Have You Ever Wanted to See a Sun God?

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Sun June 24, 2012 | 00:00 AM

The Festival of the Sun in Cuzco is one of the largest festivals in South America and is held June 24 each year as part of the winter solstice. This ceremony used to be the most important festivity in the Inca calendar because it was the time to thank their God sun for all the good benefits they’ve received. Many fast for three days prior to the celebration as, historically, the Incas knew this was the time of the year (when the sun felt furthest from them) that they were more needy of the sun’s power. I guess if you were worried the sun might disappear during the midst of winter, you might give gifts to the gods as well. Because the Spanish saw this as a pagan ceremony, Inti Raymi went underground for hundreds of years until 1944.

Being in Cuzco earlier in June, I was already catching the buzz of this event as it’s a time for feasts and dancing to say thank you to the Sun God. Although this productive empire of more than 500 years ago is considered “developing” and not “developed,” there’s such riches in the colorful costumes and rituals you’ll experience during this celebratory festival. As festivals go, it’s a really nice mix of feeling like you’re connecting with the locals (as there aren’t many non-Peruvians), witnessing a unique cultural phenomenon, but you’re also doing it in very civilized city, Cuzco, that’s becoming almost as famous for food as Lima has become. Plus, there’s comfy seats (based upon the admission price) in the front row for those who want to spend the money.