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Cuba Carnivals, a cultural treasure of the nation.
Every year Cubans await these popular festivities where joy, colorful and can be socialized to the fullest. Carnivals are spaces where thousands of people gather for a single purpose, to have fun.
Some elements are common from town to town and these are the conga, the floats and troupes and of course the dance and the beer mug.
They are annual celebrations in each city and town of the country, each with its own characteristics according to the region, but with a common origin that comes from colonization and the slave regime.
In Havana they occur in the month of August, a hot month that encourages people to go out in sports clothes and there is an atmosphere of joy, dance, enthusiasm and many colors.
In Santiago de Cuba, where the most popular carnivals in the country take place are in July. During the holidays, the Chinese bugle is an element of each day.
Santiago´s Carnivals, an explosion of joy
Santiago’s carnival is the best in all of Cuba. This is how thousands of people who come to the hot land have cataloged it, in the ten days it takes to enjoy the troupes originating from French tombs and African councils.
It is characterized by its color, by its people, by the need not to stop dancing. These days people wake up on the street sharing the beer and food they buy at street stalls.
The congas go up and down the steep streets of the city, the drums, the fifth, the bell and the Chinese cornet can be distinguished, a distinctive instrument of the Santiago conga.
The most popular are those of San Pedrito, San Agustín, Paso Franco, Alto Pino, El Guayabito and in particular, Los Hoyos, the most outstanding of all.
The walks are another important manifestation in the carnivals. The costumes, the color and the uniformity of the choreography give an incomparable spectacle. Among those that stand out are La Placita, La Textilera, Heredia and Sueño.
Due to their roots, tradition and the nuance that their people bring to it, the carnivals of Santiago de Cuba are considered the best in all of Cuba, an explosion of color, contagious rhythms, melodies and dances.
A time to forget about worries and get together with friends and family, releasing tensions with dance and music.
When is the Santiago de Cuba Carnival?
The Carnival of Santiago de Cuba is always in the month of July, without a fixed date, but generally 10 days that include the 26th, a historic day for the entire country because the anniversary of the Attack on the Moncada barracks is remembered.
Where is the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba?
Carnival occupies the entire city with different areas prepared for it. The most popular are Trocha and Cristina, Sueño, Santa Rita and Ferreiro.
A centennial party
The Carnival of Santiago de Cuba originally dates back to the 17th century, it evolved from festivals that took place at that time known as Mamarrachos, winter and summer festivities to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the season prior to Lent.
The Winter Carnival was called the “Carnival for White Cubans.” The Summer Carnival was known as the “Lower Class Carnival”, as it coincided with a rest period for those who worked in the fields.
These celebrations ceased to exist celebrations became extinct, but the music, its main protagonist was always there. Over the years it went from being a traditional festival to a popular one and it has turned out to be what we enjoy today: a mixture of traditions, rhythm and color.
On your way through Santiago de Cuba during the month of July, be sure to check with your own eyes what a real party is.
The Havana carnival within the carnivals of the entire island.
Another very popular carnival in Cuba are those in Havana. Its own characteristics make this a unique event in which, for example, it is completely dedicated to children.
Among the most demanded characters to the so-called Muñecones and the lamplighters, together with the tasty Cuban food and the drink that is not lacking, especially cold beer.
The most traditional groups are La Jardinera, the Giraldilla de La Habana, the Guaracheros de Regla, Los Marqueses de Atares and El Alacrán.
Origin of the Havana Carnival.
Carnivals are one of the oldest traditions in the country, with roots in centuries past during Corpus Christi and Epiphany Day celebrations, when black slaves organized collective dances and marches.
They were authorized by their Spanish masters and once a year African slaves could enjoy their music, dance and song. In addition, every January 6 or Three Kings Day they were allowed to reproduce the songs and dances of their native lands.
The dates and the way of celebration varied with the centuries and it became a festival of and for the people. It is defined by salsa music and the color of the troupes that year after year give away original choreography and costumes.
Many of these groups already prepare the little ones so that in the future they will be the defenders of the carnival.
Where are the parades of the Havana Carnivals held?
Carnival parades take place on El Malecón in Havana, mainly from the La Piragua area to Calle Marina.
General recommendations for going to carnival
Carnivals are inevitable traditional festivals and your visit may coincide with them. We suggest get used to it, the bustle and the number of people you did not expect to see will end in a few days.
Something good they bring is that with the holidays come better offers and prices without the need to book. Variety of food wherever you go, so you won’t have to travel far to buy.
Be careful with personal items. The crowd encourages you to lose them or to be robbed, go out with only what is necessary and do not wear clothes or important documents.
Don’t forget the sun. The summer months are unforgiving and right in them are the carnivals. Choose a cooler and more comfortable time to go.
Take advantage of the sunset time which is much calmer. Although spaces are usually more crowded at night, the weather is better.
Wear appropriate shoes, to walk and dance without discomfort and that clothing is light and serves to sit anywhere. If you don’t like the hustle and bustle, you can look for spaces farther away.
I hope you choose to visit the island during carnivals. Whether in Havana or Santiago de Cuba, you will be the protagonist of the best parties in the entire country.