Hundreds of Peruvians celebrated Christmas and the upcoming new year in traditional style, by fighting each other at the annual Takanakuy festival.

The event, held near the city of Cusco, brought together hundreds of residents to clash over simmering disputes, in the belief that once they have fought they can start the new year in peace.

The contestants, men, women and even children, many donning colourful face masks and Andean horse-riding gear, greet each other with handshakes and hugs before lunging into battle.

Judges and referees were on hand to declare the winners in fights stemming from legal matters to stolen lovers.

The confrontations are supervised by local authorities and referees mediate the bare-knuckled, free-kicking brawls which are designed to allow people to let go of anger from personal or economic problems.

Takanakuy combines the native words 'takay', meaning fight and 'nakuy', meaning mutual, and is celebrated yearly here in an event that community members say strengthens relationships.