Quick Summary in 3 Sentences
The wet season in Cusco is from mid-October – the end of April, with January and February seeing the largest rain fall. June – September is high season in Cusco, and many of the best hotels and trains for Machu Picchu get booked up during this period. The festivals of Inti Raymi and Corpus Christi and Chirstmas and New Year are the busiest individual days of the year.
The Dry Season (May – mid-October)
The dry season is by far the most popular time to visit Cusco. This is when the city’s most sought-after accommodations are at their maximum capacity, the best train schedules to Machu Picchu are quickly booked up and when Cusco’s tourist attractions are at their busiest. The peak months are from June to September. The festival month of June which includes Inti Raymi is always a busy time in Cusco, and Corpus Christi celebrated 60 days after Easter Sunday is also a busy time.
The Wet Season (mid-October – April)
Although tourism is fairly busy throughout the year, it is during the wet season months that less foreign visitors travel to Cusco. The rain starts from around mid-October gradually getting heavier until it peaks in February. It is worth nothing that the wet season is also summer time in Cusco, and during these months the average daily temperatures are often a few degrees higher than that of the dry season. This is particularly noticeable in the evenings and during the night. Christmas and New Year see an increase in tourism, and many of the best Cusco hotels are often booked up 6-8 months in advance.
Important Festivals in Cusco
If you want to experience the best of Peruvian culture, then there is no better time to visit Cusco than during an important festival. Here are 4 of the best:
Inti Raymi (June 24)
The Inca Festival of the Sun – Inti Raymi, which is held annually is a great time to visit Cusco, and a wonderful opportunity to get an insight into how the Inca’s once lived. Plan your trip early as hotels, trains and Machu Picchu tickets get booked up several months in advance. Hotels often charge premium rates the week before and after Inti Raymi.
Corpus Christi (dates vary)
Celebrated 60 days after Easter Sunday, the date of the religious festival of Corpus Christi varies slightly every year. The festival is a Christian observance that honours the Holy Eucharist, and although celebrated across the country, it’s the celebrations in Cusco that are the most spectacular and vibrant.
Senor de los Temblores (dates vary)
Senor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes) happens Monday before Easter, so date changes each year. In 1650, a massive quake hit Cusco and the legend goes that the tremors stopped when a painting of Christ was carried around the Plaza de Armas. This miracle is commemorated each year with a solemn procession of an image of the Lord of Earthquakes around Cusco’s main square – Plaza de Armas.
Christmas & New Year
The week before Christmas until the week after New Year is peak season in Cusco.
The Santuranticuy market held all day on December 24 (Christmas Day in Peru), and is a craft market where local vendors sell everything from toffee apples to hand-made clothes to local Andean herbs. The celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Cusco are like no other. Thousands of locals dressed in traditional yellow garb run in mass around the main plaza. 30 minutes of fireworks and wild celebrations bring in the New Year.
Click here for our Peru festival Calendar.