Customs, Food Culture

Celebrate Carnival in Cuzco

Watch Out. I've Got Foam.

Carnival is a celebration in which every Cuzqueño and every visitor to the city can have fun dancing, singing, playing, and looking at the allegories put up for Carnival.

The most spectacular attractions of the celebration take place where yunzas, trees have been set up filled with gifts tied to their branches.  You can watch people dance around the tree striking at it with an axe.  If you pay attention to the pacing of the blows you can join others in running to grab a gift, or maybe just a cold.

The main celebration of Cuzco’s Carnival is carried out in the Plaza de Armas, the Main Square, of Cuzco.  There public and private institutions of the region present the best of their dances, troupes, and pandillas.  Many of these have been winners in the diverse carnivalesque festivals of the South Valley and the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Although the date for Carnival varies every year, generally it takes place either in the months of February of beginnings of March.  On these dates the people of Cuzco set up gastronomic fairs where you can try thimpu, also called puchero, which is the traditional dish of Carnival.

Covered with Foam
Covered with Foam

Young people have the most fun during Carnival.  They get together in groups of maybe 10 young men, or ten young women.  The goal is to make sure that ever young person of the opposite sex gets soaked.  As a result, they fill lots of water balloons, carry buckets of water, and also buy water guns or maybe cans of foam.  The fun is in the battle of the sexes in which you drench the others while trying to avoid getting wet yourself.

The rhythm of the period comes from the music and dances, such as the famous Carnaval del Cusco, the Cuzco-style Carnival Dance.  It is known by its clothing and its happy music which is danced around the yunza, the tree being cut.

The Yunza Tree with Gifts
The Yunza Tree with Gifts

Many other dances also carry the name of carnival as well as the carnival type of clothing.  In the zones near Cuzco they use different dress such as chullos, sandals, and many other items that identify the dancers as being from a particular place.

Since people have so much fun in the Cuzco Carnival, you should not miss these events and take advantage to enjoy Carnival in Cuzco.

Fireworks Ready to be Fired
Fireworks Ready to be Fired
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