Guide to Cuban Carnivals

Guide to Cuban Carnivals
Guide to Cuban Carnivals
photo: Guide to Cuban Carnivals
photo: Guide to Cuban Carnivals

Cuba attracts tourists not only with pristine tropical nature, white beaches and blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, but also with colorful carnivals, rhythms of incendiary salsa.

If you want to plunge into the enchanting world of carnivals, then it is better to go to Cuba in the summer. Then you can not only enjoy the delights of Liberty Island, but also become a part of the annual carnival with its costumed processions, dances, musical performances and a river of tart Cuban rum.

It is believed that this tradition was introduced to Cuba by African slaves, when they were allowed to take a few days off from work. They got together, staged processions, danced the Cuban Yoruba to the accompaniment of drums. This was how the end of the harvest of sugarcane from the plantations was celebrated.

Carnivals in Cuba have been held since 1833. Then all the Cuban aristocracy arrived in their decorated carriages to Havana. All the participants of the carnival dressed up in bright costumes, made masks, sang, drank and got together in a dance. Carnivals have become a national holiday when everyone can enjoy the beauty of the city, strewn with streamers, confetti and tropical flowers.

The significance of the carnival has changed from year to year. In the twentieth century, it was largely an initiative of America, which at that time economically controlled Cuba. That is why then the carros (open platforms) participating in the procession served as billboards for commercial companies in the United States.

But in 1959, after the victory of the Revolution, carnivals became a symbol of freedom and independence of the Cuban people from Western oppression. Therefore, the Cuban government began to actively fund these activities.

There was also a period when carnivals were not held in Cuba at all. It was from 1990 to 2004, when the country's leader, Fidel Castro, said that the country was in a difficult economic situation and the state could not spend such a budget on festivities.

The carnival period in Cuba begins with the Fiesta del Fuego, which takes place from July 3 to 9 in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Here, from 22 to 26 July, one of the main events of the country is held - a large carnival dedicated to Saint James, the patron saint of the city.

The city of Santiago de Cuba is located 900 kilometers from the capital, but this does not make it provincial. After all, it is here that the brightest and most memorable carnivals take place. Despite the fact that usually the height of the carnival festivities falls on the end of July, in August you can also attend folk festivals and join the youth dancing rumba and saltsa to live music. For local residents, the carnival is a way to escape from everyday work and have noisy fun, remember the history of their ancestors and just spend time with their family.

Children's carnivals are also held in Santiago de Cuba, in which children from 4 to 13 years old and their parents participate. Schools from different parts of the city are seriously preparing and present a new program every year with pre-prepared costumes and decorations.

While in Santiago de Cuba, do not forget to visit the Carnival Museum on Calle Heredia, which displays over 300 exhibits related to the history of the origins of Cuba's carnivals.

Starting from the second week of August, a carnival is held in the capital of Cuba, Havana. In addition to him, in the nearby cities - Holguin and Cienfuegos - there are also festive processions with dancing until you drop and endless fun.

The venue for the carnival in the capital is the Malecon embankment, which connects the new districts of the city (Vedado and Miramar) with old Havana. Large-scale processions and festive events of the city often take place on the embankment. Tourists and locals alike love to flock here to listen to traditional Cuban music blending with contemporary pop culture and watch the huge masked carnival figures march along.

A true Cuban doesn't need a reason to dance and have fun right in the middle of the street. But if you still want to become a part of something large-scale, colorful and memorable, you should definitely visit the Cuban Carnival at least once with its invariable companions - incendiary dances, music, fantastic costumes, rum and fireworks!