New Year’s Eve in Cusco, Peru

I think the video explains all the chaos and excitement of the New Year’s celebration in Cusco, Peru better than I ever could in words.

Cusco is one of the two most popular places to celebrate New Years in Peru (the other being Mancora) and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

The city grew in anticipation from before christmas leading up to the big night. Tourists from all over Peru, Argentina and the world flooded Cusco and filled up the hostels and hotels. So much so that I had to walk the streets of Cusco on the 30th to find a place to sleep after finding the hotel I booked a reservation through boarded up and shut down, no notice necessary I guess.

Street vendors lined the streets, while natives came in from outside the city to sell their wares and experience the festivities.

As mentioned in the video, one of the most interesting things about cruising around the open street markets were seeing all the superstitious tokens Peruvians purchased for the New Years celebration.

Yellow was the color of choice, everything from yellow hats, confetti, flowers and underwear. From there it was fake stacks of US dollars on sticks, incense, wine, grapes, panetón (like fruit cake) and fireworks.

Also, like you see in the video, fireworks were everywhere. Kids sold them on the streets, families lit them off as they walked and crazy bastards shot them at each other and lit them off themselves.

The most amazing thing about the fireworks though was watching the sky fill with multiple colors and explosions for hours from the main square out into the surrounding hills of Cusco.

Once midnight hit everyone starts running around Plaza de Armas for good luck. I even saw some locals carry around suitcases as they ran, which I was told meant good luck for traveling in the New Year.

It was one of the most incredible festivals I have ever been a apart of and would love to return one day (with earplugs).

Here are some photos from New Year’s Eve in Cusco, Peru…

The Streets of Cusco Peru
The Calm Before The Storm: The Streets of Cusco, Peru pre New Years Celebration
New Years Eve in Cusco, Peru
Selling good luck trinkets at the central market on New Years Eve in Cusco, Peru
New Years Eve in Cusco Peru
Yuca and Yellow Flowers on the streets of Cusco
New Years Eve in Cusco Peru
Lucky Money Sticks for Wealth in the New Year from Cusco, Peru
Kids Buying Fireworks on New Years Eve in Cusco Peru
"Yes, I'll take the rocket launcher and just a few Punishers for my little sister"
Plaza de Armas in Cusco Peru on New Years Eve
A bustling Plaza de Armas before all the New Years Action
New Years Eve in Cusco Peru
Celebrate Life - New Years Eve in Cusco Peru
New Years Eve in Cusco Peru
This is the point where I should have turned off the camera.

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My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


    1. Thanks Marina, it’s something I’d love to share with friends and family one day. Hopefully in a few years I can plan a big trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu with crew! All the best in Chile.

  1. Could you ever imagine random fireworks in Times Square like that ? and running after a night of celebrating ?? pretty funny ritual. I think your grandpa Al had the right idea with a gathering of friends for champagne and black eyed peas for good luck….less dangerous.

    1. This definitely wouldn’t fly in the States. You had kids just tossing firecrackers into crowds… out of control! I’d like to do grandpa’s tradition before the big event for good luck just surviving!

  2. What an amazing video! … I’m Peruvian, but you have this incredible way for showing us your feelings and experiences that makes me being grateful with your job and with you… I’m glad you’d enjoyed your visit over here.
    Wish I had the opportunity to travel and to know another cultures as much as you’ve already had.
    If you are planning to come to Peru one more time, I can show you more about Lima, the Capitol City.

  3. Gosh Gareth, your post was what I needed to get all excited about my trip for new years to Cuzco. Just a little question. considering that I want to visit all the attractions in Cuzco and also celebrate new years, how many days do you think I should stay there?

    Keep up your amazing blog!


  4. Hello Gareth!

    Cheers from Rio !

    Just loved your video! I will be in Cusco for 10 days in december, spend Christmas and News Eve with my mother (young soul, younger than me actually :-))
    So, what do you recommend for Newd Eve, have a nice dinner in a Restaurant with Plaza´s View ? If so, tell me what please. And before the firewoks starts go to the crowd !!

    And if you know about Christmas, what to do, dont hesitate and tell me. BY the way, do your know if it will be VERY RISKY to get Vista Dome and Machu Picchu entrances for 27 december/29 december on my arrival by 23 december?? Dollar is so High nowadays from Brazil (seems like EUROS!) that maybe is good to wait…and as i read i can chance REAL to SOLES in Cusco veru easily! But better than change here or by Vistodome and etc by credicard and pay in dollars plus IOF……… So, if you tell me that i can get easily entrances there…

    I saw that you had been in Paraty, green Coast of Rio! I Love it as well !!! Have you been to BÙZIOS?? Our little cozy beach area…Now i am living nearby, in “Região dos Lagos” a small town called Araruama, with the biggest salted laggon in the world i guess! Kitesurf area and beautifull Salt Mills !
    A place in Brazil that is paradisiac is an island called Fernando de Noronha!!! I´ve been there twice, so incredible sea!
    Where are you from by the way?

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