Learn about the Cultural Heritage of Peru at the San Sebastián Festival


Cusco has a great calendar of festivities and celebrations. Most are held in tribute to a patron and they are part of the Christian calendar adopted in the colonial era though they have mixed with the ancestral beliefs.

San Sebastián Festival, the religious celebration of the patron of Cusco, takes place every January 20 with great folk dances.

Learn about the Cultural Heritage of Peru at the San Sebastián Festival

The San Sebastian Festival was declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation by the National Institute of Culture (INC) by the importance of the Festival at local and regional level. It is one of the cults of cusco with most projection in the Department and it has a great historical significance.

A bit of history

San Sebastian is a Saint venerated by the Catholic and the Orthodox Church. The cult of San Sebastian is very old. San Sebastian came to Cusco in the 17TH century a few years after  the arrival of the Spanish, and quickly become the patron of the Indians.

After the construction of the first tower of the temple of San Sebastian in 1664 there was a plague and for this reason the faithful flocked to San Sebastian, directing him prayers and producing a miracle. Then the people began to give all kinds of offerings and gifts to San Sebastian.

How is the St. Sebastian Festival

On January 20 is held a mass in the morning and at the end the procession starts by the historical center which is in charge of the Holy Brotherhood of Chargers of the Patron San Sebastian founded in 1960.

At the end of the San Sebastián Festival people go out dancing accompanied by musical bands in search of the Walqanchas, gifts given to the organizers.

In addition there are various manifestations of oral tradition, images, elements of music, dance and gastronomy. The cusquenian believe that their Patron Saint San Sebastian lives in Cusco and keeps alive the great hispano-andina heritage that represents.

We share a video of the St. Sebastian Festival (2016)


Bonus Track

If you travel to Cusco don’t miss the following posts:

Cusco Historic Center

Where to buy handicrafts in Cusco

Peruvian cuisine: 10 Must-Eat Dishes

Best time to visit Cusco[:]