Celebrated at the end of June, Inti Raymi 2022 is a festival in honour of the Sun. This unmissable cultural event is an insight into the belief systems of the ancient Inca Empire. Of course, if you travel to countries such as Peru or Ecuador at this time of year you’ll be greeted by an incredible festival of colours, traditions and historical reenactment. Is it the first time you’ve heard of this important celebration? Don’t worry, here’s all you need to know about Inti Raymi 2022 and where you can join in the celebrations!
What is Inti Raymi?
Like many ancient civilisations, the Incas placed great importance on the movement of the sun, moon and other celestial bodies. The Quechua word for ‘sun’, Inti is an Inca god and the most venerated deity in the ancient Inca belief system. As we already know, the end of June marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Therefore, Inti Raymi is a celebration of the shortest day of the year and also the beginning of the Inca calendar year. The festival is the opportunity to thank the sun god, Inti, for his heat and warmth, allowing crops to grow and civilisations to flourish.
This festival has been celebrated for more than 500 years. During the Inca period, thousands of people would gather in Cuzco (the Inca capital) to bear witness to this sacred day. Inca noblemen, priests and lay people would come together to mark the occasion, often with animal sacrifices, special dances and spiritual communion. Whilst the celebrations are a little tamer these days, the ancestors of the Incas continue to honour this important day in the Inca calendar. Visitors, tourists and locals can join in the festivities. Witnessing the colourful clothes, age-old rituals and incredible performances of Inti Raymi 2022 is a cultural phenomenon!
Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that the celebrations of Inti Raymi have been closely tied with the Catholic festival of St. John the Baptist. Taking place on June 24th, this Christian saint’s day has, in some Andean cultures, merged with the celebrations of Inti Raymi. Therefore, celebrating Inti Raymi 2022 is the chance to experience a fusion of cultures and one of the most important festivals in the Andes!
Inti Raymi in Peru
So, you want to experience Inti Raymi in Peru? As the ancestral heartland of the Inca Empire (and home of Machu Picchu), the celebrations here are legendary! Concentrated in the city of Cuzco, Inti Raymi is celebrated on June 24th. A day-long ceremony, the main event takes place at Qorikancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun. During the rituals of Inti Raymi, actors of high esteem play the role of the Sun King and his wife. The rituals include a speech about the sun god, a chariot procession and a faux sacrifice of a llama.
The procession continues to the stone temple of Sacsayhuamán, on the outskirts of Cuzco. The day culminates in the lighting of a bonfire before the Inca royalty return to Cuzco on their golden chariot. The costumes, crowds and grand decorations only add to the spectacle! A truly impressive sight, Inti Raymi in Cuzco is the largest of all Inti Raymi celebrations.
Inti Raymi in Ecuador
To experience Inti Raymi in Ecuador, it’s best to head deep into the Andes. Indigenous towns and villages host the most impressive festivities. One such town is Otavalo. Here, the celebrations begin at midnight with a ritual cleansing at Peguche Waterfall. Next, vibrantly dressed locals parade into the town centre. At Plaza de Ponchos music, dance and performances are held throughout the night and into the following day. Indeed, all celebrations here focus on the theme of showing gratitude to Mother Nature.
The famous ruins of Ingapirca also host an annual celebration. Here, indigenous communities congregate to take part in traditional dances, perform music and share local food. Ingapirca is the best-preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador, hence the festivities here are among the best in the country.
Other places to take part in Inti Raymi in Ecuador include Saraguro, Cochasqui and Cotacachi. Keep in mind that celebrations in Ecuador take place on June 22nd, rather than June 24th as in Peru.
So, now you know what Inti Raymi is, how will you mark the occasion? Discover our best-selling trips to Peru and Ecuador on our official website: