World's Strangest Festivals
Where: Cuzco, Peru.
What: Reenactment of an ancient Incan sun ceremony. Since 1944, hundreds of actors gather, dressed in traditional Incan garb (colorful tunics for the lower class, llama wool for the upper class, and vicuña wool for royalty). In a procession from the Qorikancha, the Incan temple dedicated to the Sun God, the lucky man chosen to portray the emperor is carried on a golden throne to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán, where he asks for the sun’s blessing in Classical Quechua, the original language of the Incas.
Why: For the Incans, the Sun God Inti was the creator of all life—and his return every year after a long, cold winter was enthusiastically celebrated on the winter solstice. The festival traditionally included offerings such as coca tea and a white sacrificial llama—these days, the sacrifice is only a stage act.
When: June 24.
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