What is the Corpus Christi Festival?

This festival is celebrated all over Peru but is most impressive in Cusco. Sixty days after Easter Sunday, fifteen saints and virgins from the surrounding region arrive to be paraded around the main Plaza and greet the body of Christ in the Cusco cathedral. The festival in Cusco is colorful and highly traditional, a wonderful opportunity for visitors.

The day before, it starts with the arrival of the Saints at the cathedral of the city, accompanied by faithful Christians, musicians and dancers. On the main day, the procession and celebration of the fifteen images of saints and virgins take place at the church. It is led by a silver chariot that is carrying the guard. On the eighth day, the Saints return to their original churches, where they will stay for the rest of the year.

Children dressed up with colorful dresses for the celebration at Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

Twelve traditional dishes are prepared and consumed the night before the main festival date, including cuy (guinea pig), chiriuchu (a medley of many smaller portions of traditional dishes), chicha (corn beer), and bread. Various fruits, such as chirimoya (custard apple), coconut and sugar cane are also traditional during this celebration. The main Plaza de Armas is full of attendees, and after the procession, local community members meet to discuss any problems. On the eighth day (El Octavo), the saints and virgins are paraded around the plaza again before returning to their communities for the remainder of the year.

Woman selling local food during the Corpus Christi Festival in Cusco.

Visitors at this time will find themselves inevitably drawn into the Corpus Christi crowds. If you are in the historic center, you will likely see one of the saints or virgins making their way towards the Cathedral.

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Procession of the Saints at main square of Cusco (Plaza de Armas).
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