Special Events in Cuba

Here is a list of events in Cuba throughout the year.

  • Check the links for tours that include participation in SPECIAL EVENTS.
  • Look for the little Red dog'stipstips and/or recommendations from our staff.


  • Festival de la Trova Longina

    early Jan, 2015

    This festival takes place in Santa Clara - Villa Clara. In remembrance of one of the greats of traditional Cuban trova, Manuel Corona, and his immortal song Longina, troubadours of different generations will share the stage with famous Cuban musicians. The event will include theoretical meetings, informal get- togethers and the traditional walk to Caibarién, Corona’s hometown, on the 9th.


    Havana International
    Book Fair

    Feb 17 - Feb 24, 2014

    The 22nd International Book Fair of Havana will begin in Havana City on February 9, 2012 (for ten days), and then it will spread east and west of the capital to all provinces of the country. The book fair will end in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba on March 3. Publishers, writers and bookworms gather at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fort for this popular book fair every year. You can browse through thousands of books, buy, and hear authors discuss their works. Live music, theatre, dance and cinema complete the programme.


    Festival del Habano

    24 Feb - 28 Feb, 2014 - Annual

    2012 with the the 9th edition of Havana's International Cigar Festival. In this occasion, the event will pay special tribute to the Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta, two of the most prestigious Habanos brands. The opening event will take place on Monday, February 27th 2012. In this occasion the Welcoming Evening includes an exclusive concert at the Karl Marx Theater. The event renders tribute to Habanos' brands that are famous throughout the world, and the program includes: visits to cigar factories, a trade fair, seminars, tastings and pairing ups, Habanosommelier contest, demonstrations on how roll a Habano, visit to tobacco plantations.

    OFFICAL WEBSITE.

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    Esteban Salas Early
    Music Festival

    Feb, 2014 - Annual

    This is an annual festival named after Cuban classical composer Esteban Salas. It has been celebrated since 2003—the 200th anniversary of his death. Every year the event gathers outstanding performers of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music who perform in Old Havana headed by Ars Longa, the City Historian’s Office early music ensemble.

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    Memorial Guillermo Barreto
    Percussion Festival

    Early March 2014 - Annual

    This event includes a competition, a theoretical meeting, lectures, guest speeches and concerts. It pays tribute to one of the cult figures of Cuban percussion: Guillermo Barreto, star of the Tropicana Orchestra in the 1950s and founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna. While young talents measure their skills during the competition, experts disclose the secrets of the complex Cuban percussion at theoretical meetings, lectures and guest speeches and the evenings are dedicated to the performances of popular national and international bands and soloists.

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    Memorial Santiago Álvarez International
    Documentary Festival

    March, 2014

    Santiago De Cuba is the host city for this festival which aims at highlighting the prominent role of the documentary which is an acknowledged tradition of significant quality in Cuba. Created in 2000, this festival began as a national event dedicated to the memory celebrated Cuban film-maker, Santiago Alvarez, however throughout the years it has attracted the attention of a number of filmmakers from Latin America, Europe and the United States. The event constitutes a space for exchanging opinions and experiences among filmmakers and lovers of this genre, and involves a films competition, parallel screenings, and theoretical discussions.

    See the official call for documentary film makers from all over the world plus competition information (deadlines are November 30 2012).

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    International Electroacoustic
    Music Festival

    mid March, 2014 - Annual

    Organized by composer Juan Blanco (a pioneer of electroacoustic music in Cuba) the Varadero Spring Festival, as it was first called, gathered important figures which included Jon Appelton, Max Matthew, Leo Kupper, Ahmed Malek, Nicola Sani, Lejaren Hiller, Manuel Enríquez, Ricardo Dal Farra and Andrew Schloss. In 1998, the event moved its venue to Havana's Historical Centre and became the International Electroacoustic Music Festival.

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    International Pepe Sanchez
    Trova Festival

    March 2014 Annual

    Santiago de Cuba is the host city for this festival which celebrates the Trova musical genre. Musicians from different trends within this genre participate, including exponents of more traditional Cuban Trova (the troubador genre of voice, song and poetry that is usually accompanied by a guitar), filin (an evolution of bolero and trova), and of nueva trova (the very Cuban genre of personal commentary influenced by British, US and Brazilian popular music). The festival began in 1962 in homage to local Santiago de Cuba composer Jose ('Pepe') Sanchez (1856-1918), considered the father of Cuban Trova. The closing of the festival on Troubador Day, March 19th, commemorates the anniversary of the birth of Pepe Sanchez.


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    Caribbean Dance Biennial

    March 2014- Biennial

    Dancers, choreographers, teachers and students from the Caribbean and other parts of the world meet during this event as a way of promoting dance in a historically, ethnically and linguistically diverse region. The event will be an excellent opportunity to enjoy performances important soloists and companies from other countries of the region.


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    Gibara Low Budget
    Film Festival

    May 5 - 7, 2014

    El festival del Cine Pobre for one week a year is the small coastal city of Gibara, turns into Cuba's cultural hub as it hosts this film festival that celebrates low-budget, independent, and alternative cinema. Some call it the "Sundance" of Cuba, but without the actors, directors, producers, distributors, promoters and sponsors looking to get rich off the movie business. The festival involves music concerts, theatre, photographic, painting and sculpture exhibitions.

    HUMBERTO SOLAS INTERNATIONAL LOW BUDGET FILM FESTIVAL- see more details and the film and script submission forms.


    Highly recommended and a favourite festival- tour leader Tony.tips

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    Trinidad Cross Procession

    Good Friday, April 18 2014

    The Way of the Cross Procession is a religious tradition that passes through the spectacular colonial streets of Trinidad, on Cuba's south coast. As part of the Easter celebrations, the procession was apparently designed originally to trick looting pirates, and it follows a route marked by crosses.


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    Muestra Internacional
    de Nuevos Realizadores

    April 2014 Annual

    An event for the promotion of new video/filmmakers which serves to get into contact with daring and inquisitive works usually produced outside official production. The event includes the screening of films by young filmmakers, as well as international contemporary cinema, theoretical meetings, discussions and seminars, as well as a competition of unpublished scripts workshops with the participation of important film directors, and an exhibition/competition of posters.

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    Old Havana: City in Movement

    April - Annual

    National and international dancers and dance companies perform in the squares, parks and musuems of Old Havana colonial . The UNESCO World Heritage listed colonial sector of Havana makes a spectacular setting for the artists who perform both tranditional and contemporary dance. Workshops, exhibitions and conferences run alongside the dance performances.

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    May Day Celebrations

    1st May - Annual

    May Day is massively celebrated in Cuba with workers in every town marching with their colleagues to the Revolution Square. Cultural and musical events are held as well as speeches from leading figures. The largest gathering in Cuba is in Havana, where every year more than a million workers, gather at the Plaza de la Revolucion at the foot of the giant statue of Cuba's godfather of the Revolution - Jose Marti.

    In 2013 we have 3 tours that include participation in this event where, in Havana, you will join in the march to the Plaza de Revoluction:

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    Romerias de Mayo

    2 - 8 May - Annual

    This event in the city of Holguin involves a pilgramage to a nearby hilltop and the coming together musicians, actors, researchers, artists, writers and dancers, to share their artistic endeavours during a week long celebration throughout the city. The festival dates back to 1790 where a group of young artists decided to organise a pilgramage with the arrival of spring, and is presided over by a Taino Axe and a Wooden Cross - which are symbolic of Cuba's mixed heritage.

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    Cubadisco

    17 - 25 May 2014 (annual)

    The annual Cubadisco is an excuse to show off Cuba's musical flair. Local musicians perform in different theatres and venues throughout Havana, prizes are awarded to notable figures in the industry, and the hottest new records are unveiled. Every year there is a different theme, often a specific musical genre, and a country of honour.

    For 2013 the fair is in Holguin.

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    17th Festival Internacional
    de Poesía

    26 - 31 May 2014


    A meeting ground for poets from every continent, the International Poetry Festival includes a number of activities, such as seminars, readings and exhibitions. The World Meeting of Poets in Defence of Humanity is also celebrated during the festival.


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    Havana Biennial

    12th festival May/June 2014

    Contemporary art from over 200 international artists is displayed in galleries, museums and cultural spaces across the Cuban capital at this well-established biennial. Considered one of Latin America's pivotal art events, the biennial presents a variety of media, from sculpture to refreshing performance art. Founded in 1984 and initially conceived as a competition, this event was reformulated to focus on key issues concerning contemporary art, embracing artists from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with the gradual incorporation of European, US and Japanese artists. Every two years, Havana swarms with activity with the attendance not only of artists, but critics, curators, dealers, collectors, and art lovers in general. A wide-ranging presentation takes over all the city´s principal galleries and spills out into numerous public arenas. Havana, which during the Biennial is transformed into the largest gallery in the world, becomes a place for debate and reflection on essential problems of our contemporary world.

    Highly recommended - Operations manager Clarita .tips

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    International Ernest Hemingway
    Needlefish Tournament

    May - Annual

    Hundreds of sport fishing enthusiasts head to Havana's Marina Hemingway for this annual event that was started by Hemingway himself in 1950. Hosted by the Hemingway International Nautical Club, it is one of the most important fishing events of the year. The long coral reefs off the Cuban coast create rich feeding grounds and virtually untouched habitats, a bounty that attracts migrating populations of marlin, tuna and wahoo.

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    Festival Internacional
    Boleros de Oro

    June - Annual

    Venue: Mella and America theatres and UNEAC - HAVANA.
    Bolero, a musical genre which emerged in Cuba in the second half of the 19th century is what the International Golden Boleros Festival is all about. This genre has had a marked influence in other countries of the area, including places as far away as Spain and Japan, and its first festival, held in Havana in 1987, is considered the oldest of its kind in Latin America. A Havana celebration in its beginnings, other provinces would become venues in later years given that Bolero is one of the most loved and performed genres in the Island.

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    International Corhabana
    Choir Festival

    29 June - 05 July 2014

    Through song, this festival seeks to foster international friendship and solidarity. Both Cuban and international choirs participate and there are also choral workshops to attend. perform concerts throughout Havana City. Choirs perform in major venues such as the Basilica de la Habana and the Teatro Amadeo Roldan as well as in local neighborhood venues and in schools.

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    Trinidad Carnival
    (Fiestas San Juaneras)

    June 24 - 27 2014

    “Fiestas San Juaneras” is marked by June 24 the Day of San Juan. Between 24 - 27 June a type of Carnival takes place. There is A Ceremony of coronation of "the Queen and the Ladies" ,brilliant local parades of floats and Creole traditions, contests, games, costumes and more. The local 'vacqueros'cowboys show-case their riding ability and their horses.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    Read more about the Fiestas San Juaneras. tips


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    Camaguey Carnival
    (San Juan Camagüeyano)

    June 24 - 29, 2014

    “San Juan Camagüeyano" in Camaguey is marked by June 24 the Day of San Juan. One of the oldest festivals in the country, between 24 - 29 June a type of Carnival takes place.The San Juan Camagüeyano celebration dates from the eighteenth century - the legacy of Western culture that prevailed on the island in colonial times.

    Today, San Juan takes place in Camagüey in an atmosphere of total cultural exhilaration expressed through the assumption of all art forms. The groups, congas and floats that adorn the city in entertaining tours reflecting traditions in all aspects such as the costuming, and of course the burning of an effigy on behalf of St. Peter, to conclude the celebration - similar to the festival del fuego in Santiago.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    • a modified version of the June 23 to Jul 14, 2014 - 22 day Complete Cuba Tour
      This tour also includes another unique festival in Trinidad.
    • a modified version of the June 23 to Jul 07, 2014 - 15 day Original Cuba Tour
      This tour also includes another unique festival in Trinidad.

    Highly recommended - Tour Leader Jorge.tips


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    Festival del Caribe
    (Festival of Fire)

    2 - 8 July, 2014

    Santiago de Cuba hosts this week-long festival that celebrates music and dance from all over the Caribbean area. Called by some the Festival del Caribe and by others the Festival del Fuego it aims at being a forum for exchanges between the diverse cultural manifestations of the region and is dedicated to strengthening ties between peoples and nations by highlighting common cultural elements. It features free outdoor concerts, indoor shows, processions of decorated vehicles, and parades of spectacularly attired dancers, foodstalls, beer stands, and goat powered cart rides for children. The 2012 festival will be dedicated to Martinique. Join or view the facebook page for 'Festival del Fuego': Festival del Fuego

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    Read more about this festival

    Highly recommended - Operations manager Clarita .tips


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    Santiago de Cuba Carnival

    20 - 26 July, 2014

    The carnival of Santiago de Cuba is the largest, most famous, and most traditional carnival in all of Cuba. It is an explosion of colour, contagious drum rhythms, and dance. It is also a time for Cubans to re-gather themselves and remember their history, community, and culture, and is punctuated by the Cuban national holiday of July 26th.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    Read more about the Santiago de Cuba Carnival

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    26 July Celebrations

    26 July - Annual

    26 July is the most important date on Cuba's revolutionary calendar. Patriotic and revolutionary fervour grips the nation, and streets are covered with communist banners, posters and official graffiti. The date is the anniversary of Fidel Castro's ill-fated 1953 assault on Santiago de Cuba's Moncada Barracks, and also the birth of Cuban writer and patriot Jose Martí. Fidel's attack in 1953 failed and the dictator, Batista, was not actually overthrown until 1959. At the Moncada barracks in Santiago, the names of the martyrs of the revolution are read out and guns are fired. A customarily long speeches are broadcast on national television.

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    Festival Internacional de Rap

    01 Aug - Annual

    Titled “Habana Hip Hop”, the Havana International Rap Festival will be held in Alamar - a suburb on the East side of Havana. Hip hop became a sensation in Cuba during the 1990s when this festival was born. Since then, the event has attracted an increasing number of hip hop artists from other countries, as well as featuring many important local groups. There are more than 1,000 rap groups in Cuba today. More recently, the festival has also included rap dancing, graffiti artists, a series of films, and a colloquium with discussion of hip hop culture and issues regarding this type of music which has delved into controversial aspects of Cuban life, such as racism and emerging economic inequalities.

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    Havana Carnival

    August TBC

    While a poor cousin to the more traditional version in Santiago de Cuba, Havana's Carnival still provides a spectacular display of music, dancing, conga lines, fanciful outfits, fireworks, beer, and rum. Parades run the length of the Malécon and rich traditional music competes with more contemporary sounds. Look out too for the Muñecones - huge satirical figures of politicians and other famous faces, in the parades. They are accompanied by the faroleros - dancers who carry a multi-coloured accessory resembling a streetlight, which they rotate constantly. Cuba's renowned carnivals were discontinued for a while during the "special period" (the immense privations which came after the collapse of the USSR and its enormous subsidising of the Cuban economy, which, combined with the US trade embargo, created a large fall in the quality of life in the country). Now that the situation has improved (partly due to the government's new emphasis on tourism), Carnival is back on the menu.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    Stay tuned for precise dates!

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    Matamoros Son Festival

    10 - 14 Sep 2014

    The Festival of Son set in Santiago de Cuba - the birthplace of music in Cuba, and is a tribute to one of the most famous names and most important composers in Cuban - Music Miguel Matamoros (born in 1894 the city of Santiago De Cuba). This festival is a meeting of all the famous musicians in Cuba and joined by international artists from all over the world. The festival has endless concerts, lectures on music Cuban music and traditional music, dances, workshops, book and CD launches, a national dance competition of Cha-cha-cha, son, salsa, casino, mambo, & danzon. A fantastic festival for lovers of Cuban music. Concerts take place in many of the well known venues around the city including: casa de la Musica, casa de la Trova, Teatro Heredia, Casa de los Dos Abuelos, and others.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    Click here - to read more about the Festival.

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    CDR Anniversary

    Sep 28 - Annual

    The CDR's (Comite's de la Defensa de la Revolution) are the main grass-roots organisations of Cuba's socialist system. Each CDR is typically a block of a city. The annual birthday party involves a street party with all the residents of the neighbourhood participating. Among the traditions of the party is the preparation of a caldosa stew that is cooked by wood-fire in a pig pot in the street. Its a great time to interact with the locals.

    You can join in on the celebrations in the neighbourhood of your homestay!!


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    Havana Ballet Festival

    TBC

    Founded in 1960 by Cuban Prima Ballerina Absoluta, Alicia Alonso, this festival attracts top dancers and dance companies from around the world. The Gran Teatro de La Habana and Teatro America are two of the principal venues. Photography and visual arts exhibitions, conferences and related film screenings run alongside the performances throughout the festival, that also reaches out to other cities across the island.

    FESTIVAL WEBSITE.

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    Havana Theatre Festival

    Nov 2014

    The 15th Havana theatre festivalHavana's theatres and cultural spaces come alive with plays for adults and children and the fusion of theatre and dance at this annual event. There are performances from Cuban and international theatre groups as well as workshops, exhibitions and conferences.

    FESTIVAL WEBSITE.

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    Festival Internacional
    de Coros

    Next festival Dec 2015

    "International Festival de Choirs" (Santiago De Cuba)
    It was in the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba where the first known choir pieces in the Island were composed by Havana-born composer Esteban Salas (1725-1803), who for years was chapel master. Honouring this tradition, in 1961 Electo Silva, who has been for decades director of Orfeón Santiago, organized the First Choir Festival in Cuba.
    Throughout the years, vocal groups from all over the world have also participated in the festival together with their Cuban counterparts, winners at prestigious international competitions. An intensive programme of concerts in theatres, schools, factories, hospitals UNESCO listed buildings and public squares throughout the city characterizes these days in which audiences can enjoy the best of the repertoires of choral music, modern, eclectic and gospel music in an a cappella style.

    This event coincides with the following tours during the two nights in Santiago:

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    Marabana Marathon

    3rd Sunday of November


    This sporting event held on the 3rd Sunday of November every year, attracts an attendance of between 1 and 2 thousand walkers and runners, including locals and international athletes from nearly 30 different countries. The half marathon route goes through some of the more scenic areas of Old Havana, Central Havana, and Vedado. Participation is offered for distances of full-marathon (2 laps), half-marathon, as well as 5, 10 and 15km. One day before the Marathon, the internationally recognized running project Maracuba takes place. It mobilizes over 1 million participants and is said to be the largest running event. Simultaneously participants of all ages from hundreds of communities, remote areas, and mountain regions take off for the 3000 and 4000 meter tracks, becoming part of a memorable running experience.

    OFFICIAL MARABANA INSCRIPTION for foreign participants online.

    See the official WEBSITE

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    Havana Jo Jazz

    Nov 2014 Havana

    Venue:Teatro Amadeo Roldán.

    Jo Jazz-Joven Jazz or Young Jazz-takes place prior to the Havana International Jazz Festival as a competition for young musicians. Proposed by five-time Grammy winner Chucho Valdés in 1998, this competition for young jazz singers and composers from 16 to 30 years of age has had contestants who today rank among the most outstanding in the musical panorama of the Island. A special bonus for the winners is the chance to cut an album with Chucho.

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    Havana Film Festival

    Dec, 2014

    The festival of "Nuevo Cine Latino Americano" In cinemas across Havana, film fans get their fix of the latest regional productions at the annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. Films featured are typically from the Latin American and Caribbean region and include feature films, short films, documentaries and animation. There is a section of films in a category called "Made in Cuba" where one can discover the intricacies of daily Cuban life on the big screen. An array of seminars also run alongside the screenings. The festival began in 1979, with the acclaimed Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez as one of the judges that year.

    FESTIVAL WEBSITE.

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    Havana Jazz Festival

    late Dec, 2014

    2013 will be the 28th international Jazz festival. Organised by Chucho Valdés, this festival is an internationally renowned event that consistently attracts an excellent line-up of jazz musicians - both local and international. Cuba has its own famous genre of jazz, and the importance placed on music by the Cuban Government and the Cuban society means that there is an almost endless supply of new and exciting local talent on offer. Performances take place in the Casa de la Cultura Plaza, Teatro Nacional de Cuba and other venues across the city.

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    Parrandas de Remedios

    19 - 24 Dec, Annual

    The small town of Remedios is famous for its Christmas festival, called “Las Parrandas de Remedios”. The celebrations are considered the oldest in Cuba, and by those who are familiar with them, the most wild and crazy. Events include street parades with rumba percussion ensembles, music and verses, a float display and the very dramatic fireworks competition.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

    Tours will be in Remedios for the biggest night of the weeklong celebration - Dec 24.

    PARRANDAS DE REMEDIOS - see details.tips


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    Charangas de Bejucal

    24,25,26 Dec, Jan 1
    Annual

    The oldest of Havana's traditional festivals takes place at the end of every year in the small Havana provincial town of Bejucal. In the past it has involved a performance from Los Tambores de Bejucal (a typical Cuban percussion band of high International prestige), and festivities formed by a traditional rivalry between two conga groups. The Ceibistas (members of the Ceiba de Plata group, characterised by the colour blue and a scorpion as their symbol) compete with the Espinistas (Members of the Espina de Oro, who wear red and have a rooster as their symbol), to see who can play the loudest drums and construct the most impressive float.

    Recently however, according to our travellers and guides who have been to the festival (in 2010 and 2011), this event has deteriorated into a simple street party, which is perhpas not worth the 50min drive from Havana.

    CHARANGAS DE BEJUCAL FESTIVAL - see details.

    This event coincides with the following tours:

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    New Years Eve in Havana

    31 Dec - Annual

    The biggest New Year's Eve party in Havana is a special dinner/show put on at the impressive Cathedral Plaza in Old Havana. The only restaurant in the Square called El Patio brings all their tables outdoors and caters for 300 diners. Wine, champagne, beers and all sorts of spirits, including the famous Habana Club rum, are served plentifully and the food is a assortment of Cuban recipes. A purpose built stage hosts a spectacular Tropicana style outdoor music and dance show

    You can see this event on the following tours:

    This celebration is very popular and is recommended by all our staff if you are in Havana.
    STAFF TIP: purchase your tickets early as they sell out!!!!
    tips

    If you are on a different tour, but you will be in Havana on the night of Dec 31 you can join with some of our other travellers and go to the party. The cost of the dinner (including drinks and show) is expected to be about US$150. Once the event details are finalised, we will contact you with an offer to advance purchase tickets through us.

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