7 popular traditions and celebrations in Cuba

Mon 10 Apr 2017 - 0

traditions celebrations cuba infographi

The traditions and celebrations in Cuba are respected and enjoyed by tourists. If you are traveling to this country and want to know more about them in Bandcuba, Bed and Breakfast in Cuba, we will give you a tour of the most important. Their music, food and beliefs reflect the European, African and Caribbean cultural mix that makes this island shine.

Cuban Food, Music and Traditions

The Cuban celebrations are full of Caribbean flow. Music, dances and colors are characteristic of this land. They could be divided into two major groups: The official ones (linked to the dates of the revolution and their heroes). The national ones conformed by festivals, parrandas, carnivals and dances. These have a cultural and religious influence towards Catholicism and Santeria, both popular religions in Cuba.

In each one they emphasize the own Cuban rhythms like the timba, rumba, drum yuka, trova, jazz, mambo and others adapted to its culture. Others are linked to the history and culture of the regions and to their gastronomy. In all there is a high involvement of the people, since these days are holidays for workers.

Areas such as Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Havana, Guantanamo and Pinar del Rio have their own local festivals open to locals and tourists. If you want to enjoy them you have to plan your travel calendar according to your interests. For example, if you want to attend the carnival you must arrive in late June or early July when the first parades begin in Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba and Havana. Also in this month are the famous parrandas and festivals of Caribbean music.

There are also traditions linked to the Cuban lifestyle. Such as baseball matches and playoffs, domino tournaments, community parades and more that are held throughout the year. The dates when there are more Cuban celebrations are January, June, July and December.

7 popular traditions and celebrations in Cuba to know

Among all the celebrations in Cuba we could highlight 7 of them. These are ideal for those who seek to know more about the culture of this country and have fun.

1- Fire Festival in Santiago de Cuba (early July)

In early July begins one of the most anticipated festivities by locals and tourists: the Caribbean festival, better known as "La fiesta del fuego". This is a tradition that began in 1981 to pay tribute to the music, food, dances and traditions of the Caribbean’s towns.

The party lasts about 8 days and is celebrated in Santiago de Cuba, known for being cultural capital on the island. It is characterized by the presentation of dances, fireworks shows, theatrical performances, local crafts, workshops of poetry and acting, cinema cycles and much more. It is one of the most know around the world celebrations in Cuba.

If you attend you will not only have contact with the traditions in Cuba... but also with others Caribbean countries. Like Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Curacao Island and others.

The locals start planning this event since the beginning of January Because they have been the hosting this for more than 30 years.

2- Carnivals in Cuban provinces (late June and throughout July)

During these dates, Cuban carnivals are held in regions such as Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Pinar del Rio, Las Tunas, Holguin, Matanzas and Villa Clara. The characteristics are similar between regions:

  • The striking cars.
  • The conga santiaguera (typical rhythm of comparsa) with drums.
  • Typical Cuban meals.
  • Disguises.
  • Live music.

There is no fixed date for the celebration of these carnivals. They usually begin at the end of June in areas like Camagüey. The Havana Malecon is the location chosen to celebrate in the capital. You will find scenarios where people do their presentations.

During the day there are children's activities and with the schools, the kids go out in typical Caribbean costumes and perform theatrical shows. At night there are more shows, live music and parades in floats with lights.

3- Parranda of the remedies in Villa Clara (16 to 26 December)

This celebration is one of the most popular and attractive in Cuba. The best parts are the lights, the dances, the colorful costumes typical of the regions and traditional Caribbean music. It is celebrated in the province of Villa Clara, in San Juan de los Remedios. It began in 1820 as a religious tradition and today it is a mixture between the religious folkloric traditions.

There are numerous traditions linked to the parranda of remedies, among them is the interesting confrontation between areas like San Salvador and El Carmen. Both compete to win with the best cars and shows which gives an exciting touch to all events.

4- Cubadisco Festival (mid-May)

This international fair brings together singers, composers and artists. It has awards and celebration. Live music by different exponents of Caribbean music is what distinguishes this event. It is usually celebrated from 14 May.

The exhibitions, concerts and awards gather locals and foreigners to enjoy the event. They are high-level shows made for musical dissemination, presentation of talents with Cuban label, meetings between collectors and music lovers. It also brings together record players, experts and artisans of musical instruments.

5- Fiesta of the Red and Blue Majagua parties in Ciego de Ávila (early November)

A celebration that reflects the Cuban peasant culture and is in Ciego de Ávila, in the center of the island. There is a lot of music, typical dress, competitions and regional dances. It is an experience for tourists who can learn more about Cuban history. And also enjoy the parrandas and dances with maracas, bongo, keys and accordion.

There are theatrical performances and of course what gives life to this party are the clothes of the sides of Majagua Red and Blue. The inhabitants choose in which of the sides to be according to their dress. Live singers, sports competitions and craft shows are common in this celebration.

6- Benny Moré Popular Music Festival in Cienfuegos (late November)

A popular festival in Cienfuegos that celebrates the life of Benny Moré one of the most talented songwriters. Of Cuba. In this celebration stand out the comparsas, folkloric dances, Caribbean rhythms, local bands, workshops on music and art. Also karaoke and others.

The festival is usually celebrated on November 29, Benny Moré's birth date, but this can alternate with the years. It is important that if you plan to attend investigate the date and if it is going to happen the year you want to go.

7 - Festival of the Theater in Havana (End of October)

It is celebrated every year since 1980 in plazas and theaters in Havana where works of art National and international transcendence. It is an educational space to learn about the history, traditions and beliefs of the locals. There are workshops, conferences, contests, art shows and more.

The aim of the festival is to remember the movements and theatrical exponents that changed the world. The date of the celebration is not always the same, so if you want to attend check at the beginning of the year. It usually occurs in mid-August or late October.

Find out what the presentations, schedules and places to attend the ones you like. Remember that not only will there be Cuban theatrical shows. There are also countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Australia, Venezuela, Spain and Germany.

bed and breakfast havana cuba

Safety when attending celebrations in Cuba

The celebrations in Cuba are surrounded by an atmosphere of euphoria and joy and sometimes forgetting security. Although this is a country with a low level of crime, we must take certain precautions, here are some:

  • You can stay in private homes in Havana or other areas that have official regulations. It´s cheap and you will be in contact with the locals. If you are looking for a variety of private homes and safety, contact us.
  • Do not carry vital documents. Such as a passport, immunization letter or ID card from your country. Always leave the originals sheltered and carry copies in case of emergency. Also take to Cuba a copy of your credit cards to report in case of theft or loss
  • Be aware of abusive prices or non regulated services on the streets. You can haggle. Always keep and eye on the attitude of who offers the service
  • Wear light clothes. Remember that you are in a tropical climate and in the middle of the celebration the heat will be greater.
  • Protect your belongings and do not expose them too much. With so many people it will take time to detect and report a theft.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or accessories that you can lose during Comparsas and dances.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Ready to enjoy these traditions and celebrations in Cuba? Which one of you gets the most attention? Let us know in the comments or interact with us in our Twitter profile.

traditions celebrations cuba infographic

Fuente infografía


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