June is a very exciting time in Cusco—it’s a month full of festivals, parades, and dancing.
We’ve heard June referred to as “Cusco Month” or the month of the “Cusco Jubilee” because the whole month is one big celebration. The city prepares for June by decorating the plazas with hundreds of Cusco flags. This confuses some tourists because the flag of Cusco is a rainbow flag, so they think that the city is celebrating Pride Month, which is also during June. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that the colors of the Cusco flag are slightly different than the rainbow Pride flag.
The citizens of Cusco prepare for June by dusting off their dance moves. Everyone, from tiny little toddlers to school children to adults, participates in traditional folk dances. It can be tough for us to do our job because when we show up at school to teach sports class, there could be a big dance practice for a parade happening on the court! June is a month where project managers have to be flexible because this type of surprise conflict happens all the time. There are also so many celebrations in June that it can be hard to keep track of the holiday schedule!
Three of the biggest holidays in June are Qoyllority, Corpus Christi, and Inti Raymi. With the help of aboutcusco.com, here are some brief descriptions of the holidays so that you can better understand the festivities of Cusco Month.
Qoyllority is a celebration that actually happens outside of Cusco, high up in the mountains. The festival takes place the week before Corpus Christi and lasts multiple days, with Peruvians from all over the Andes making the pilgrimage to the chapel of Señor Qoyllority at 15,000 feet. There, people can participate in ceremonies and dances that should bring them prosperity and good fortune. Adrie and I are actually hoping to attend Qoyllority this year!
Corpus Christi will happen on June 20th. The fiesta is most impressive in Cusco. Fifteen saints and virgins, organized in several processions from different places meet at the cathedral of Cusco to “greet” the body of Christ sixty days after Easter Sunday. After the procession, the saints go back to the cathedral and the representatives of the local communities meet to discuss local problems.
The most famous Cusco holiday of all is Inti Raymi. This year it takes place on June 24 near the solstice. The city will be packed with tourists and locals who come to witness this beautiful celebration. Inti Raymi is a celebration of the Incan sun god, Inti. There is a big procession that starts in the center of Cusco at Qorikancha, but the main ceremony and celebrations take place at Sacsayhuaman, the beautiful ruins above the city.
As you can see, June is a very exciting month in Cusco! It’s also when tourist high season really starts taking off (now that the rainy season is done) so the whole city is bustling and alive. We’re excited for all the festivities to come!