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The Fire Festival or Caribbean Festival
On an annual basis, in the month of July Santiago de Cuba dresses in colors when celebrating the Caribbean Festival or the Fire Festival as it is also known.
This festivity is considered the most colorful and cheerful of all the towns in the region and Santiago is not chosen as the protagonist, it is the balcony that overlooks the Caribbean.
Beyond any representation prepared for tourists, this celebration constitutes an authentic sample of the Caribbean culture. Beyond geographical location or language, joy and brotherhood can almost be touched, they seek the exchange of artists in all cultural manifestations and work styles and share the warmth, life, culture.
Origin of the Caribbean Festival or Fire Festival
The Fire Festival arose in April 1981, at that time it was still the First Festival of Performing Arts of Caribbean Origin, but from the beginning it had the firm purpose of having the presence of personalities from the region and promoting not only the exchange cultural but also debate on various topics.
It soon arrived at Guantánamo from Santiago de Cuba because the two cities and regions are linked by geography and culture. From the sub-headquarters in the first meetings, Guantánamo quickly assumed the shared headquarters of the Fiestas del Fuego.
A year later, in 1982, the city of Santiago already had an important institution: the Casa del Caribe. From there, research and cultural exchanges that are the same as those convened by the Caribbean Festival would be promoted.
Why Fire Festival?
Fire is one of the elements associated with all African cultures and is part of the identity of the peoples of the Caribbean. African slaves who rebelled against their masters used it in their fight for freedom.
Features and offers of La Fiesta del Fuego
During the Fire Festival, each year it is dedicated to a country or group of countries in the region and all the activities privilege the participation of the guest country, you can enjoy music, dance and the most authentic traditions of the region.
For almost a week you can enjoy the festivities, the ceremonies of African religions, the troupes, congas and the percussion notes, almost always in open spaces throughout the city.
The black race can be evidenced as one of the ethnic characteristics of the area. The dancers dressed in intense colors follow the rhythm of the drum.
They are painted in the Yoruba way with faces painted as in the tribes of their grandparents. Not everything is touch and dance, there are also shows, exhibitions and talks about the main artists and customs of the guest country. In addition, several artists are chosen to represent some discipline, within the framework of samples and talks on the subject.
Workshops are held on Caribbean religions, on Cultural Heritage and identity and diversity of the peoples of the area, and meetings of poets, social communicators and oral narrators. The awaited International Colloquium the Caribbean that unites us arrives and the delivery of the Casa del Caribe International Prize.
During this time, intellectuals, academics, researchers and artistic groups meet, all representatives of the popular cultures of the region.
What you can’t miss from the Fire Festival
The snake parade
The Festival of Fire opens with the renowned Serpent Parade. It is an immense procession of the participants in the event, where they exchange for the first time, they introduce themselves and each one carries their flag to identify themselves and wear their traditional clothes.
The multicolored snake runs from the Plaza de Marte to the Céspedes Park and the people from Santiago come together, coiling after the conga.
Near the Copper, in the Cerro del Cardenillo in El Cobre, is the monument to the maroon. There, every year during La Fiesta del Fuego or Festival del Caribe the representation of the rebellion is honored.
It is sung and invoked, believers of African religions come with their necklaces and garments. Witnesses are present, the environment declared a World Heritage Site, as well as the church and the abandoned copper mine.
The Caribbean Festival closes with the burning of the devil, a party awaited after several days of intense work and fun and because it constitutes a moment of important tradition.
In the Alameda, next to the bay, the participants say goodbye and a great devil, a symbol of all evil, is set on fire and, by burning, leaves the way ready for the next meeting. Many people throw papers written with the bad things they don’t want more in their lives into the fire.
Personalities who have participated in the Caribbean Festival or Fire Festival
Luiz Suadóaz (Cuba)
Argeliers León (Cuba)
George Lamming (famous Barbadian writer)
Eraclio Zepeda (poet and narrator)
Juan Bosh (Dominican Republic)
Rafael Murillo (Honduras)
Thiago de Mello (poet from Brazil)
Argeliers León (Cuba)
Guillermo Orozco (Cuba)
Marta Jean Claude (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
Miguel Barnet (Cuba)
Roberto Fernández Retamar (Cuba)
Víctor Villegas (Dominican Republic)
Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)
Barry Chevannes and Rex Nettleford (Jamaica)
Doudou Diáne (Senegalese sociologist)
Geraldine Chapló (California)
Where can I stay in Santiago de Cuba during the Fire Festival?
Santiago de Cuba has a varied offer of accommodation. But if what you are looking for is proximity to all the activities, we suggest the Hotel Casagranda, in front of the Céspedes Park, the core of the main activities of the event.
You can also choose the Meliá Santiago, in the most elegant area of the city and where the Casa del Caribe is very close. Another recommended place is the Balcón del Caribe, a small but very quiet accommodation in one of the elevations that surround the coastline.
Finally there are the offers for private house rentals throughout Santiago, but for the occasion in the city center. Comfortable, economic and with the closeness of the members of each home that will provide you with a pleasant stay.
While passing through Santiago de Cuba during the month of July, be sure to participate in the Caribbean Festival or Fire Festival, a moment where music, dance and color merge to make way for the most indigenous culture in the region.