June is a month filled with color, dance, and cultural tradition as Cusco celebrates “Dia del Cusco (Cusco Day)” and “Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun).” Citizens from all parts of the Cusco region prepare for the “Fiestas del Cusco” all year long to put on a celebration that is distinct from other parts of Peru.
“Dia del Cusco” is a party that actually celebrates Cusco for an entire week, and ends on June 24th, the day that marks the beginning of Inti Raymi. After days of these impressive displays, we were curious to know what the significance of this date was for Cusco. Does it mark an important battle or historical event? Surprisingly, when we asked our sports students this question, they were equally unaware.
After doing a little bit of internet research and experiencing the celebrations for ourselves, we have come to realize that Cusquenans use this week to celebrate their unique cultural heritage with each other and to also share it with the rest of the world, as June marks the height of tourist season. Throughout this week, traffic in the center of Cusco and the Plaza de Armas is put on hold as representatives from almost every institution in Cusco come to demonstrate a cultural dance in the daily parade that takes place around the Plaza. Students from all the universities and schools, professors, and even employees from Claro—the large telecommunications supplier in South America—don unique, traditional costumes and display traditional “danzas,” or dances, for locals and tourists alike. During these days of fiestas and danzas, the celebrations in the plaza last from 9 in the morning to 12 at night and draw crowds of thousands making “Dia del Cusco” one of the grandest celebrations in all of Peru.
As “Dia del Cusco” comes to an end, the celebrations of “Inti Raymi” are just beginning. We are excited for our students who have been preparing their dances for this portion of the month and we feel fortunate to be part of this unique experience.