Cuban festivals are world famous for their vibrancy, color, and excitement. Tourists from all over the globe time their travel plans to coincide with one or more of their favorite festivals in this beautiful country.
One of the most popular Cuban festivals is the Havana Jazz Festival that began in 1978 as a concert performed by Bobby Carcasses and other Jazz musicians. It was held in downtown Havana in the Casa del la Cultura de Plaza, an open air venue. They repeated the performance the next year and artists from all over the world were soon gathering annually to jam together. During the festival you’ll be able to enjoy impromptu street jams at nearly any time of the night or day. There are concerts at most of the city’s main concert halls as well as street performers. Many visitors enjoy sipping delectable Cuban coffee and listening to the music in the streets. There are master classes, symposiums, and other activities for artists as well as the general public. You’ll be able to enjoy an opening ceremony and closing pageant; there is music in every restaurant, club and public space for the week of the festival.
In June there is the International Boleros de Oro Festival that brings performers, composers and fans of bolero together from all over the world. Bolero is a form of Latin music and dance that was first created by a Spanish dancer, Sebastian Cerezo, in 1780. The Cubans slowed down the original dance and music and made it more sensual and romantic. Most events are held in Havana but other cities also celebrate it with their own activities. You can enjoy art exhibitions with musical themes at various galleries, symposiums with themes such as Bolero’s societal influence and its impact on other cultures, and performances in the Bolero genre.
In July Havana celebrates Carnaval with parades and dance in every neighborhood. The people practice for months to put on entertaining shows and spend weeks making their costumes. There is dancing, music, and delectable treats from street venders like tamales, chicharritas, and roast pork. Tourists and residents alike wander among outdoor concerts by Cuba’s hottest bands.
Then there is Las Parrandas de Remedios in Santa Clara on Christmas Eve, the climax of the Christmas festival. This celebration is said to have originate with the frustration of a 19th century priest who was at his wit’s end trying to get people to attend mass. He persuaded children to flood the streets and make as much noise as they could to drive people to church. Instead, the people flowed into the streets and began to party. The two neighborhoods of El Carmen and San Salvador compete to see who can make the most elaborate float. Throughout the night there are fireworks and street parties. You should not miss out on the fun and beauty of this aspect of Cuba.