Semana Santa or Holy Week is one of the biggest festivities of the year in Cusco and this year it will take place from Sunday 14th of April until Sunday 21st April 2019. We’ve put together a list of top things to see and do during Easter & Semana Santa in Cusco 2019 that will help you experience the local religious traditions during this important Cusco festivity.
Palm Sunday – Sunday 14th April
Traditionally celebrated by attending mass and having palms blessed. Masses will take place in the Cathedral on the Main Square also known as Plaza de Armas at 5.30am, 7am, 8.30am and 10am.
Holy Monday – Monday 15th of April
This is effectively the most important day of the Holy Week festivities and includes the famous Procession of ‘El Señor de los Temblores’ (The Lord of Earthquakes).
This saint is of particular importance to the people of Cusco after the figure of this saint was brought out from the cathedral to successfully end a powerful earthquake whose successive tremors were demolishing the city back in 1650.
The procession starts at 2pm leaving from the cathedral and parades around the historic centre returning to the main square at approx. 7pm, which is usually packed at this point. You can’t miss the procession as crowds will start to gather hours before in the Plaza de Armas or main square to get a good viewpoint.
The procession will also be broadcast live on giant screens which will be located on Plazoleta Espinar and Avenida Sol for those that want to view the procession in more comfort.
Masses will be held in the cathedral on the Main Square at 8am, 9am, 10am and 11am on Holy Monday.
Holy Thursday – Thursday 18th April
Holy Thursday is another important day in this religious festivity. All the churches in Cusco are open to the public with no entry charge. Tradition has it that if you visit seven churches your wish will be granted!
Official activities include a solemn mass in the cathedral at 4pm followed by a procession to the Templo de la Sagrada Familia.
Holy Thursday tradition also dictates the eating of 12 different dishes of food that includes dishes that contain potatoes, corn, shrimp and desserts like mazamorra or special Semana Santa empanadas.
Local families usually gather together to eat in remembrance of the last supper. Most restaurants usually offer some type of local dishes that you can try.
Good Friday – Friday 19th April
Good Friday tends to be quieter in Cusco than earlier in during Holy Week. The mass to celebrate the Passion of Christ takes place at 3pm followed by the Procession of Santo Sepulcro (Holy Sepulchre) at 5pm from the Templo de la Merced.
Easter Sunday – Sunday 21st April
Easter Sunday masses will be held in the cathedral at 5.30am, 7am, 8.30am and 10am.
Best of Peru Travel Recommends:
- Semana Santa in Cusco is a religious festival not a tourist event, so do remember to be respectful at all times and refrain from taking photos in any of the churches.
- Try to get a spot in one of the balconies overlooking the Plaza de Armas or main square for the best views of the El Señor de los Temblores(The Lord of Earthquakes) Procession.
- Be aware that the cathedral and some of the churches do close to the public for certain masses and other events. No tourist visits of the Cusco cathedral are possible on Holy Monday so do plan around this if you are going to be in Cusco and want to visit the cathedral.