Peru is a country rich in culture and traditions, and Christmas is no exception. Celebrating Christmas in Cusco and Machu Picchu offers a unique and enchanting experience, with a blend of ancient Inca customs and Spanish colonial influences. Here’s a guide to experiencing the festive Christmas season in these two remarkable destinations in Peru.
Cusco: A City of Nativity Scenes and Christmas Markets
One of the greatest traditions during Christmas in Cusco is the display of nativity scenes, which can be appreciated throughout the city. Almost every family in Cusco has its own retablo, a small wooden box containing miniature figures representing scenes from daily life or religious events. During Christmas, these retablos are adorned with festive decorations, and Christmas gifts are placed near them.
These intricate scenes depict the birth of Jesus and are often handcrafted with great attention to detail.
The main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, December 24th, rather than on December 25th. This night, known as Noche Buena (“Good Night”), is a time for families to come together and enjoy a festive meal.
Main Square (Plaza de Armas Cusco):
The Main Square is the heart of the Christmas festivities in Cusco. On the 23rd and 24th of December, it is filled with stalls selling traditional crafts, food, and drinks, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere
Santurantikuy Market Cusco:
On Christmas Eve, the Main Square hosts the famous Santurantikuy Market, where artisans from all over the region gather to sell their handmade crafts, including pottery, textiles, and jewelry. This is a great opportunity to sample local delicacies and purchase unique souvenirs.
Christmas in Machu Picchu: A Magical Setting
While Machu Picchu itself does not have specific Christmas events, exploring the ancient Inca ruins during this time of year adds a touch of magic to your visit. The misty mountains and the awe-inspiring architecture create a unique atmosphere that is perfect for reflection and appreciation of the holiday season.
Hiking the Inca Trail this time of the year is a Magical Experience. Who doesn’t want to wake up on Christmas or the day, before knowing that today you will reach the stunning lost city of the Inca’s and that it’s only a few miles away from your campsite? Later that day, you will tour the ruins and at night, a lovely Christmas dinner in Cusco, Aguas Calientes or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.
Why Visit Cusco and Machu Picchu During Christmas?
Unique Cultural Experience:
Celebrating Christmas in Cusco and Machu Picchu allows you to witness the blending of ancient Inca traditions with Spanish colonial influences, creating a truly unique and enchanting experience.
The streets of Cusco and the surroundings of Machu Picchu come alive during the Christmas season, with colorful decorations, music, and traditional dances. The joyful atmosphere is contagious and will leave you with lasting memories.
Delicious Food and Drinks:
During Christmas, you can indulge in traditional Peruvian dishes such as roasted turkey, panettone (a sweet bread), and hot chocolate. Don’t forget to try the local specialty, chicha morada, a refreshing purple corn drink.
In addition to the cultural and festive experiences, Cusco and Machu Picchu offer stunning natural landscapes. From the majestic Andes Mountains to the lush Amazon rainforest, there is no shortage of breathtaking views to enjoy during your Christmas visit.
Celebrating Christmas in Cusco and Machu Picchu is a truly magical experience. From the vibrant Christmas markets and nativity scenes in Cusco to the awe-inspiring beauty of Machu Picchu, these destinations offer a unique blend of culture, history, and holiday spirit. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a memorable Christmas experience, Cusco and Machu Picchu are sure to captivate your heart and leave you with cherished memories.
Read more: 19 ThIngs to do for Christmas in Cusco