The Fun Festivities of Christmas in Cusco
Spending Christmas in Peru during the Christmas holidays while learning Spanish in Cusco is a unique and unforgettable experience. Are you curious to know what to do and how Christmas will be celebrated in Peru? There are various events and activities throughout Cusco during the Christmas season that will provide all travelers and our Spanish students in Peru with fun, cultural memories!
Santurantikuy Christmas Fair
The Santurantikuy Christmas Fair is one of the main events in the city of Cusco during the Christmas holidays in Peru, and it is the perfect way to experience the Peruvian culture while getting in the Christmas spirit.
It takes place in the Plaza de Armas on the 23rd and 24th of December. Santurantikuy consists of hundreds of booths where vendors come to sell various items. The most popular items are the statues of the saints, which Peruvians use for their traditional Nativity scenes.
In addition to the vendors that come to the Plaza de Armas to sell a variety of products, Peruvians that live in the Andean communities travel to the city for the fair to sell moss, twigs, grass, and other greenery. Many people use this greenery from the Andes to decorate their Nativity scenes.
The people coming from the Andean communities are very poor and end up sleeping on the street at night. To support these people, Peruvians that live in the city put on events called chocolatadas, in which they bring hot chocolate and (Peruvian) Christmas bread to the Andean people.
In fact, this is so much of a tradition in Cusco that Andean families travel from their humble homes just for the chocolatadas. For many children, the hot chocolate and sweet bread will be the only Christmas gift they will receive. Helping at a chocolatada is a fun and rewarding experience in which tourists are more than welcome to participate! If you are interested, contact AMAUTA Spanish School and ask when and where our yearly Christmas Chocolatada will take place.
Fireworks in Cusco
Don´t miss out on the fireworks on Christmas Eve! These fireworks are known to be some of the best around. At midnight, hundreds of people across the city of Cusco set off fireworks, making Cusco´s sky light up in one big firework show. Whether you are in the Plaza de Armas, at home, or out celebrating, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the display!
Peruvians across the city traditionally put together a Nativity scene to celebrate the Christmas season. After buying figurines and greenery at the Santurantikuy Christmas Fair, they assemble their Nativity scenes in their homes and churches to honor the birth of Jesus Christ. If you are staying with a Peruvian homestay as a part of your Spanish Program in Peru, this will be a great opportunity for you to learn about and live the Peruvian Christmas spirit.
A unique attribute of Peruvian Nativity scenes is that llamas and alpacas are often used in the place of traditional animals, and the greenery used for decoration comes straight from the Andes Mountains. These scenes will remain until January 6th. This day signifies the arrival of the three wise men. Check out these beautiful Nativity scenes in the churches throughout Cusco during Christmas!
Peruvian Christmas Eve Dinner
Unlike many other countries, the main day for celebrating Christmas is Christmas Eve, December 24th. After attending mass at 10 pm, families gather to celebrate with a delicious Peruvian Christmas dinner, often consisting of a turkey cooked with Peruvian Pisco, guinea pig, various soups, and sweet bread.
It is also common to do the traditional gift exchange after the meal, and afterwards to dance the night away!
AMAUTA Spanish students who stay in homestay families can participate in these festivities with their family, and others may dare to cook their own Peruvian Christmas Eve dinner with fellow travelers in the AMAUTA Student Residence in the city center of Cusco.
Normal Tourist Activities
In addition to the traditional festivities in the city itself, tours throughout the region will still be up and running over Christmas. This means that it´s possible to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at Machu Picchu! What better way to spend Christmas than reflecting on the year at these famous Incan ruins? Other tours and excursions, such as going to the Sacred Valley or traveling to Lake Titicaca, are also available. We recommend you contact our travel partner Dos Manos Peru Travel and/or read their special Christmas offer