Discover the fascinating fusion of cultures and celebrations that make Santurantikuy and Christmas in Cusco a unique experience in the world.

A Glimpse into the Magic of Santurantikuy and Christmas in Cusco

Welcome to Cusco, land of ancient civilizations, majestic ruins, and traditions that endure through the centuries. In this article, we will explore the magical combination of Santurantikuy and Christmas in Cusco, delving into the cultural roots that make these festivities an unforgettable experience.

The Saints Fair: Santurantikuy in Cusco


Every December 23rd and 24th, the streets of Cusco come alive with the celebration of Santurantikuy, a traditional fair that merges pre-Inca and colonial elements. What makes this fair special? Discover it below!

Origins of Santurantikuy

Etymologically, the word Santurantikuy comes from the Quechua language, meaning “Sale of Saints.” This festival dates back to the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish in Cusco.

During that time, with the process of evangelization, religious celebrations such as Christmas were established, requiring decorations for the nativity scenes. This created a demand for artisans who could craft these decorations.

It was the clerics who guided the Inca artisans to develop such craftsmanship related to Christmas. Over the years, these crafts, including Manuelitos, little angels, the Three Wise Men, nativity animals, etc., were perfected.

Crafts and Colors: The Santurantikuy Market

Santurantikuy: Crafts and Colors

At the heart of the fair, a bustling crafts market comes to life. Here, local artisans showcase their skills, offering colorful representations of Cusco’s culture. From traditional textiles to ceramic sculptures, each piece tells a unique story, including:

  • Oil paintings with religious motifs from the renowned Cusco school.
  • Plaster sculptures of Catholic saints, virgins, Christs, and the popular child Manuelito.
  • Gold and silver jewelry, such as crowns, earrings, and necklaces, to adorn nativity figures.
  • Traditional ceramics, featuring the classic Pucará bulls.
  • Beautiful weavings in alpaca wool and cotton, including small traditional costumes for dressing Manuelitos and other Christmas figures.
  • All these crafts are available at reasonable prices for the traditional nativity setup, especially during the Christmas season.

The Child Manuelito

Child Manuelito

The central figure in this Christmas celebration is the so-called “Child Manuelito,” representing the baby Jesus in the manger. It is named after the interpretation of the biblical passage mentioning the Messiah’s birth with the name Emmanuel, which evolved into Manuel in local folklore and affectionately into Manuelito.

The Child Manuelito has a detailed angelic face, glass eyes, natural hair, and root teeth. Its naked body has very well-proportioned anatomical features, unusual in religious sculptures. It is said that its garments need to be changed every year due to how mischievous and dirty it becomes.

Recommendations for Santurantikuy

  • Arrive Early: The fair starts early in the morning at 7:00 am, so make sure to arrive early to avoid crowds and enjoy a more relaxed experience.
  • Explore the Crafts Market: Dedicate time to explore the crafts market. You’ll discover incredible traditional Cusco artwork, from paintings to sculptures and weavings.
  • Meet the Artisans: Interact with local artisans. Many of them will be delighted to share their stories and techniques, giving you a deeper perspective of the region’s cultural richness.
  • Capture the Festive Atmosphere: Bring a camera or your smartphone to capture the festive atmosphere. The colorful decorations, artistic expressions, and vibrant energy deserve to be immortalized.
  • Walk Through All Passageways: Explore each of the passageways and streets around the Plaza de Armas, where the fair extends, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Acquire Authentic Souvenirs: Take the opportunity to buy authentic souvenirs. Gold and silver jewelry, ceramics, and local weavings are excellent choices to take a piece of Cusco’s culture with you.
  • Bring Cash: It’s likely that the vendor stalls won’t accept debit or credit card payments.
  • Dress According to the Season: Consider the December weather in Cusco and dress accordingly. Wear comfortable and warm clothing, as the nights can be cool at this time of year.

The Magic of Christmas in Cusco: Illuminating Decorations on the Streets

As Santurantikuy reaches its peak, Cusco transforms into a magical scene with twinkling lights and festive decorations. The cobblestone streets light up, and the lampposts, trees in the Plaza de Armas, and balconies around are adorned with sparkling white and golden lights, creating a fascinating visual atmosphere when night falls over the historic Andean capital, inviting you to explore every corner of the city.

Leave a Reply

Follow us on Facebook


Tours to Machupicchu

Proceed Booking