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Feast of the Virgin of Carmen

109 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in Paucartambo, tradition and joviality come together for this celebration

The Virgin of Carmen or Mamacha Carmen, fondly called in Paucartambo, is celebrated in many cities of Peru, Latin America and Spain. Undoubtedly, the celebration in this picturesque province of Cusco is an experience that you can not miss.

Let’s beggin the celebration!

The Feast of the Virgin of Carmen begins on July 15 and ends on July 19. The participants celebrate the beginning with the explosion of a rocket, the same one that is answered by the ringing of the bells and by the interpretation of musical bands. Moments later, the procession begins in which the dancers will take center stage, each with their musical ensemble and the “Wax Apaycuy” or “Transfer of Waxes” in which flowers are taken to offer them as a gift to the Virgin of Carmen and decorate with them the altar and walk of the image.

Altar of the Virgin of Carmen

The night is opportune to start the “qonoy” or bonfire, where musicians and dancers of the troupes of the Q’olqas, the Chunchus and the Maqtas, start their games jumping over the bonfires, playing and dancing with the people. In the center of the square a fireworks castle is built and it is where both ceremonies are mixed to form an unforgettable act.

At ten o’clock in the evening, the Prioste together with his band of musicians and troupes give a serenade to the Virgin of Carmen, who is followed by a group of dancers who present their choreography in the atrium of the church , but without disguises, showing themselves as they are.

The central day

The central day of the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen begins with an aurora mass, celebrated at the break of day, and is followed by the expected mass of the festival where beautiful songs of the comparsas: the Qollas and the black Qhapac stand out. After this ceremony, the groups of dancers begin to dance on streets, then the whole town gathers in it, where from the balcony of the municipal library they drop fruits and small objects of local crafts. The month of July is the time after the harvests and before the first sowing, so this tradition is possible on this date since it alludes to a favorable harvest.

Dancer of the “contradanza” at the feast of the Virgin of Carmen

The most important tradition of the day is the great procession of the Virgin of Carmen which starts at 3:00 p.m. On the roofs and balconies, the Saqras, who represent the devil, wait for the “mamacha” to tempt her as well as her faithful devotees, doing acrobatics on the roofs and poles of the plaza. A peculiar dance full of mischief, agility and mischief, would you miss it?

Traditions, stories and 18 different groups of dancers who dance in honor of the Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo, identify the celebrations these 4 days. You don’t know how to get there? Do not worry!

How to get there

The beautiful province of Paucartambo is 109 km away from the city of Cusco, it is a journey of approximately four hours and costs around 20 soles.

  • At the Cusco airport you can ask for a taxi to go to the “Diagonal” bus stop, which is where the buses leave for Paucartambo.
  • In Paucartambo, you will not need a taxi, the distance from the bus terminal to the town is 5-10 minutes walking.

What to take

  • Sunblock
  • Lipbalm
  • Sunglasses
  • Warm clothing

Do you have everything ready? Do not miss wonderful costumes, exotic processions, hypnotic dances, and a fascinating syncretism that mixes Inca, Spanish and Catholic traditions, will take you to another dimension!

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