Stuck in Havana with no clue as what to do tonight or how to fill your evenings over the space of the next few days? Here I come to the rescue with a full list of the very best in Havana’s nighttime scene and daily cultural events taking place this week. Read on to find out more about where to dance, where to listen to live jamming sessions and where to admire the finest art pieces and latest exhibits.
Follow where the music leads
If you long for lively nights that give way into fun dancing times, then you have two sizzling hot shows to choose from – but don’t feel forced to make such a hard choice, the best bit is that due to their timing you can attend both and follow one with the other!
What’s on tonight
To warm up the evening head to Café Cantante Mi Habana (close to the Revolution Square) and make sure to get there in time for the 5 p.m. performance put on by Qva Libre, one of the hottest fusion groups in Cuba right now. With catchy music that will make you sway (or at the very least tap your feet) Qva Libre brings timba-infused salsa rhythms to the table with a little bit of funk-rock and pop.
Now that your senses have been inundated with Cuban rhythms it’s time to head to the next venue to put it all in practice and throw your best salsa dancing moves. At 11 p.m. Jose Luis Cortes y NG La Banda will be performing at Casa de la Musica in Centro Habana. Alternatively, Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son will be performing at the same town at the Casa de la Musica in Miramar. But I’d personally favour attending the former, of course that’s down to personal taste but the talented Jose Luis Cortes is an outstanding Cuban musician that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you miss him tonight then you have an opportunity at catching him again at the El Diablo Tun Tun, at the same time in the same place (El Diablo Tun Tun is located on the upper floor of Miramar’s Casa de la Musica).
Another day brings another host of possibilities. If you like traditional music and son tunes the likes of the Buena Vista Social Club then you shouldn’t miss the performance of Ray Fernandez at El Diablo Tun Tun in Miramar, kicking off at 5 p.m. as the ideal warm-up music session to treat your ears to Cuba’s melodic and nostalgic tunes before cranking it up a notch with some intensive salsa dancing.
Alternatively you could dive straight into salsa from early on and enjoy a live performance by Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco, a popular salsa band that will be playing from 5 p.m. at Miramar’s Casa de la Musica.
From there you won’t have to move around to continue listening to Cuba’s fusion salsa tunes as Alexander Abreu y Havana D’ Primera will be closing the night’s events with yet another feet-tapping performance starting at 11 p.m.
If in the mood to listen to some folkloric Afro-Cuban rhythms then you should head Jelengue del Areito at 5 p.m. to see the Rumberos de Cuba in action.
You could then finish the night off with more salsa dancing (if you’ve not exhausted yourself the previous night) you can catch another opportunity to see Jose Luis Cortes y NG La Banda performing live for another night at the Casa de la Musica in Miramar.
Or, you could head to a more laidback concert performance by one of Cuba’s most loved troubadors. The charismatic, multi-talented singer and musician, Kelvis Ochoa will be performing at the Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht at 11 p.m. An event almost exclusively attended by locals this will be your cheapest ticket for the night, but the price certainly doesn’t compromise on the top quality music you’ll be listening to. He is famous for having co-composed the original soundtrack for the Cuban film, Habana Blues.
If you want to catch a glimpse of Havana’s gay nightlife scene then Saturday night brings the perfect opportunity to do so as Proyecto Divino kicks off at 11 p.m. in Café Cantante Mi Habana.
Saturday is also when Havana’s jazz scene comes to life as the popular Jazz Café facing Malecon hosts accomplished jazzist Cesar Lopez, a saxophonist and composer with his band, Habana Ensemble.
If you’re at all into electronic music then Saturday 15th August is your ticket to enjoy the music by the Fresa y Chocolate band.
But if salsa is what your body and soul crave then you simply shouldn’t miss the live concert by Paulo FG y Su Elite, performing at 11 p.m. at Casa de la Musica in Miramar.
There’s more jazz in store tonight if you fancy it as Aldo Lopez-Gavilan performs at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano at 10 p.m.
Alternatively, head to Casa de la Musica in Centro Habana to listen to the infectious salsa rhythms of Lazaro Valdes and Bamboleo at 5 p.m.
Or, if in the mood to listen to some Afro-Cuban guaganco, the Casa de la Musica in Centro Habana is the place to hit at 5 p.m to catch a performance from Yoruba Andabo.
After the weekend it goes a little quite as the city recovers from the weekend’s party mode. But still there are places to go and dance if your body can still take some more shaking. Your best bet for Monday night is Sur Caribe, an iconic band from Santiago de Cuba, famous for its conga tunes. They’ll be performing at the Casa de la Musica in Miramar at 11 p.m.
Art – Exhibitions and Fairs
Like we announced on our previous edition, this week the summer exhibition fair Arte en La Rampa continues being hosted at Pabellon Cuba in Vedado and a variety of activities for audiences of all ages continue to be organised up until its closing date on 13th September.
But something very special you’ll get to see this week is a sneak preview into the interior refurbishment of the grand Capitolio building. It still hasn’t completely opened to the public yet as some work is still being carried out, but for those impatient to see what’s going on inside (especially foreign visitors who might not return to Havana for the official opening) there is a new completely FREE tour granting you exclusive access. Exclusive to this summer only, this special Obra Abierta tour by Rutas y Andares consists of a behind-the-scenes guided tour along the restoration project inside the Capitol. Puerto Carenas is the company behind these organised tours and you can book ahead by visiting the Office of the Historian of the City or by calling the Centro de Informacion Cultural on 7866 4035. The tours start at 9 a.m. every Thursday.
Meanwhile, former carpenter as announced last week, Alexander Arrechea will still be exhibiting his art collection entitled El Mapa del Silencio for yet another week at the Museo de Bellas Artes.
Likewise, the special exhibition consisting of photographs, billboards, ballet garments and props related to the famous ballet productions of Giselle and Carmen performed by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, continues being showcased at the Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura.
On another different note, this 14th August will see the Naïve Art Festival kick off in Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja, bringing a flurry of colour to this old colonial square. Right on the same square the Siete Miradas collection will be exhibited with works by contemporary Cuban photographers Raul Cañibano, Arien Chang. Eduardo García, Liudmila & Nelson, Carlos Otero, Leysis Quesada and Roberto Salas.
And if you want to mix the visual arts with music and dancing then Sunday is your ticket to enjoy the Festival de la Afrocubania, which will be celebrated with a special nightly show staged every day of the week until Sunday 23rd August at the Salon Rosado de la Tropical, Benny More.
For the young and the young at heart: entertainment for all the family
CIRCUBA arrives at Yara, one of Havana’s most centric and popular cinemas, to stage a series of performances taking place every Sunday at 11 a.m. until 27th August. S,o if you happen to be travelling to Cuba this week or the next, there are only two Sundays left to enjoy these fantastic circus shows before the summer season officially closes. Expect magic shows, acrobatic performances, juggling acts and clowns.
Everyone loves the circus, but little ones will especially appreciate the puppet shows staged at Teatro de Titeres, El Arca every Friday, Saturday and Sundat at 3 p.m until 30th August. Each performance tells a different classical children’s tale but with an adapted twist. You’ll find the puppet theatre at Casa Pedroso in Avenida del Puerto and Obrapia in Old Havana. This weekend they will be performing Ghost Street (La calle de los fantasmas).
If you want your children to see a kids’ fair Cuban style then La Feria de Pastosa might be worth a visit. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout August this special kids’ party is celebrated at 10 a.m. in Calle 1ra, Esquina D in the centric Vedado municipality.