A new month is dawning and Cuba is slowly filling its days with attractive shows, activities and events to attract locals during times of leisure and lure tourists keen to be part of the island´s cultural calendar. Most of the events to be listed in this blog post as the month progresses will take place on weekends to coincide with Cubans´ free time but some will spill into weekdays giving foreign holidaymakers a chance to enjoy performances away from peak visiting times.
It all starts with a bit of dancing (what better?) to get the month moving to the sound of classical and modern tunes in a unique amalgam of styles. Then it´s time for dramatic arts and music, lots of live music in Havana, Santiago and beyond, check it out!
Lizt Alfonso debuts “Latido” at Havana’s Gran Teatro (1 to 10 June)
To welcome the month in style and with a bit of pizazz, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, the avant-garde Cuban dance company famous for its fusion style will be presenting its latest production “Latido” at the Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso” over the first 10 days in June. A new show that tells the tale of the many styles the company has fused during its 25 years of existence, this new spectacle is split into four acts and lasts a little over an hour, a time during which the audience is sure to be spellbound and entranced by the creativity and flair of this unique dance company.
Blending elements of classical ballet with contemporary dance, “Latido” (which translates as “Heartbeat”) is an enchanting, at times delicate, at times extravagant dance routine, expertly choreographed by the company’s founder and director, Litz Alfonso. Tickets are on sale at the Gran Teatro’s ticket office and you can catch the shows from Thursdays to Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 5 p.m.
International Pantomime Event “Habana 18” at Bertolt Brecht Theatre (18 to 24 June)
Like every year for the past nine years, Havana will be hosting the 9th edition of the International Pantomime Event “Habana 18” which will take place over six days at the Complejo Cultural Bertolt Brecht in Vedado. Celebrating one of the oldest theatrical arts, the event will have international guests (with a mutual exchange of experiences planned through workshops and meetings) and will offer a series of festivities, from masquerades to street parades, the debut of special shows, tributes to famous artists and a special closing party celebrating the graduation of drama students. To find out the details of when these activities and planned shows take place head to the theatre to take a look at the billboard with festival´s detailed programme.
9th Havana Arts Festival 2018 (11 to 17 June)
The ninth annual edition of the “Festival de las Artes” in Havana kicks off in the second week of June and brings to the city a macro-event organised by ISA Universidad de las Artes de Cuba. The artistic work of this arts university’s students will be on full display during a week packed full of theatre shows, dance shows, exhibitions, concerts, monologues, competitions, conferences, master classes and workshops. Promoting the work of young art students and aiming to create a space for dialogue between writers and artists from a diversity of nations, specialising in a wide variety of artistic expressions.
If you’re in Havana this week you can download the full programme of events at isa.cult.cu/festival and find out when and where to catch some of the festival action. From 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. there will be numerous activities on offer, so more than plenty of chances to catch a dance presentation, art exhibition or concert in the city and admire flourishing local talent with the capital’s biggest annual youth cultural event. Venues include the Casa del Alba Cultural, Pabellon Cuba, Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht and Sala Hubert de Blanck.
Designed Memory Exhibition at Havana’s Fine Arts Museum (1 June to 12 August)
The capital’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) is hosting an exhibition of billboards by ICAIC (Cuba’s Institue of Cinematographic Arts) documenting Cuba’s film iconography through the years, more precisely between 1960 and 2017. A fantastic opportunity for vintage poster fans to peruse Cuban artwork to promote local films.
Boleros de Oro in Santiago de Cuba (13 to 17 June)
The 30th edition of Santiago’s “Boleros de Oro” will delight audiences with live concert coinciding with the city’s Cultural Week. Bringing quality bolero music to the people in small local communities and neighbourhoods like Chicharrones, Santa Lucia, Vista Alegre and Caney. The festival reaches the town of El Cobre on Friday 15th June and will end with a big bang on Sunday thanks to a spectacular concert from legendary Cuban band Orquesta Aragon, formed in 1939 and famous for performing some of the island’s most unforgettable songs. A great opportunity to appreciate one of the island’s most historically loved music genres as well as mingle with local crowds in Santiago. There’s no better excuse to delve deeper into the city’s culture and enjoy local talent.
Laura Pausini joins Gente de Zona for one-off Havana concert (26 June)
Making her debut in Cuba for the first time, Italian songstress and international pop star, Laura Pausini will close off the month with a spectacular concert in Havana, where she will join local Grammy-winning Cuban band Gente de Zona to perform alongside them. Although she will only be on the stage for a few minutes as an invited guest, Cuban fans are likely to ask for an encore and who knows if she will please them by singing one or more of her all-time hits. What has been confirmed by Prensa Latina is that she will perform her latest single with Gente de Zona title “Nadie ha dicho” which has already surpassed 25 million views on YouTube.
The stage will be the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva in Havana (with capacity for up to 14,000 spectators) and will be free for all to attend. Sponsored by the island´s Ministry of Culture, the National Music Institute and culture promoting enterprise, ARTEX, this mega concert will kick off Cuba´s summer season in style.
CORAHABANA Festival 2018 (26th to 30th June)
Havana is celebrating choral music with the launch of this prestigious annual event in the capital, with invited guests from four foreign nations (two vocal groups from Colombia, two from Mexico, one from Costa Rica and two from the United States). Now in its 13th edition and with the participation of all of Havana´s vocal groups as well as choral groups from Bayamo, Holguin, Cienfuegos and Pinar del Rio, this five-day event will take over a wide variety of city stages, including all concert halls in Old Havana (the Basilica Menor of the San Francisco de Asis Convent will host the opening and closing galas, while the San Felipe Neri Oratorio, the San Francisco de Paula Church and the Teatro Nacional will stage a number of performances). The participation of U.S. vocal groups adds a more universal tone to the event, with one group specialising in soul music while the other, from Philadelphia and under the direction of Thomas Joy, is famous for its more diverse international style. If you´re in Havana at the end of this month, you now have a great excuse to enjoy quality choral music from Latin America and beyond!
Cucalambeana Party in Las Tunas (28 June to 1st July)
The so-called “Jornada Cucalambeana” (named after a legendary local poet dubbed “El Cucualambe”) kicks off in Las Tunas at the end of this month to celebrate local traditions, poetry and country music known as “decimas” and “punto cubano”. Now in its 51st edition, professional singers and dancers clad in traditional clothes will take to the stage to regale a local audience with a series of performances, recitals and competitions. Vibrant, colourful and highly educational, if you´re a tourist in eastern Cuba and can make it to this provincial party in Las Tunas, my advice is to head to Casa de la Musica daily from 2 p.m. onwards, with a number of events kicking off from early afternoon and carrying on until late in the evening. I promise it will be a humbling, enchanting local party you won´t forget.
Music Calendar in Havana
Jose Luis Cortes y NG La Banda (1st June)
The best Cuban salsa takes over the Casa de la Musica de Miramar on the first day of the month with none other than Grammy-winning Jose Luis Cortes and his band, NG La Banda. The party kicks off at 11 p.m.
Alexander Abreu y Havana d’ Primera (5th June)
Also performing at Casa de la Musica de Miramar, one of the island’s most successful salsa groups in the last few years, famous for its timba beats, will be giving a stellar live performance in the afternoon, at 5 p.m.
Adalberto Alvarez y su Son (6th June)
Traditional Cuban salsa comes at the hands of a legendary group, which for decades has remained one of the island’s most popular. The intoxicating tunes of Adalberto Alvarez y su Son come to Casa de la Musica de Miramar on 6th June at 11 p.m. with the party going until 3 a.m. - a salsa-dancing session to remember.
Music Calendar in Villa Clara
Los Fakires (1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 June)
Every Friday of the month this popular music band from Villa Clara will be treating the audience to live renditions of their eclectic mix of music styles. Born in the 60s, Los Fakires have evolved throughout the years to please audiences of all tastes and all ages with a very versatile music style. Their weekly performances at Santa Clara’s El Mejunje start at 10 p.m.
To’ Mezclao (30 May to 6 June)
Spanning a wide repertoire of music styles, perfectly fusioned to create a distinctive style, To’ Mezclao is an energetic Cuban band that artfully manages to blend a melting pot of Cuban genres. Join their party at Santa Clara’s El Mejunje joint where the concert starts 10 p.m.