Still recovering from the damages Irma left behind, this October Cuba renews its cultural calendar putting song and music as the best remedy to lift heart and soul after the catastrophe. So much so, that the line-up of activities is full to the brim, and that goes without even mentioning regular performances resumed at popular nightlife hotspots like Casas de la Musica and jazz venues. Events are as varied in nature as they are rich in culture, with something for all tastes, from Latin American rock to guaguanco performances by the island’s most famous rumba group to a festival celebrating all things Cuban and a new contemporary dance production by prestigious Cuban choreographer Litz Alfonso. It’s all listed here, with every detail you’ll need to attend any of the following events:
Patria Grande Music Festival (22nd September to 5th October)
The fourth edition of a mega-festival celebrating Latin American and Caribbean music with an emphasis on rock groups will take place in Havana this month, with a special homage to Che Guevara. Various concerts will be held at locations that include La Madriguera and Pabellon Cuba, both in the Vedado municipality. Uniting a variety of Latin American bands celebrating urban music, alternative music and rock, the last concerts will take place on 5th October at Pabellon Cuba. Things will kick off at 6 p.m. with performances by Pashpak (a heavey metal band from El Salvador) and Los Revueltas (a pop rock group from Mexico).
Los Munequitos de Matanzas on nationwide tour (7th to 22nd October)
A true feast for all the senses, Cuba´s most famous and most prestigious folkloric rumba group will be touring the island this month, to the delight of locals and tourists alike. After touring Germany and Japan in June and September, they´re back on native land to regale their hometown folks with the music and dancing they love from birth. This will be a series of performances in every sense of the word, with live music and live dancing from the true guaganco experts in traditional costumes.
On 7th and 8th October they´ll be at the La Marina neighbourhood, about 100 km east of Havana, in their hometown of Matanzas. This is where they will indulge in a mega birthday celebration at Bar El Gallo, where they were born under the name of Guaguanco Matancero.
On Tuesday 10th October, they´ll be in Bayamo, the following day on 11th October they´ll take part in a workshop with students from Santiago de Cuba´s School of Arts before performing there on Thursday 12th October at Teatro Marti.
They´ll be in Camaguey on Saturday 14th October, performing at Teatro Principal de Camaguey. Then on Sunday 15th they´ll perform at Ciego de Avila´s Teatro Principal before heading to Santa Clara for a performance on 17th October at the La Caridad theatre. On 18th October, they´ll head to Cienfuegos to perform at the illustrious Teatro Terry.
After a two-day break they´ll go back to the stage in Havana on 20th October to celebrate the Day of National Culture, performing in the gardens of the National Institute of Cuban Music (Instituto Nacional Cubano de la Musica). The next day, on 21st October, Los Munequitos de Matanzas will offer a concert at the Sala Avellaneda of the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, also in Havana before heading for the town of Guines, in the Mayabeque province, where they will offer a show paying homage to the great “Tata Guines” (Aristides Soto), a local music legend. This last performance on 22nd October wraps things up for the annual tour of a company that started up as street performers and is now celebrating 65 years since its foundation.
Onile celebrates National Culture Day In Las Tunas (10th to 20th October)
A folkloric rumba group from Las Tunas, Onilé, celebrates Cuba’s National Day of Culture with a special new production. Looking at the African roots and the journey African slaves made before finally settling in the island with a show called “La Gran Travesia” (The Great Journey), this musical and theatrical performance will take audiences on a travelling journey back in time to the times of slavery to the present day.
Scenic Arts season returns to Villa Clara (10th to 20th October)
The ninth edition of Villa Clara’s “Temporada de las Artes Escenicas” is back to charm theatregoers in this part of Cuba with a wide variety of productions that range from puppetry to mime, humorous pieces, dance acts and more.
Breaking all language barriers is Guinol de Remedios, a puppetry group with over 50 years of history that delights children and adults alike with its life-size puppets, masks and dolls. There’s also the Guinol de Santa Clara, another puppet group celebrating 55 years of existence and presenting an array of delightful shows. Meanwhile Oche and Danza del Alma will enchant with their seamlessly put-together dance numbers on Thursday 19th October at 2 p.m. in the Centro de Desarrollo de la Danza y el Teatro.
Grupo Alanimo will present their circus show on 17th October at 2 p.m. at the Sala Margarita Casallas and later that day, dance company Baila Cuba will perform their “De Cuba Soy” production at 9 p.m. at the prestigious Teatro La Caridad.
Guinol de Remedios will perform their tale twist “La otra Caperucita” (The Other Red Riding Hood) on 18th October at 2 p.m. in Sala Margarita Casallas and “De Caramelo” (Candy flavoured) on 19th October at 10 a.m. at the “Casa de los Abuelos” on San Cristobal street.
Boris Lurie in Havana (10th October - January 2018)
Havana’s National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) will launch a very special exhibition this October with the arrival of a selection of works by U.S. artist, Boris Lurie (1924 – 2008). This anthological exhibition by one of the founders of the NoArt movement includes a total of 95 pieces spanning Lurie’s different influences and tendencies across his fruitful career. The first time his work travels to Latin America, this first exhibition in Havana, promoted by the Boris Lurie Art Foundation will be the launching platform from which to propel it to other nations in the continent.
Considered by critics an incarnation of vanguardism for his political stance and aesthetical style, Lurie stepped away from the Pop Art of the times and condemned it for being of marketing monstrosity that lacked social and political value. Together with other Pop Art detractors he was part of the NoArt movement which delved on topics such as racism, sexism, imperialism and nuclear weapons. His works will be exhibited in Cuba (a nation he deeply admired) for four months, so plenty of time to catch it before it’s bound for other Latin American countries.
Mozart Habana Festival (21st to 28th October)
Classical music returns to the capital and on this occasion to celebrate the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A week-long festival taking over Havana’s halls and concert venues, Mozart’s finest pieces will be performed by a variety of talented local music groups. As part of the festival there’ll be exhibitions, master classes and most of all, a long list of concerts. Main concert venues include the Oratorio San Felipe Neri, the Basilica Menor of the San Francisco de Asis Convent, the Lyceum Mozartiano de La Habana, the Cathedral of Havana, the Sala Ignacio Cervantes at Teatro Marti and the Iglesia de Paula church. Dates and times have not been published online yet so if you’re interested in attending one of these classic music performances you’re best heading to either of the above-mentioned theatres and concert halls to check their programme, usually listed on the entrance or ticket office (from which you’ll also be able to obtain tickets).
Fiesta de la Cubania in Bayamo (17th to 20th October)
A festival celebrating all things Cuban will be taking place in a city famous for its strong patriotic sense and great respect for its roots. Bayamo is one of the oldest (older than both Havana and Santiago) and most traditional of Cuban cities, with a deeply-rooted sense of identity and a great pride in being the place that kick-started the fight when it came to the liberation of Cuba from the Spanish colony.
Therefore, it is quite apt that a festival celebrating “cubania” (“cubanity”) is hosted at this elegant and timeless city, where horse carts outnumber vehicles by far. This year´s Fiesta de la Cubana will be dedicated to “Masonry and its meaning in the creation of Cuban nationality” while celebrating the 180th anniversary of the birth of Juan Clemente Zenea, a Bayamese writer recognised for having reintroduced Romanticism to Cuban literature and marking a new age in Hispano-American poetry.
During the festival Bayamo´s streets will be dressed in the colours of the national flag, with numerous art exhibitions, artisan craft shops, music concerts, theatre performances, dance productions and traditional culinary delights. If there ever was a great time to be in Bayamo to appreciate how much love and devotion they have for their nation, it will most certainly be this month, from 17th to 20th October.
Fuerza y Compas – 25 years on stage (19th to 22nd October)
Cuban dance company “Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba” (LADC) has double reason to celebrate this month. On one hand they´re turning 25-years-old and on the other Cuba celebrates its National Culture Day on 20th October, so they have decided to mark both occasions by taking to the stage with a celebratory performance scheduled for 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd October at the Teatro Nacional de Cuba.
The production, titled “Fuerza y Compas” (Strength and Harmony) earned the company a seasonal spot at the New Victory Theatre in Broadway, being the first Cuban dance company to accomplish such prestige. But that´s not all, back in 2015, the then First Lady, Michelle Obama gifted the company founder, Lizt Alfonso, with the International Spotlight Award for the Arts and Humanities. So, now you know this is no ordinary dance show, this is one you can´t afford to miss if in Havana later this month!
Fusing elements of flamenco, contemporary dance, classical ballet, folklore and different popular dances, this is one company that knows how to put on unprecedented shows. It´s the only Cuban dance company to ever have performed at the Latin Grammy and it seduced the world with its fresh originality when it featured in Enrique Iglesias´ music video for the song “Bailando”.
Havana Theatre Festival (20th to 27th October)
Havana wants to express itself this month, on the open-air, without boundaries or walls, but also within them. This is why the celebration of the Havana Theatre Festival (Festival de Teatro de La Habana) this October takes to streets and squares of the city as well as to indoor venues. A selection of the most recent and relevant of the contemporary theatre scene, nationally and internationally, will be presented to the public in open squares and theatres, alongside workshops, seminars and conferences. Participating theatres are the Teatro Mella and Teatro Miramar. As for the street performances, we´ll keep you updated as soon as they release further details. There´ll be something for ages, from the recreation of classical children´s tales, to mime acts and so much more.
Fiesta de la Cultura Iberoamericana 2017 in Holguin (24th to 30th October)
A biennial festivity will be taking over the streets and parks of Holguin this late October as the Fiesta de la Cultura Iberoamericana (Hispano-American Culture Party) kicks off to give way to a series of open-air concerts, exhibitions, workshops and traditional parties. All of Hispano-America is invited with various performers coming to participate in this festival that pays homage to the twining of both worlds: Europe and America. With events that centre around the island´s Spanish roots as well as American influences, this year´s theme will be: Cuban thinking, regional cultures, the environment and sustainable development, with the promotion of culture.
If you happen to be enjoying the emerald waters of Guardalavaca from a pampering all-inclusive beach resort this late October; it´s a great time to hop to Holguin´s city centre and check this massive local party out!