The Traditional Christmas Fair of Cusco


Santurantikuy is an emblematic festivity celebrated every December 23rd and 24th in the city of Cusco, Peru. This ancestral tradition has become one of the most anticipated events during the Christmas season, attracting both locals and visitors from all over the world.

During Santurantikuy, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco transforms into a colorful Christmas market, full of life and joy. Local artisans and merchants exhibit a wide variety of products, from nativity figures and Christmas ornaments to traditional textiles.

Santurantikuy: Cusco's traditional Christmas Fair

The fair offers a unique opportunity to appreciate and acquire authentic handicrafts, handmade with great skill and care. Visitors can marvel at the beautiful ceramic and wooden figures representing biblical characters, as well as the exquisite details of Andean textiles and Christmas decorations.

Santurantikuy is much more than a simple Christmas market; it is an experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of Cusco. It is a time to celebrate family unity, share the magic of Christmas, and feel the welcoming spirit of this historic city.

If you have the opportunity to visit Cusco during the Christmas season, do not miss the wonderful experience of “Santurantikuy”. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, admire the unique handicrafts, and savor the traditional flavors. Experience the authentic Christmas tradition in the heart of the Peruvian Andes and create unforgettable memories in this enchanting and traditional celebration.

History of Santurantikuy

The history of Santurantikuy dates back to the 16th century when the Spanish introduced the Catholic religion to the Inca Empire. During the Christmas season, it was customary to set up nativity scenes or “belenes” in churches and homes, representing the birth of Jesus. However, due to the scarcity of figures and objects for the nativity scenes, the inhabitants of Cusco began to make and sell their own handmade creations.

Over time, this exchange of figurines and nativity elements turned into a Christmas market known as Santurantikuy, which means “sale of saints.” During the festivity, artisans and merchants gather in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco to exhibit and sell their products, ranging from small ceramic and wooden figurines to Christmas decorations and ornaments.

Date and Location of the Christmas Fair

Cusquenian handicrafts for Santurantikuy - Christmas Cusco

The date of Santurantikuy, December 23rd and 24th, marks Christmas Eve, and the Plaza de Armas fills with a festive and joyful atmosphere. During this festivity, local traders and artisans come together in the square to offer a wide variety of Christmas products and traditional handicrafts.

Located in the historic center of Cusco, the Plaza de Armas is the perfect place to experience authentic Cusco culture and immerse yourself in the Christmas tradition. The square is filled with stalls displaying nativity figures, Christmas decorations, Andean textiles, ceramics, and typical sweets. Additionally, during Santurantikuy.

Traditional Products Offered at Santurantikuy

Santurantikuy offers a wide range of traditional products that capture the essence of Peruvian Christmas. In this vibrant event, local artisans and traders exhibit their unique and authentic creations, providing visitors with an unmatched experience.

Among the most outstanding products found at Santurantikuy are meticulously crafted nativity figures. These ceramic or wooden sculptures represent biblical characters and are a central element in Peruvian Christmas decor. Each figure showcases the talent and skill of local artisans, who work with dedication to create high-quality pieces.

In addition to nativity figures, Santurantikuy offers a variety of handmade Andean textiles. These colorful textiles reflect the region’s rich textile tradition and feature unique and meaningful designs. From ponchos and shawls to rugs and blankets, the textiles at Santurantikuy are appreciated for their beauty and cultural authenticity.

Cusquenian tradition - herbs for sale - Christmas Cusco

Tips for Visiting Santurantikuy

If you’re planning to visit this charming celebration, here are some useful tips to make the most of your experience at Santurantikuy:

Plan ahead

Santurantikuy attracts a large number of visitors, so it’s important to plan your trip in advance. Make sure to book your accommodations and flights early to secure your stay in Cusco during the festivity.

Get early

Santurantikuy starts early in the morning, so it’s recommended to get early at the Plaza de Armas to enjoy the festivity at its fullest. This way, you can explore the stalls, admire the handicrafts, and enjoy the activities without crowds.

Clothes appropriately

Cusco can be cold at night, so make sure to wear warm and comfortable clothing. It’s also advisable to wear appropriate footwear for walking and enjoying the festivity without any issues.

Secure your belongings

Due to the large influx of visitors at Santurantikuy, it’s important to be mindful of your belongings at all times. Use secure bags or backpacks and keep your valuables close to you. Avoid carrying unnecessary items and be cautious in crowded areas.

Be prepared for rain

It’s common for Cusco to experience rain in December. Be sure to bring an umbrella or raincoat to protect yourself from the rain. It’s also recommended to wear suitable footwear that provides traction in case of slippery surfaces.

Have cash on hand

While some stalls may accept credit or debit cards, it’s recommended to carry cash for your purchases during the festivity. Make sure to have small denomination bills to facilitate change.

Explore the fair before making a purchase

Santurantikuy offers a wide variety of stalls and artisanal products. Before making a purchase, we recommend exploring the entire fair to compare prices and quality. This way, you can make an informed choice and find the products you like the most.

Establish a meeting point

Due to the crowd, it’s easy to get lost at Santurantikuy. Before starting your tour, establish a meeting point with your travel company to avoid complications. This way, you can easily reunite in case of getting lost.

cusquenian handicrafts - tradition of religious nativity scenes

Competition and Medal for the Best Artisan (December 24th)

Contest and Medal for the Best Artisan: One of the main attractions of Santurantikuy is the contest and awarding of the Medal for the Best Artisan, carried out by the mayor of Cusco. Don’t miss this exciting competition where local artisans showcase their talent and creativity.

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