Celebrating Christmas in Cuba

Posted: 31-Dec-18 07:45

For those seeking a different kind of winter break, there’s nothing quite like Cuba. Leave the snow and quiet evenings at home, and instead liven up your winter spirit with Havana’s al fresco parties, exciting Afro-Cuban cabaret shows and unforgettable family feasts.

Celebrating Christmas in Cuba

When you think of winter breaks, Cuba might not spring to mind as the “most Christmassy” of places. Christmas was outlawed here until 1998, and New Year’s Eve is more associated with the Triumph of the Revolution than the changing of the year. This makes Cuba the perfect spot for those seeking a very different holiday celebration.

Celebrating in Cuba

Traditional Cuban celebrations are all about the family. Casas particulares (homestays) are a common form of accommodation in Havana and offer travellers some insight into daily Cuban life. Take part in traditional family life with shared meals and street games – especially as the kids will be on school break at this time of year.

For those seeking a rural escape, head to Vinales or Trinidad where organic food is harvested on "fincas" (small farms). Enjoy a family party with live music incredibly delicious food, such as roasted pork, "yucca with mojo" (garlic sauce) and "congri" (rice and beans).

There’s a whole host of al fresco concerts on the streets during the holidays in Havana, so you don’t have to look far for a party. For the few weeks before the end of the year, public concerts in open-air plazas are tradition. Famous bands such as Havana de Primera, Pupi y Los que Son Son and Van Van play in the open for all to enjoy.

You won’t find an official calendar of events, but you can expect concerts Thursdays through Sundays at 9 pm at the Tribuna Antimperialista in Vedado and at central plazas in all provinces throughout the country.

New Year’s Eve

According to an article by Lonely Planet, bucketfuls of water are poured from balconies or doorways during the first few minutes of the new year, once the clock strikes midnight. These wash away bad spirits and possible misfortunes.

At the same time, travellers-to-be walk around the block with a suitcase, hoping to attract good luck.

For the Revolution’s 60th anniversary, you can expect La Piragua and Casas de la Musica in Centro Habana and Miramar to be filled with flashy concerts and partying.

For a special celebration, check out Cabaret Tropicana. Founded on December 31, 1939, it hosts an extravagant New Year’s Eve special celebration every year. The 8 pm show starts off with a violin-serenaded dinner and later continues out at Salon Bajo las Estrellas (Under the Stars) with the outstanding show "Oh La Habana". After midnight, guests receive special souvenirs before more live performances. It’s an unforgettable way to celebrate!  


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