If you have decided to spend Christmas in Cusco, you’re in for a cultural treat! Of course, some things will be like what you know, but there will be a lot of new customs for you to experience and foods to try.
We’ve decided to help you when planning your festive trip and have collected a few of the things you can’t miss out on at this time of year. After all, you want to make the most of it if you’re spending Christmas away from home.
Wander Around the Center
As with many cities around the world, there are a lot of lights up around the center. The Plaza de Armas looked absolutely beautiful all lit up in the evenings. Why not enjoy a festive drink on one of the surrounding balconies and appreciate the view.
The 23rd and 24th of December are also excellent dates to visit the main square. The artisanal fair known as ‘Santuranticuy’ is held where you will find all sorts of homemade products from potteries, T-shirts, gifts, and a whole lot more. It makes you feel very Christmassy as you walk around and are surrounded by all the locals.
You’ll also see that there, and in many places around the city, they sell moss for the floor of people’s nativity scenes as well as baby Jesus and new outfits for his wardrobe!
Enjoy Christmas Eve Mass
If you enjoy going to church or would like to experience a service in the incredible Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, this is a lovely time to visit. At 10 pm on Christmas Eve they hold a mass called ‘Misa de Gallo’. You’ll find that the Cathedral is absolutely packed to the brim with locals before they head home for a Christmas toast and some food with family.
A very important Christmas tradition in Cusco is the chocolatadas. Many organisations come together to hold events and bring festive cheer to those less fortunate than them. You’ll see hundreds of people coming from the small communities that surround Cusco to enjoy themselves.
Children enjoy a few mugs of tasty hot chocolate with a piece of bread or paneton (the Christmas cake that they commonly eat here). Toys are also often handed out and it’s lovely to see the smiles on their faces.
Celebrate on the 24th
In a lot of countries, the 25th is the main event where we sit down to eat with our families. Well, in Cusco, many celebrate more on the 24th, at midnight! They will pass the evening sipping hot chocolate and having fun as a family before popping open the champagne and enjoying a big dinner at 12 am. Fireworks go off all over the city and it’s really quite exciting to experience it.
The 25th is generally quite all over town. Some people will go out to eat, but you won’t find it to be too Christmassy. In some homes, they will be enjoying dinner with their family, but if you want a cosy festive lunch, we suggest heading out to one of the restaurants in the centre or seeing what your hotel has to offer.
Try All the Food
Of course, as with anywhere, there are a few plates that are traditional this time of year. Some partake in a turkey dinner as many of us do, whereas others like to enjoy a midnight bowl of chicken broth or even go all out and cook a pig in the oven (lechon).
They are all extremely tasty and come with some amazing side dishes, so make sure you get to try as much of it as possible if you’re here.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
So be sure to make the most of your time here and enjoy everything Christmas Cusco has to offer. Remember, it won’t be like back home, but you’ll get to take home some amazing new experiences and see how people celebrate in another part of the world. Enjoy yourselves!
Written by: Liv Palmer
Featured photo: Municipalidad del Cusco