Inti Raymi: A Journey into the Heart of Inca Culture in Cusco

Inti Raymi: A Journey into the Heart of Inca Culture in Cusco

Ever heard of Inti Raymi, one of the biggest festivals in Peru? This ancient festival honors the sun god Inti and is rich in history and cultural importance. Join us, as we set out on a journey to dive deep into the customs, rituals, and deep-rooted meaning of Inti Raymi.

Therefore, let’s get started and learn more about the rich heritage that continues to influence Peru’s cultural landscape.

Table of contents:

Origins and History of Inti Raymi

Origins of the Festival and Celebration of the Sun God

Once you experience the Inti Raymi festival in Cusco, it will leave you fascinated! This ancient festival honors the sun god Inti and is rich in history and cultural importance.

locals in traditional attire at sacsayhuaman

During the event, the Incas expressed their genuine gratitude to Inti for providing the life energy that helped their agriculture and provided them wealth. The event was honored by rituals, processions, and offerings made in praise of the sun god.

By visiting, you’ll have a chance to absorb the breathtaking elegance of this famous celebration firsthand as you immerse yourself in the colorful tapestry of Inca culture.


Suppression and Revival of Inti Raymi During Colonial Times

With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, Inti Raymi risked extinction as a result of the colonial process. The Spanish attempted to establish their own religious practices while suppressing native customs. However, the spirit of Inti Raymi remained alive in the hearts of the Inca descendants, who secretly continued to practice the festival.

Inti Raymi was revived in the 20th century as a means of regaining and honoring indigenous heritage. A recreated version of the celebration, based on historical sources and oral traditions, was presented in 1944. Inti Raymi is still a symbol of the Inca culture’s perseverance and commitment to upholding its historical practices despite adversity today.

gold statue of inti raymi

The festival’s rebirth not only enables the descendants of the Inca to reclaim their cultural legacy, but it also gives locals and tourists a glimpse into the complex structure of the Inca civilization. This is an ancient event that reminds us of the resilience and perseverance of indigenous traditions and is sure to fascinate and inspire you.

For more information about this topic, read at our blog article about the Peruvian Culture and Traditions.

Rituals and Ceremonies

The colorful festival of Inti Raymi is a fascinating event full of complex rituals and celebrations. The ceremony starts at Qoricancha, an ancient temple dedicated to the sun that is today known as the Santo Domingo Convent. It then continues to the main square or Huacaypata (crying place), before ending at Sacsayhuaman Fortress, approximately 1.2 miles (2 km) from Cusco.

The main attraction of Inti Raymi is the elegant procession of the Inca and his entourage. The Inca, representing leadership and paying honor to the pre-Incan Inca culture, leads with grace and devotion while wearing elaborate clothing. You have to see and experience it with your own eyes, because it is truly unique!

locals in ancient attire with offering

Participants engage with the sacred energy of Inti through intense commands and sacrifices, expressing thanks for its abundance- and life-giving-power. As expressions of respect, food, flowers, and symbolic objects are offered. With lively traditional dances, music, and performances, Inti Raymi comes to life.

The Inca people’s rich cultural legacy is displayed through vibrant costumes, pulsing rhythms, and elaborate dance, which tell stories from legend and recall historical events.

The meticulous recreation of ancient rituals and ceremonies transports participants and viewers back in time and protects the Inca civilization’s ancestors’ customs. These rituals connect the people to Peru’s rich spiritual heritage and cultural legacy by acting as a link between the past and present.

The Inti Raymi rituals and ceremonies are proof of the culture’s long history and respect for the environment. They ask us to appreciate the value and beauty of these valued customs, commemorating the sun’s crucial role in maintaining life and paying tribute to the Inca civilization’s close ties to the divine.


Experience Inti Raymi in Cusco

Best Time to Visit and Practical Considerations

The Festival of the Sun takes place every year on June 24, and it is important to plan your trip around this day if you want to enjoy the festival to the fullest. The city comes alive during this time with energetic festivals and cultural events.

Due to the high volume of tourists attracted to this well-liked festival, you might want to reserve your hotel room a couple months in advance.

locals in ancient attire at sacsayhuaman


Duration of the Celebrations in Cusco

Inti Raymi is the finale of a whole month’s worth of celebrations in Cusco, making it one of the most significant holidays in both the Andean festival calendar and all of Peru.

The famous fountain in the middle of Cusco’s central plaza is covered by a statue of Pachacutec starting on June 1st, and the square is decorated with colorful rainbow flags that represent the city. In addition, an arena is built in front of the cathedral where performances and other events will take place.

Offerings to Pachamama, a nighttime concert and fireworks show and a number of vivid processions are just a few of the activities that take place over the whole month. Avenida Sol and the Plaza de Armas will come alive almost daily with parades of colorfully dressed dancers performing a variety of styles.


Securing Tickets and Attending the Festival

You can see the entire show in Qoricancha and Plaza de Armas for free! With that said, you need to arrive very early to secure an available place on the outskirts of the temple or at the main square in Cusco. Only for the fortress of Sacsayhuaman are tickets needed and you should get them a couple months in advance.

ancient ruins of sacsayhuaman

If you want to enjoy the entire experience with an amazing view, then make sure to get your tickets in advance.

You can choose between the different stages that you would like to attend: Qoricancha, Sacsayhuaman or both, as well as the zone you want to be seated in. There are three different stages available: Orange, red and green. The ticket prices range from $10 – $150.

Those of you who accept the offer to observe the Inti Raymi’s first act in Qoricancha witness the entrance of the four delegations and those who are interested can only see the Inti Raymi, also known as the celebration of the sun, in Sacsayhuaman’s third act. The altitude in Cusco is roughly 11,000 feet (3,352 m), so it’s important to take it easy and drink enough water to avoid altitude sickness.


Recommended Viewing Spots and Activities in Cusco During Inti Raymi

There are a number of recommended viewing spots from where you can enjoy the beauty of Inti Raymi.

The main location, where the festival’s rituals and ceremonies take place, is normally at the historic site of Sacsayhuaman. You’ll have a better chance of finding a good viewing location if you arrive early.

view on plaza de armas of cusco

In addition to the festival itself, Cusco has a wide range of events and attractions to make your Inti Raymi celebration more enjoyable. Take a leisurely walk through the narrow streets of the historic center, where you can immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and learn more about the local cuisine and handicrafts, or explore the historic ruins of Machu Picchu.

You can also visit the city’s renowned museums, art galleries or visit some of its famous markets. For more inspiration have a look at our blog post about the 10 things to do in the city of Cusco.


Immerse Yourself in the Peruvian Culture

Inti Raymi is a celebration that captures the richness and beauty of Peruvian culture. The festival’s rituals and ceremonies reflect the Inca civilization’s deeply held spiritual convictions and close relationship to nature.  To truly understand the magic of Inti Raymi, there is no alternative than firsthand participation and to fully immerse yourself with the culture and spiritual encounters.

In case you are in Peru during this time, make sure to be in Cusco for this unique festival. If you have any questions about Inti Raymi or need additional support with your trip through Peru, feel free to send us an email to

  • 21 June, 2023 at 5:19 am

    I know that Peru has a very rich culture and history but I wasn’t aware of this special celebration. Sadly to say, but we will arrive on August 2nd so we will miss this day. 🙁

    • 21 June, 2023 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Andy,
      thanks a lot for your comment. That’s true, Peru has a wonderful history and culture and there so many things to learn about it. I am sure that you’ll have an amazing time and if you need some tour inspiration then have a look at our different Peru tours.

      Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.


  • 20 June, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    Inti Raymi sounds awesome! Just stumbled upon this while checking out Cusco tours with you guys, would it be possible to do a tour out of this, e.g. include this festival in our Cusco tour? Please send a quote to my email indicated above. Cheers, Adrian

    • 21 June, 2023 at 11:08 am

      Hey Adrian, thanks for your message. Yes, sure, this is possible.

      Our travel expert just sent you an email with more info, please check your inbox so we can coordinate the details of your tour.

      Cheers and saludos from Peru,

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