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CARNIVAL – February: In the squares of Cusco as well as the outlying villages in the Sacred Valley, Peruvians celebrate the Spanish custom of Carnival, beginning 40 days before Easter Sunday (Lent). Carnival parades are not as common here as in other South American cities, but you will often come across festivals in smaller villages, as well as kids running around with water balloons and spray-foam.

HOLY WEEK (Semana Santa) – April, ending on Easter Sunday: Pilgrims come from all over Peru, South America and overseas to Cusco to celebrate this festival. Holy Monday, 6 days before Easter, sees the procession of the Lord of the Earthquakes, the effigy of Christ said to have stopped the 1650 earthquake that destroyed much of the city.

CUSCO BEER FESTIVAL – May/early June: In Cusco, both national and international musicians perform for an audience of thousands in the Cerveza Cusqueña Beer Garden. The date changes every year; in 2007 the festival was June 5th and 6th.

QOYLLOR RIT'I - June: Cusco is host to Qoyllor Riti, the "Snow Star Festival", in the Sinakara valley southeast of Cusco, near Ocongate at 4,800 meters above sea level. This is a syncretism of Catholic and indigenous rites, and tens of thousands of pilgrims attend the festival, hiking 8 kilometers from where public transport and trucks leave them. This is one of the most important religious festivals in all of South America.

CORPUS CHRISTI - June: The fourteen images of Cusco´s patron saints are taken from their respective churches and carried in procession to the historic center. Corpus Christi is the result of the syncretism between Catholic and indigenous faiths, for the Incas too carried the mummified remains of their sovereigns in procession at the same time of year as the Catholic celebration of Corpus. In the streets around the plaza, local people and visitors can enjoy the typical dish "chiriuchu" (a plate of cold meats, tortillas, toasted maize, cheese and roasted guinea pig)

INTI RAYMI (Winter Service): Inti Raymi, the Inca festival of the Sun, is held each year on June 24th, and is one of Peru's prime tourist attractions. The festivities begin at the Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun, and end at Sacsayhuaman, the fortress temple the Incas built above the city. Here high priests offer a llama in sacrifice to the sun, and dancers perform for the Inca and the many thousands of ordinary Cusco people who travel from all over the region to witness the festivities.

VIRGIN OF CARMEN: On July 16th, in the village of Paucartambo, one of Peru's most colourful and important festivities takes place as fifteen traditional dance groups pay homage to the Virgin of Carmen on her feast day. In fact, the celebrations last for four days, during which the dancers perform an intricate narrative choreography and the huge crowds that gather celebrate with copious amounts of food and drink. Many pilgrims also make the trip to nearby Tres Cruces where, perched above the Amazon basin, they witness the phenomenon of a unique and spectacular sunrise only seen at that time of the year, during which the sun appears to divide in two as it climbs into the sky.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: Peruvians celebrate their independence from Spain on July 28th, and the festivities range from concerts held in the multiple squares in Cusco to streets full of processions, local food and drink, and parties in many of the bars and restaurants. Make sure to wear red and white, the colors of Peru!

OFFERING TO MOTHER EARTH: In August the people of Cusco, who since before the Incas have been dependent on the earth for their harvest, make offerings to Mother Earth, or Pachamama, to ask for a year of good harvests and good fortune.

TOURISM MONTH: From September to October the Cusco region holds a number of sporting, cultural and ecological events to mark "el mes turístico" (tourism month).

EQUINOX: Cusco is located 13 degrees from the equator and its equinox falls on October 30th, when the noon sun sets to its zenith. Meanwhile, across the sky, the moon is at its lowest point in the sky (nadir).

TODOS LOS SANTOS - November 1st:
In this festivity it is a tradition to eat the "lechon" or baked pork, and also to visit the cemeteries and your loved ones whom passed out in the past. There are some special breads with figures of babies called "wawas de pan".

SANTURANTICUY - Christmas Eve sees a charmingly traditional local fair held on Cusco's Plaza de Armas. Peasants come down from their highland villages to sell their wares. The items on sale include images of the holy family and the three kings, as well as the animals that visited Christ's manger. Modern times have seen the fair expand to include clothes, ceramics and souvenirs.

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