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The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco in 8 colorful pictures

The city of Cusco isn’t just characterized by its impressive legacy of architecture and archeology. Temples, strongholds, palaces, churches, museums and streets are admired by thousands of tourists who visit this majestic city year after year. However, probably not very many tourists know exactly just how impressive the infinite traditions, customs and parties are that bring Cusquenians together in a huge way all year long.

Yes, all year. Maybe it’s a bit uncomfortable when fireworks wake you up at 6:00 AM, but in this moment, when explosions in the sky startle you, remember that it’s a symbol of people’s joy and the resistance of a culture that’s survived bloody discrimination for 500 years.

And how did the Andean culture survive after colonization? Well, they did it by blending themselves intelligently with the culture brought from Spain. Ancient Andean people were able to send secret messages through their celebrations that on the outside were Catholic but on the inside maintained codes and symbols that are deeply Andean.

It’s because of this that every January 20th, there’s celebration in the traditional district of San Sebastian (6 km from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco) of the festival of their patron saint accompanied by delicious, traditional food, dances, euphoria and a series of traditions that will truly surprise you. Saint Sebastian was a French martyr of astounding beauty who was persecuted for his Christian faith and shot through by an arrow, naked, after being tied to a tree. In Andean culture, Saint Sebastian is the representation of Amazonian warriors, and he’s considered to have come from the region of Antisuyu. Because of this, he’s always watched over by the Qhapaq ch’unchus.

To continue, we want to show you 8 impressive photos to display the beauty and colors of this festival.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 1: The group Wayri Chunchus with Pablitos and the Mayordoma 2019. The youth and maturity of human beings seen together in the festival of San Sebastian, Cusco.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 2: The fun and provoking maqt’a, a character who fills any traditional festival of Cusco with mischief. His mask is a symbol of the union between the sacred and the profane that characterize Andean celebrations.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 3: A group of youth Qhapaq Qollas who represent the merchants of the Altiplano region. Many consider Qhapaq Qollas to be half human, half llama beings.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 4: Maqt’a with a surprising mask. It shows a frog on his cheek as well as a miner’s hull with two cans of beer. The maqt’a is a rowdy jokester of a character.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 5: A group of young women in the dance Qanchi Sarasani. They are a demonstration that the youth of Cusco enjoy keeping their traditions alive.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 6: Mayordoma 2019 from the group Wayri Chunchu with a palm cane, sacred wood from the Amazon, which is a symbol of authority.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 7: Patron Saint Sebastian is carried by barefoot bearers. They use traditional q’eperina (those blankets with beautiful colors and designs) to carry the saint.

The festival of San Sebastian in Cusco

Photo 8: Children are the future of the peruvian ancient traditions.

Whenever you get here, find out about the festivals happening, and visit them without a doubt. Make friends, and feel within yourself the true spirit of the Andean culture. See you there!

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