Whenever I’m asked to do a go-to guide on the best ways to enjoy Havana’s cultural scene, my first thought is: “I can’t choose – just go out there and explore!”. My initial, helpless advice boils down to the fact that Havana is ideal for travelers in search for lesser known, off-the-beaten-track places. In Cuba’s capital, there are no hidden clubs or elite-styled galleries. Art lies in plain sight here, especially in houses turned galleries in quirky neighborhoods.But, if you’re looking for a hint, a preview, a quick glimpse into this 500-year-old city and its cultural expressions, read on for the must-go places and our list of Havana’s quirkiest cultural hot spots.
When most people think of Cuba they think of classic cars, Che, beaches and maybe even cocktails. Few people think of museums. What they don’t know is that the nation’s capital, Havana, is a haven for culture-vultures, history fanatics and art aficionados.
Looking for an authentic insight into Cuban culture? Look no further than Romerias de Mayo festival. This eclectic arts and culture celebration takes place every May (usually 3rd-8th) in Holguín, a charming city set in the lush, beautiful and surprisingly little-visited East of the island.
If you’re thinking of finally taking the plunge and booking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Cuba, then you may want to consider penciling Costa Rica into your plans. In recent years, twin-country holidays have been trending amongst globetrotters, as travelers seek to get the most out of the time and money they’ve invested in journeying halfway across the world. Those looking to be seduced by the rich colours and history of revolutionary Cuba will find that Costa Rica’s verdant jungles and volcanic hot springs can offer the perfect contrast, throwing the Caribbean’s largest island into new and exciting contexts. A bio-diverse Central American treasure and a communist Caribbean time-capsule, Costa Rica and Cuba complement each other through their cultural and geographical diversity. And they’re conveniently close too – lying just across the stretch of the glittering Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is only 2h20 mins away from Cuba’s vibrant capital!
Carnival season may be coming to a close across much of the world, but in Cuba the party hasn’t even begun.
In most Roman Catholic countries, Carnival is a pre-Lenten festival; a time of excess before 40 days of austerity. But in typical Cuban style, things on the island are a little different, with celebrations taking place throughout the summer in various towns and cities. Lucky for you, that leaves plenty of time to organise your Carnival trip.
With the motto leer es crecer (reading is growing), Cuba’s International Book Fair takes place every February. The Cuban publishing industry’s largest annual event transforms the usually-deserted La Cabaña fortress into a huge book market, selling new and old titles of all genres. Attracting publishing companies, book-lovers and curious tourists alike, the fair also includes book presentations, award ceremonies and musical concerts at night. Havana hosts the event for 10 days before it travels to other cities across the island, ending four months later and almost 500-miles away in Santiago de Cuba.
Here we answer all your questions about one of the book-loving island's biggest cultural events.