5 great festivals in Havana

Havana, photo by Barbara Walsh

Havana is the center of Cuba’s cultural life as well as nightlife, that much is for sure. This beautiful colonial city is one of the liveliest places on the planet, where everyone, from young to old, knows how to have fun. One of the best ways to taste the flavor of local life is to go to Havana during a festival and jump right in the middle of the events. From art and film festivals to festivals celebrating Caribbean culture, cigars, and various elemnts of Cuban heritage, there is a lot to keep you busy in Havana’s event schedule. So we’ve compiled a list of 5 great festivals in Havana, check them to see if there’s one happening during your trip to Cuba!

Havana International Jazz Festival

Although salsa is arguably the national music and dance of Cuba, jazz also has many followers and fans in Havana, and the International Jazz Festival that takes place in December, and has been held every year since the 70′s. The festival was established by Bobby Carcassaes and other famous Cuban jazz musicians, and it soon gained popularity on an international scale. This event is  great way to discover Cuban jazz music and to revisit some of the greatest jazz acts in the world.

International Havana Ballet Festival

Havana, photo by Jasper van der Meij

The International Havana Ballet Festival is over 40 years old, which makes it one of the oldest ballet festivals in the world, and a very prestigious one at that. It was established by the Cuban National Ballet together with several government cultural agencies. This is one of the most important events on the Cuban cultural scene, and each festival has a certain theme. The participants are not limited to the Cuban National Ballet, as ballet companies from all around the world participate in the event.

Habanos Cigar Festival

Since cigars are one of the most iconic products of Cuba as well as a one of the country’s chief exports. It only makes sense that Cuban cigars should be celebrated through a festival! Each year in February, the Habanos Cigar Festival takes place in Havana for five days in which you can tour cigar factories, visit cigar fairs, attend seminars on the manufacture and history of cigars and and even go to cigar tastings . This even is in equal measures educational and fun, and definitely one of the greatest festivals in Havana.

Havana International Film Festival

Havana, photo by Tony Hisgett

If you are tired of blockbuster Hollywood movies and you yearn from some variety, then the Havana International Film Festival will give you a much-needed dose of foreign films. The festival focuses on promoting Spanish-language films and awards approximately 40 awards for various film categories.

Havana Carnival

The beginning of the Lent period is an occasion for huge parties in many countries, and while the Rio carnival is probably the most well carnival of the sort, the Havana Carnival is colorful and great fun too. There are parades, floats, dancers and music in front of the Capitol and all along the Malecon, with many of the locals and tourists joining in on the fun.


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