.

Tourists enjoying Inti Raymi
Tourists enjoying Inti Raymi

The Inti Raymi in Coricancha

The first Inti Raymi show takes place on June 24 at the esplanade of the Coricancha in the city of Cusco. This show is free for all people, whether they are from Cusco, Peruvians, or foreigners. Because of this from the early hours of the day (the show starts at 9 am), the place is full of people without leaving a good space to appreciate the show to visitors who arrive an hour earlier.

There is the option of buying a ticket to one of the seats at the front of the Esplanade. These seats allow greater security and comfort to watch the show not standing, but sitting in a preferential place.

In case you do not buy a ticket, it is recommended to go to Sun Avenue at least two hours before the show starts. This way you will be able to find a better space so as not to miss the show. The Inti Raymi in Coricancha lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Beginning of the Inti Raymi - Coricancha
Beginning of the Inti Raymi – Coricancha

The Inti Raymi in the Main Square

The second Inti Raymi show takes place in the Main Square, also called Huacaypata or Main Square of Cusco. This show is free for all people, whether they are Cusqueños, Peruvians, or foreigners. Thus, from the early hours of June 24, the surroundings of the square looked crowded with people looking to get the best view of the show.

In this show, there are no tickets or seats available for any person. There is only a stage with guests such as mayors or personalities of Peru. Therefore, a good option is to request, months in advance, a reservation at a restaurant or bar with balconies overlooking the square and the Inti Raymi show.

If the visitor can arrive at the plaza two or three hours before the start of the show, can get a space in the crowd. Due to the crowd it is recommended to be careful with personal belongings. The show starts at 11:00 a.m. and lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Development of the Inti Raymi in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco
Development of the Inti Raymi in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco

The Inti Raymi in Sacsayhuaman

The third and last Inti Raymi show is held at the Sacsayhuaman fortress, located 1 kilometer uphill from Cusco’s Main Square. This show, unlike the shows at Coricancha and Plaza de Armas, is only open to visitors with an entrance ticket. Visitors seeking to purchase a ticket on-site will unfortunately not be able to do so, as availability is limited.

There is a little-known option to enjoy the Inti Raymi show without an entrance ticket. This is to go to a hill near the esplanade of Sacsayhuaman, which offers somewhat distant views but allows you to see part of the show. However, this hill is very crowded by Cusco citizens who occupy this space up to four hours before.

The safest way to appreciate this show in Sacsayhuaman is to purchase a ticket online and in advance. The official website for ticket sales is teleticket.com.pe/inti-raymi-2024. Another option is to contract the ticket with an authorized tourism agency such as entradaintiraymi.com.

Sacsayhuaman last point of the Inti Raymi show
Sacsayhuaman last point of the Inti Raymi show

Inti Raymi prices updated

INTI RAYMI TICKETSSACSAYHUAMANCORICANCHA + SACSAYHUAMAN
FOREIGNPERUVIANFOREIGNPERUVIAN
Green Zone125 USD52 USD170 USD78 USD
Orange Zone195 USD195 USD240 USD240 USD
Red Zone195 USD195 USD240 USD240 USD

The Inti Raymi tours

A safe way to do the Inti Raymi tour is to hire a tour agency that offers everything you need for a safe visit: pick up from your hotel, tourist transportation to the show in Sacsayhuaman, professional tour guide, box lunch and entrance to one of the available grandstands: red, green or orange seats.

The Inti Raymi tours are offered by specialized tourism agencies with experience in this type of event. The tour can cost between 200 to 300 dollars, depending on the type of service. The tour itinerary may vary, however, all of them offer the show in Sacsayhuaman accompanied by a professional tour guide.

What to bring?

If you will take the tour or visit the Inti Raymi in Cusco, we recommend you to bring the following:

  • Hat or cap.
  • Sunblock.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Cell phone with tickets or printed tickets (for the show in Sacsayhuaman).
  • Rehydrating water.
  • Snacks.
  • Identity card or passport.

Food, guide, transportation, and more

The Inti Raymi tour already includes food (usually a box lunch), a bilingual tour guide in Spanish or English, transportation service from Cusco to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, and entrance fees. However, visitors can also purchase these services on their own, taking the necessary precautions.

In the city of Cusco, many high-quality restaurants are offering the best of Peruvian cuisine. Since the Sacsayhuaman show starts at 2:00 pm, it is recommended to have lunch at noon.

The tour guide service can only be hired online through an authorized tour agency. On the day of the show (June 24) you will not be able to find a tour guide available either in Cusco or at the Sacsayhuaman gate.

The transportation service can also be contracted with a tourist agency or on your own on the day of the event. The safest option is to take a cab that will take you to the entrance gate along the Circunvalación highway. The other option is to walk from the Plaza de Armas up a slope that will leave you a little tired. The walk is uphill and takes about 1 hour.

Private transportation
Private transportation to the Inti Raymi development sites

Inti Raymi and other activities on the trip to Cusco, Peru

The Inti Raymi and Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu looks full all June because it is one of the months in which more tourists visit the Inca citadel and, incidentally, appreciate the Inti Raymi show.

Because of this, it is recommended to buy the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu online two to three months in advance. Otherwise, you will not find availability. The purchase is made through the official website (machupicchu.gob.pe) or with the website of an authorized tourist agency (ticketmachupicchu.com).

Exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu
Exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu

The Inti Raymi and the Rainbow Mountain

The mountain of the 7 colors, also called Rainbow Mountain, is one of the best tourist attractions in Cusco along with Machu Picchu. In June, the month of Inti Raymi, the mountain also looks full of people.

The great advantage of visiting this natural tourist attraction in June is that it clearly shows its colors with its greatest intensity. In that month, in addition, the cold can force you to take with you gloves, hats and which helps to protect you from the icy wind of the snowy Cusco.

The most economical option is to hire an all-inclusive tour through a tourist agency. Going on your own is difficult because there is no direct public transportation to the route. Taking a cab will be much more expensive than buying an all-inclusive tour.

Visitando la Montaña de los 7 Colores
Visiting the Rainbow Mountain – Cusco

The Inti Raymi and the Sacred Valley of the Incas

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the best tourist destinations in Cusco. In June hundreds of visitors tour its archaeological sites, such as Pisac, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Maras, or Moray.

In June the valley looks full but its landscapes are less green than usual because it is the dry season, with little rainfall throughout Cusco. In any case, it is well worth the visit.

Tourists can choose an all-inclusive tour organized by a tourist agency or go on their own. For the latter option, you can leave from the public bus stop on Pavitos (towards Pisac) or Pavitos (towards Chinchero) streets.

Entrance to the archaeological site of Pisac
Entrance to the archaeological site of Pisac

The Inti Raymi and Cusco city

The city of Cusco offers many options in June, the month of its main festivities (called jubilee month in Cusco). During every day in June, the city holds demonstrations of dances, music, cultural shows, and gastronomic fairs along its historic streets.

However, the visitor should not miss its main tourist attractions which are: the Cathedral, the Coricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pucapucara, and Tambomachay. On the day of the Inti Raymi, the main show will be in Sacsayhuaman but the visitor will not be able to visit its constructions. A good option is to hire a Cusco City Tour or make the visit on your own by buying the Cusco Tourist Ticket (70 soles for foreigners and 40 soles for Peruvians).

Cusco Imperial City
Cusco Imperial City

The Inti Raymi and hiking trails in Cusco

June is the best month for trekking in Cusco. The reason? There is very little chance of rain, which makes it easier to hike.

The main trekking routes in Cusco are the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek, the Choquequirao Trek, the Lares trek, and the Inca Jungle. Only the 4-day Inca Trail has very limited availability so the tour must be booked 4 or 5 months in advance. In June, the month with the highest flow of tourism, the availability for this trek sells out very quickly.

Archaeological site of Wiñaywayna - Inca Trail
Archaeological site of Wiñaywayna – Inca Trail

The Inti Raymi and other tourist attractions in Peru

June, the month of Inti Raymi, is ideal for visiting other tourist attractions in Cusco and Peru. To properly organize the trip, it is recommended to separate June 24 for the Inti Raymi and the other days to know the best of the South American country: the Colca Canyon, Huacachina, Paracas, Arequipa, the Colca Canyon, and more.


Photos: This is Inti Raymi


Questions and answers about Inti Raymi, the feast of the sun

  • Is it dangerous to visit Cusco during Inti Raymi?

    On June 24 the city of Cusco looks crowded with visitors. Although the city is very safe, it is recommended to be careful of silent robberies of cell phones or wallets. This is especially true if you go to the shows in Coricancha and the Plaza de Armas. It is recommended to carry your backpack in the front part and to be attentive at all times to your pockets.

  • How to buy a ticket for Inti Raymi?

    You can purchase a ticket to Inti Raymi through the official website: teleticket.com.pe/inti-raymi-2024 or with an authorized travel agency such as entradaintiraymi.com. The purchase should be made two or three months in advance because availability is limited.

  • How to see the Inti Raymi for free?

    You can see the Inti Raymi for free in the shows of Coricancha (9 am) and Plaza de Armas (11 am) whose admission is free for all people. In both cases it is recommended to go to the site hours in advance, so you can get a suitable space. Optionally, the show at Coricancha offers seats. The show in Plaza de Armas does not offer any type of seating.

  • How long does Inti Raymi last?

    The Inti Raymi in Coricancha starts at 9 am and lasts 45 minutes. The Inti Raymi in Plaza de Armas starts at 11 am and also lasts 45 minutes. The Inti Raymi show in Sacsayhuaman, the third and most important, starts at 2 pm and lasts approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

  • Which is the best seat for the Inti Raymi?

    The Inti Raymi show at Sacsayhuaman, the main spectacle, offers three groups of seats for visitors who purchase their tickets: orange, red, and green seats. The orange seat is considered the best because it allows a more central and complete view of the show.

  • When was the first Inti Raymi celebrated in Cusco?

    The first Inca Inti Raymi was celebrated in 1430 by orders of the emperor Pachacutec. Then, in the XVI century, the Spaniards prohibited this celebration because they considered it pagan, until June 24, 1944, when the citizens of Cusco organized the first Inti Raymi in Sacsayhuamán. Since then, this festivity has been celebrated without interruption, except in the years of pandemic.

  • How to hire a guide for the Inti Raymi?

    The Inti Raymi ticket does not include the tour guide service, which is recommended since the show is in Quechua, the language of the Incas. The guide is in charge of translating and offering the best understanding of this important show. You can hire a guide through a tour with an authorized tourism agency in Cusco.

  • Is Inti Raymi suitable for people of any age?

    Yes, Inti Raymi is suitable for visitors of all ages, including children and seniors.

  • How is the weather during the Inti Raymi in Sacsayhuaman?

    The weather in the city of Cusco on June 24 is mild with very sunny days and low chances of rain. Temperatures can reach 23 degrees Celsius, especially during the time of the main show in Sacsayhuaman (which starts at 2 pm). It is recommended to wear a hat, hat, sunscreen, rehydrating water, and whatever you consider necessary.

  • Who is in charge of organizing the Inti Raymi?

    Emufec, Cusco’s municipal company for festivities and tourism promotion, is the entity in charge of organizing the Inti Raymi every year. Through other institutions, it markets entrance tickets to the shows in Coricancha and Sacsayhuamán. It is also in charge of the recruitment of actors, and actresses, advertising, and the complete organization of the festival of the sun.

Advice from people who have been there

Inti Raymi

Claudia Z.By: Claudia Z.

“Lots of culture and color“

“A show different from the rest, with lots of music, color, history, and culture. The Incas were a great empire, the largest in our beautiful continent.“


 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 19, 2024