Through our Music Travel Blog, discover unique musical traditions, iconic festivals, and vibrant music scenes.

Welcome to our Music Travel Blog, where we explore the world through the universal language of music. This blog is dedicated to music lovers and travelers alike who seek to experience the rich tapestry of global musical traditions, iconic music festivals, and vibrant music scenes that define destinations around the globe.

Our posts uncover the stories and sounds that make each culture unique, from the energetic rhythms of Brazilian samba to the soulful melodies of American blues. Join us as we visit legendary venues, from the jazz clubs of New Orleans to the classical concert halls of Vienna, sharing insights into the music that shapes these cities’ identities.

Our adventures also take us to some of the world’s most renowned music festivals, where we experience the magic of live performances and the communal spirit of music fans from all walks of life. Whether it’s the electrifying atmosphere of Glastonbury or the traditional vibes of Morocco’s Gnawa Music Festival, our blog brings you front-row experiences from festivals that celebrate music’s diversity.

But it’s not just about the destinations but the journey. Our Music Travel Blog offers tips for traveling musicians, from packing the right gear to finding gigs abroad, and advice for music enthusiasts on creating a soundtrack for their travels. We also spotlight the musicians, artisans, and communities we meet along the way, whose stories and talents enrich our understanding of the world.

So, whether you’re planning your next musical getaway or simply dreaming of distant melodies, our Music Travel Blog is your guide to experiencing the world through music. Let’s set out together on a voyage of discovery, where every note opens the door to a new adventure.

The Symbiotic Journey of Cuban Music and Jazz: From Havana to New Orleans and New York

By Yami Cabrera (Cuban musicologist and Co-Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways

In the realm of music, few genres demonstrate the dynamic interplay of cultural influences as vividly as jazz. Celebrated for its improvisational prowess and complex harmonies, jazz did not emerge in a vacuum. Instead, it is a product of rich, interwoven musical traditions, among which Cuban music is pivotal.

As we celebrate today’s International Jazz Day, we wanted to bring you this article that briefly explores the influences of Cuban music on jazz, tracing the musical journey from Havana to New Orleans and New York, cities pivotal in the evolution of this quintessentially American genre.

The Cultural Crossroads: Havana and New Orleans

Cuban music’s infiltration into the core of jazz was intricately tied to the migration of people and their musical ideas. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Havana and New Orleans emerged as pivotal port cities—veritable cultural crossroads where the pulsating energies of the Atlantic and Caribbean converged. This period marked an era of exchange of rhythms and melodies, a musical melting pot stirred by the constant flow of ships and the diverse communities that thronged these bustling harbors.

The clave, a rhythmic pattern that is both fundamental to Cuban music and deeply rooted in African musical traditions, played a significant role in this cultural synthesis. Its distinctive syncopation, characterized by a compelling and complex sequence of beats, resonated deeply within the musical landscape of New Orleans.

As Cuban musicians settled and performed, the clave’s infectious rhythm permeated the local music scene, influencing and eventually becoming embedded in the evolving sound of early jazz. This rhythm not only enriched the musical vocabulary of New Orleans musicians but also provided a rhythmic backbone that would come to define much of the early jazz structure, bridging two rich musical cultures through shared beats and sounds.

Like in traditional Cuban genres such as son and rumba, the clave rhythm became essential to the New Orleans music scene, influencing the habanera rhythm prevalent in early jazz. This pattern introduced a new approach to musical timekeeping and phrasing, vital for developing jazz’s swing rhythms.

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Expanding Influence: From New Orleans to New York

The cultural exchange facilitated by Cuban music was dynamic and multidirectional. In New Orleans, musicians such as the legendary Louis Armstrong absorbed and adapted Cuban influences, weaving them into the fabric of American jazz. Armstrong’s use of Cuban-inspired techniques, exemplified during his trips to Havana in the 1930s, helped transform jazz into a more complex and globally resonant musical form. These trips also highlighted Havana’s role as a musical hub, reflecting its impact on local and international music scenes. As Cuban music left its mark on New Orleans, the influence continued to ripple northward, finding a new home in New York.

Louis Armstrong Playing trumpet - Havana Music Tours Website Photos

Cuban Music in New York’s Melting Pot

In New York, a city already known as a melting pot of musical styles, the impact of Cuban music became even more pronounced by the mid-20th century. The migration of Caribbean musicians, including prominent Cuban artists, introduced direct Cuban musical elements into New York’s burgeoning jazz scene. Iconic music halls and nightclubs in New York were the backdrop for these interactions, where Cuban rhythms seamlessly blended with jazz harmonies.

Artists like Machito and his Afro-Cubans played a crucial role in this musical fusion, popularizing styles like the mambo and profoundly influencing an entire generation of jazz musicians. This synthesis in New York enriched its music scene and solidified the city’s status as a critical nexus for the ongoing evolution of jazz.

Key Figures and Musical Exchange

Significant figures who navigated these musical worlds further cemented the connection between Cuban music and jazz. Mario Bauzá, a Cuban clarinetist, trumpeter, and composer, played a pivotal role in shaping Afro-Cuban jazz. His transition from Havana’s vibrant scene to New York’s big bands directly transferred Cuban influence into seminal jazz developments. Collaborating with jazz icons like Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s, they created classics such as “Manteca,” which blended intricate Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz’s spontaneity to forge the Latin jazz subgenre.

Chano Pozo, another monumental figure and Cuban percussionist, became renowned through his innovative work with Gillespie. Pozo’s integration of complex Afro-Cuban rhythms into pieces like “Manteca” and “Tin Tin Deo” revolutionized modern jazz, paving the way for further collaborations between Cuban musicians and American jazz artists.

Machito, born Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo, also significantly influenced the New York jazz scene. Leading his band, the Afro-Cubans, Machito introduced authentic Afro-Cuban sounds to a broader American audience. His performances and recordings throughout the 1940s and 1950s played a crucial role in popularizing Latin jazz, making him a central figure in the genre’s development. His collaboration with both Bauzá and musicians like Gillespie helped fuse the rhythmic complexity of Cuban music with the harmonic sophistication of jazz, enriching the musical tapestry of America.

Cuban Instruments Meet Jazz

Cuban percussion instruments like congas/tumbadoras, bongos, and timbales have deeply influenced jazz’s textural and rhythmic landscape. Congas added depth with their resonant tones and complex syncopations, while bongos introduced high-pitched, sharp sounds that enhanced rhythmic dialogue within ensembles. Timbales’ crisp, aggressive accents enriched the percussive spectrum, particularly in big band and Latin jazz settings.

These instruments were pivotal in integrating Afro-Cuban rhythms into jazz, as evidenced by the collaborations between jazz icons like Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionists like Chano Pozo. Their partnership expanded jazz’s rhythmic foundation and encouraged a broader incorporation of Latin elements into jazz, influencing generations of musicians and shaping the genre’s evolution.

Conclusion: Celebrating Cuban Music in Jazz

It is crucial to acknowledge and honor the profound impact of Cuban music on jazz as we celebrate International Jazz Day. The musical dialogues between Havana, New Orleans, and New York have enriched jazz and underscored the music’s capacity to act as a conduit for cultural exchange. Cuban music’s contributions to jazz—from rhythm and instrumentation to innovative collaborations—have indelibly shaped the genre, highlighting the power of music to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries.

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Join us in January 2025 for the Havana Jazz Festival, the biggest celebration of jazz in Cuba!

The Jazz Plaza Festival, Cuba’s most significant music event, showcases a blend of renowned and emerging artists from across the globe. Past festivals have featured legendary performances by icons like Chucho Valdés, David Weckl, Arturo O’Farril, Snarky Puppy, Aaron Goldberg, Dayramir Gonzalez, Emmet Cohen, Brenda Navarrete, Alain Pérez, Interactivo, Alejandro Delgado, Oliver Valdés, Los Van Van, Hector Quintana, Muñequitos de Matanzas, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, alongside stars like Cimafunk and the vibrant Pedrito Martinez.

We invite you to join us and experience the pinnacle of jazz in Cuba with our Havana Jazz Festival Tour. This tour is designed for the ultimate VIP experience by professional musicians and musicologists from Cuba and the United States. It is tailored for those who truly appreciate music and wish to explore it deeply.

Click here for more info about our Havana Jazz Festival Tour 2025.

Cuban Music Festivals

(Updated April 2024)
By Chaz Chambers (Musician, Tour Guide Leader, and Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways)

Cuba and its capital, Havana, have a reputation for being one of the world’s foremost musical hotspots. The city is alive with music, from the narrow alleys and balconies to the blasting speakers in cars, as well as in the hottest venues and dance floors. However, just because music is everywhere doesn’t mean we should miss out on the amazing opportunity to explore the unique music festivals in Havana.

Each music festival in Havana has its own distinct flavor and offers a variety of Cuban music with an international twist. We invite you to check out our list of the top 5 most popular music festivals in Havana, where you’re sure to find something that you’ll love and appreciate.

5. Josone Music Festival in Varadero

The Josone Music Festival is a highly anticipated event that brings together a diverse range of music genres. It is a popular festival known for its specialization in Cuban Jazz, Son, and Rumba. It features a lineup of famous Cuban orchestras like Isaac Delgado, Los Van Van, Havana D’ Primera, Alain Pérez, etc., as well as dancers and international DJs. The festival takes place in the picturesque Josone Park in the beach city of Varadero in Matanzas province.

The festival offers an immersive musical experience with two stages that host performances from the afternoon until late at night. The main stage is situated in the center of the park and is the primary location for the festival’s headline acts. The second stage, located near the lake, provides a more intimate setting for performances. Various food and beverage vendors and local artisans displaying their crafts complement the festival’s musical program. Attendees can sample a range of traditional Cuban dishes and beverages while enjoying the music.

Overall, the Josone Music Festival is a must-attend event for anyone interested in experiencing the vibrant Cuban music scene and also enjoying one of the best beaches in the world, Varadero Beach. Its unique blend of genres and lively atmosphere make it a one-of-a-kind festival that should not be missed.

More info about our festival tour here.

4. Fiesta del Tambor – Havana’s Annual Percussion Festival

Let’s dive into the exciting world of percussion! The Fiesta del Tambor is a must-attend event for all percussion enthusiasts, as it offers an exceptional opportunity to participate in the biggest drum party on the island. The festival, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, is organized by the renowned Cuban percussionist Giraldo Piloto, and it attracts some of the best percussionists, drummers, and musicians from both international and local scenes.

But that’s not all! The festival is a feast for the senses, as it is filled with Cuban music bands, various dance groups, folklore jazz compositions, and even drum masterclasses and cultural events. You will have the chance to witness and experience the richness of Cuban culture, music, and art in every aspect.

The festival celebrates drums and everything related to them. From traditional Cuban rhythms to modern beats, it has it all. The greatest percussionists and drummers will be accompanied by the best dance groups and musicians, creating an unforgettable experience for everyone who attends.

So, if you’re a percussion enthusiast or someone who loves music and culture, don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend the Fiesta del Tambor. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the world of drums and to celebrate the beauty of Cuban heritage, art, and music.

More info about our festival tour here.

3. Havana RPM – The Vinyl Music Festival in Cuba

Next on our list is the young Havana RPM Music Festival, an extraordinary celebration of vinyl music. It’s a cultural landmark event created and organized by Guampara Music, 𝐂𝐮𝐛𝐚’𝐬 𝟏𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐛𝐚𝐧 𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐞𝐥. The Festival brings together enthusiasts, artists, and storytellers from across the globe, all united by their passion for vinyl. This isn’t just any music festival – it’s a heartfelt tribute to the timeless allure of vinyl.

Over the course of two days, the event gathers a community of vinyl collectors, music enthusiasts, and those curious about the world of records. You’ll have the chance to attend thought-provoking discussions on the evolution of discography in Cuba, the unique role of vinyl in DJ culture, and the empowering connection between women and vinyl.

You’ll also get to explore captivating exhibitions featuring sound-inspired posters by artists like Pepe Menéndez, and a marketplace full of vinyl, equipment, accessories, and crafts. This is your chance to find that rare gem of a record or appreciate the intersection of visual art and music.

The Havana RPM is all about enjoying the exciting world of vinyl records, celebrating vinyl music and the tradition of record collecting, and immersing ourselves in the energetic atmosphere of Cuba’s contemporary music scene. You will be able to participate in Sunset and Main Shows at Stage 45RPM and Stage 33RPM, featuring international and national DJs as well as invited bands.

More info about our festival tour here.


2. Havana
Salsa Festival

Dancing has been around for thousands of years and is a form of expression that has captivated people of all ages and cultures. The International Havana Salsa Festival is focused on salsa-dancing lovers. With a wide variety of styles to choose from, including Casino dance (a style of Cuban salsa), ChaChaChá, Rumbatón, Timba, and many more, there is something for everyone.

The International Havana Salsa Festival is not only about dance, but it also combines the most relevant music orchestras from all over Cuba, including famous bands. The festival organizers have announced the line-up for the 2023 edition, which was specifically picked by the audience through an online vote. The line-up includes Alexander Abreu y Havana D´Primera, Pupy y los que Son Son, Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son, Elito Revé y su Charangón, Enrique Alvarez y su Charanga Latina, Lazarito Valdez y Bamboleo, Maikel Blanco y su Salsa Mayor, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco, Alain Pérez, Isaac Delgado, El Niño y la Verdad, and Los Van Van orchestra.

If you decide to go to the Havana Salsa Fest, Havana Music Tours provides you with VIP passes, allowing you to experience the festival from the very front and more. Every night, you’ll be surrounded by music around the magical city of Havana, including the festival concerts and a premium music schedule outside this event. As a team of musicians and musicologists who have been working within the Cuban music scene for years, we are committed to curating unique experiences within the Cuban musical realm. So, join us to experience the best Cuban music and dance!

More info about our festival tour here.

1. Havana Jazz Plaza – Havana’s Annual Jazz Festival

The Havana International Music Festival is a highly respected annual event that has been held in Cuba for many years. This festival is considered one of the country’s most important and popular music events, attracting many music enthusiasts and performers from all over the world.

The festival is known for showcasing diverse musical styles, including traditional Cuban music, jazz, classical, and contemporary music. It provides a platform for both established and emerging artists to perform and gain exposure to a wider audience.

Over the years, the festival has featured performances from many renowned artists such as Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Chucho Valdés, Telmary, Joe Lovano, Snarky Puppy, Aaron Goldberg, Dayramir Gonzalez, Emmet Cohen, Brenda Navarrete, Alain Pérez, Interactivo, Alejandro Delgado, Oliver Valdés, Los Van Van, Hector Quintana, Muñequitos de Matanzas, Pedrito Martinez, Cimafunk, Ruy López-Nussa, Dave Weckl, Horacio Hernández (El Negro), Habana de Primera, Rumbatá, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and much more!. It has also provided a platform for many up-and-coming artists to showcase their talents and gain recognition.

Attending the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival is a must for any music lover and a great way to experience the rich and diverse musical culture of Cuba.

More info about our festival tour here.

Join us for an unforgettable tour of Cuba. Book your CubaTour Now!

Nestled on the southeastern coast of Cuba, Santiago de Cuba stands as a testament to the island’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and music. As the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution and the son musical genre, this vibrant city offers a unique blend of African, Spanish, and Caribbean influences that resonate in every corner, from its cobblestone streets to its lively plazas.

The Heartbeat of Cuban Music

Santiago de Cuba is often called the “Cradle of Son.” This traditional Cuban music style, characterized by its infectious rhythms and melodies, has its roots deeply embedded in this city. The son is more than just music; it’s a dance, a culture, and a way of life. As you stroll through Santiago, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon spontaneous son performances, where locals gather to dance, sing, and celebrate their heritage.

But the son is just the beginning. Santiago de Cuba is also home to vibrant rumba sessions, the soulful sounds of trova, and the energetic beats of conga. Each musical style tells a story, reflecting the city’s diverse history and its people’s indomitable spirit.

A City Steeped in History and Culture

Beyond its musical prowess, Santiago de Cuba is a treasure trove of historical landmarks and cultural sites. The city’s architecture is a visual journey through its colonial past, with Spanish-style churches, fortresses, and mansions dotting the landscape. The UNESCO-recognized Tumba Francesa “La Caridad de Oriente” offers a glimpse into the Franco-Haitian rhythms, dances, and traditions that have been preserved for generations.

Visiting the Conservatorio de Música Esteban Salas provides insights into Santiago’s musical evolution for those keen on delving deeper into the city’s history. Meanwhile, a day trip to nearby Guantánamo offers a fresh perspective on the region’s cultural diversity, guided by the wisdom of historian Jesús Cuenca.

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Savoring Santiago’s Culinary Delights

No visit to Santiago de Cuba is complete without indulging in its culinary delights. From the hearty Creole dishes served at Restaurante La Cabaña to the exquisite flavors of Restaurante El Madrileño, Santiago offers a gastronomic experience that tantalizes the taste buds. As the sun sets, the city’s nightlife comes alive, with venues like Casa de la Trova and Salón del Son hosting unforgettable musical performances.

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A Stone’s Throw Away: The Cultural Richness of Guantánamo

One of the remarkable aspects of Santiago de Cuba is its proximity to another cultural gem: Guantánamo. While Santiago is often celebrated for its musical heritage, Guantánamo offers its own tapestry of traditions and rhythms.

Guantánamo, like Santiago de Cuba, is renowned for its Tumba Francesa, a unique dance and musical expression blending French and African influences. This tradition, recognized by UNESCO, offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and the fusion of cultures that Cuba embodies. The city is also home to the vibrant Changüí music, a precursor to son. With its distinct sound, characterized by the marímbula and tres, Changüí is a testament to the island’s diverse musical roots.

Beyond music, Guantánamo offers insights into Cuba’s multifaceted culture. From the insights of historian Jesús Cuenca to the lively Guateque campesino gatherings, there’s a depth to explore that complements the Santiago experience.

Experience Santiago with Havana Music Tours

At Havana Music Tours, we understand the magic of Santiago de Cuba and its neighboring regions. Our tours are crafted not just as sightseeing excursions but as deep dives into the musical and cultural fabric of the places we visit. Led by musician tour guides, our journeys offer authentic experiences, from live music sessions to interactions with local artists.

Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a history buff, or someone looking to experience Cuba beyond the usual, our Santiago de Cuba tour promises memories to cherish. Join us, and let’s create a melody together that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Click here for more info about our Santiago Music & Cultural Tour.

 

Welcoming You to a Celebration Like No Other:

Prepare to enter the lively and heartwarming atmosphere of Cuban music with the much-anticipated Havana Salsa Festival 2024. From the 20th to the 26th of February, the historic and breathtaking avenues of Havana will transform into a stage for a grand celebration that captures the essence of Cuba’s rich musical heritage. This festival isn’t just an event; it’s a profound expression of Cuba’s spirited culture, offering a deep dive into the world of traditional Cuban music. It stands out for its homage to ‘son’ and ‘timba,’ ensuring a paradise for every salsa aficionado.

An Exquisite Line-Up Awaits You:

With a tradition of featuring Cuba’s most influential music orchestras, the festival’s 2023 roster, chosen by the loving votes of the audience, brought together stars such as Alexander Abreu y Havana D’Primera and the legendary Los Van Van orchestra. 2024 promises to elevate this legacy, setting the stage for nights filled with captivating performances that are the very heartbeat of Cuban music.

Confirmed performers for the event include renowned acts like Los Van Van, Monika Mesa, Mayito Rivera, Manolín el Médico de la Salsa, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco, Alain Pérez, Haila, Iván el hijo de Teresa, David Calzado y su Charanga Habanera, and many others. Dance classes will be led by famous instructors such as Maykel Fonts, Yanet Fuentes, Fredy Clan, and Jennyselt Galata. The festival will also feature prominent international DJs, DJ Massimo Roger Greco and DJ El Ratón Rabioso, to celebrate Cuban music further.

The Exclusive Havana Music Tour Salsa Fest Experience:

Our VIP Havana Salsa Festival Tour is crafted with the utmost attention to detail, ensuring an experience that goes beyond attending the festival—it’s about living and breathing every vibrant moment. Here’s why our tour is an unparalleled choice:

  • Unique Musical Insights: Guided by a team of passionate musicians and musicologists, we offer exclusive experiences that offer a deeper understanding of Cuban music, from intimate live studio sessions to being front and center at mesmerizing folkloric performances.
  • Cultural Immersion at Its Finest: Our tour extends beyond music, encompassing salsa dance lessons in the heart of Havana, engaging walking tours, and a journey through Cuba’s best culinary offerings. Experience dining at renowned spots like Atelierband El Del Frente, where the essence of Cuban cuisine comes to life.
  • Unmatched Comfort and Style: We provide a selection of accommodations, from nice villas to deluxe hotels, ensuring your stay is both comfortable and memorable.
  • Personalized Attention: With bilingual musicians and tour guides from both Cuba and the U.S., we guarantee an experience that’s genuine, enriching, and attentive to every detail.

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The Adventure of a Lifetime Awaits You:

The Havana Salsa Festival Tour 2024 extends an exclusive invitation to discover Cuba in its most genuine and musically enriched form. From the thrilling beats of salsa to the warm embrace of Cuban hospitality, this tour is set to be an unforgettable journey. With the festival just around the corner, there’s still time to secure your spot in this extraordinary celebration of music and culture. Book now, and let the adventure begin. Click here for more info.

Havana Music Tours’ 2024 Cuba Tours: A Ouray of Experiences Awaiting You!

Hello, music enthusiasts! At Havana Music Tours, we are gearing up for an extraordinary 2024, packed with tours that are more than just trips – they celebrate Cuba’s music and culture. Forget the clichés; we’re here to offer you a genuine, warm, and professionally crafted journey into the heart of Cuba’s musical landscape. Let’s take a tour through our upcoming adventures, shall we?

1. Havana Jazz Plaza Festival 2024 (January 21st- 29th, 2024)

As the new year unfolds, the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival awaits you. This is where Jazz meets Latin rhythms in an electrifying environment. Set in Havana’s heart with parallel events in Santiago de Cuba, the festival features performances in iconic theaters and is a confluence of jazz, rumba, and Latin fusion, creating a mosaic of unforgettable musical moments.

2. Havana Music & Cultural Tour (February 7th-11th, 2024 & April 2nd-6th, 2024)

This five-day experience in December 2023 is a tribute to vinyl music culture and includes visits to Havana’s iconic music venues. Think vibrant Fabrica de Arte Cubano evenings, insightful conversations with local musicians, and getting up close with the unique rhythm of Havana.

3. Havana Salsa Festival Tour 2024 (February 20th-26th, 2024)

Feel the heat of Cuban salsa in February with our Havana Salsa Festival Tour. This is where ‘son’ and ‘timba’ come alive in the streets of Havana. Club 500 in Vedado becomes a sprawling space for music and dance, offering you an authentic taste of Cuban music and rhythm.

4. Santiago Music & Cultural Tour 2024 (March 28th – April 1st)

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Spring in Santiago de Cuba is a spectacle of music and culture. Our Santiago Music & Cultural Tour takes you through the streets of this historic city and the rich musical heritage of Guantánamo Province. You’ll enjoy performances from Grammy Award-winning groups and delve into the depths of Cuba’s musical heart. This tour is an opportunity to connect with the Cuban soul, taste the local cuisine, and enjoy the comfort of staying in a Casa de Renta.

5. The Drummer’s Cuba Tour: Percussion Festival 2024- Fiesta del Tambor (March 7th – 11th, 2024)

Fiesta del Tambor, the drum party, is Cuba’s annual Percussion festival. This Cuba Percussion Festival features some of the greatest drummers, percussionists, and other musicians from all over Cuba and the world. This is the perfect mix for a
music tour of Cuba. We will be immersed in Cuban music and drumming the entire trip! If you are a drummer or musician, YOU HAVE TO GO! Not a musician? No worries, it will still be a blast! Lots of dancing, good music, and food.

6. VIP Music Tour of Cuba (April 7th-13th, 2024)

Our 7-day VIP Music Tour in April is the perfect fit for those seeking luxury and exclusivity. It combines the elegance of Havana with the tranquility of Viñales Valley. Expect front-row seats at Havana’s most thrilling performances, serene moments in Viñales, and a stay at the sumptuous Hotel Grand Aston.

7. Cuban Jazz and Rumba Tour 2024 (February 2024, TBD)

Experience the lineage of Cuban music, its evolution, and the interplay between Jazz and Rumba, all tailored for the passionate Jazz and Cuban music enthusiast. This tour is a blend of traditional Cuban rhythms with contemporary jazz. It’s a chance to meet artists like Ruly Herrera & Real Project and Roberto Fonseca, creating a rich tapestry of sounds and stories.

8. Varadero Josone Music Festival 2024 (August 2024, TBD)

In August, we take you to the scenic Josone Park in Varadero for the Varadero Josone Music Festival. Here, the backdrop of stunning beaches sets the stage for a rich display of Rumba, Jazz, Son, and more. It’s a journey from the historic streets of Havana to the musical shores of Varadero, a complete Cuban musical spectrum.

Conclusion

2024 with HavanaMusicTours.com is set to be an unforgettable year of musical exploration in Cuba. Our tours are designed to connect you with the real Cuba – its people, music, and vibrant culture. This isn’t just another vacation; it’s a journey into the heart of Cuban music, a chance to experience its magic firsthand. Join us for a year of discovery, fun, and unforgettable musical moments. For more details and to book your spot, check out our “Musical Getaways 2024-25 Catalog” available here. Let’s make 2024 a year to remember!

What to Expect from the Havana Jazz Festival 2024

Welcome to Jazz Plaza 2024, where Havana and Santiago de Cuba transform into stages for an exhilarating blend of jazz performances, bringing together the best Cuban and global talent. As we gear up for this grand musical festival, let’s dive into what makes Jazz Plaza 2024 a must-attend event for jazz lovers worldwide.

The International Jazz Maestros

Jazz Plaza 2024 boasts an impressive lineup of international artists, each bringing unique styles to Cuba’s vibrant jazz scene. Among the headliners, we have the electrifying pianist Nachito Herrera, who seamlessly blends classical, Latin, and jazz genres, promising a dynamic and soul-stirring performance. Violin virtuoso Karen Briggs, known for her ability to transcend musical boundaries, is set to deliver a performance that’s as diverse as captivating.

And then, there’s Emmet Cohen, an American jazz pianist whose innovative approach to jazz has earned him worldwide acclaim. From the Nordic lands, the Mathias Eick Quintet and Benjamin Koppel are set to add a unique Scandinavian touch to the festival, blending smooth jazz with European sensibilities.

Adding to this stellar lineup is Cuba’s own Roberto Fonseca, a pianist whose name resonates with the essence of contemporary Cuban jazz. Fonseca, known for his charismatic blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz, brings an electrifying energy to the stage. His performances are not just concerts; they’re an exploration of the rich musical landscapes of Cuba, infused with the spirit of jazz improvisation. Fonseca’s participation in Jazz Plaza 2024 is a nod to the festival’s commitment to showcasing the best Cuban jazz alongside international legends.

Cuban Rhythms and More

No Jazz Plaza festival would be complete without the rich tapestry of Cuban music. This year, we celebrate 60 years of the Original de Manzanillo and 45 years of Son 14, marking significant milestones in Cuban musical history. Additionally, Alejandro Falcón y Cubadentro will showcase their fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz, exemplifying the innovative spirit of Cuban jazz.

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Havana Jazz Plaza Festival 2019 – Performance at Teatro Nacional de Cuba

A Week of Musical Delights

Jazz Plaza 2024 spans a week filled with performances across various venues in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Each day unfolds a new chapter in the jazz saga, from tributes to jazz legends to showcases of emerging talents. Attendees can look forward to a blend of jazz styles, from traditional to contemporary, ensuring there’s something for every jazz enthusiast.

Buena Vista Social Club’s Stars Shine at Jazz Plaza 2024

An extraordinary night awaits at the Teatro Nacional Sala Covarrubias with “Estrellas de Buena Vista y más,” a showcase featuring the luminaries of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. This performance is poised to be one of the festival’s most memorable highlights.

A Gathering of Cuban Music Legends: This special event brings together a constellation of Cuban music icons, including Pancho Amat, Pedro Pablo Gutiérrez, Javier Zalba, and Lázaro Jorge Villa Morgan, among others. Each artist carries the legacy of Buena Vista Social Club, known worldwide for their profound impact on Cuban music. Accompanied by guests like the renowned Alain Pérez and María Victoria, the evening promises a blend of son, bolero, danzón, and more, creating a tapestry of sounds that embody the soul of Cuba.

This performance is a tribute to the enduring spirit of Cuban music and a testament to its ongoing evolution. It’s an opportunity for festival-goers to experience the richness of Cuban musical heritage brought to life by the very artists who have shaped its course.

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Omara Portuondo

Why Attend Jazz Plaza 2024?

Jazz Plaza 2024 is more than just a festival; it’s a cultural experience. It’s where the soul of jazz meets the heart of Cuban music, creating an exhilarating and deeply moving ambiance. Whether you’re a jazz purist or a casual music lover, this festival promises unforgettable moments set against the backdrop of Cuba’s rich cultural heritage.

Stay tuned for more updates, and get ready to dive into the world of the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival 2024!

For more info, check out our Havana Jazz Festival Tour page.

Exciting news for travel enthusiasts and Cuba aficionados! TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, has recently announced its Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2023, and Cuba has emerged as the Top Trending Destination globally, No.15 for Best Food Destinations and No.6 for Best Places for Culture. These distinctions are particularly significant as they reflect the highest growth in year-over-year interest among travelers on TripAdvisor​​​​​​​.

Why Cuba is Trending?

Cultural Richness and Musical Heritage At the heart of Cuba’s allure is its rich tapestry of music and culture. The island is a kaleidoscope of sounds – from the pulsating beats of Son and Salsa to the intricate rhythms of Afro-Cuban drumming. For music lovers and cultural explorers, Cuba offers an unparalleled journey through its diverse musical landscape.

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Historical Magnificence Cuba’s historical significance adds layers of depth to its appeal. The streets of Old Havana, with their colonial architecture and historical landmarks, are a living museum narrating tales from a bygone era. Each cobblestone and corner tells a story, enriching the travel experience with historical insights.

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Natural Beauty and Culinary Delights Beyond its cultural and historical allure, Cuba enchants with its natural beauty. The island’s diverse landscapes, from the white sandy beaches of Varadero to the lush tobacco fields of Viñales, offer breathtaking vistas. Cuban cuisine is complemented by its natural and cultural offerings – a delicious amalgamation of Spanish, African, and Caribbean flavors.

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Warm Hospitality The heart and soul of Cuba are its people. Known for their warmth and hospitality, Cubans welcome visitors with open arms, sharing their passion for music and dance. This hospitality is woven into the fabric of every experience, making each interaction memorable.

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The Havana Music Tours Experience

Havana Music Tours, recently honored with the Travelers’ Choice Award 2023 from TripAdvisor, focuses on private and small group tours (Up to 12 guests) led by expert musicians and musicologists. We provide immersive interactions with local musicians, music lessons, and authentic cultural tours, aligning perfectly with Cuba’s emergence as a trending destination. Our in-depth and personalized tours are tailored for travelers eager to experience the best of Cuban music. From skip-the-line reservations at top music venues to customized itineraries, we cater to the unique preferences of each traveler, offering a truly bespoke Cuban adventure.

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Conclusion

Cuba’s recognition as the top trending travel destination for 2023 reflects its multifaceted appeal. Whether it’s the rhythm of the drums in a Callejon de Hamel rumba or the serene beauty of a sunset over Malecón, Cuba offers a travel experience like no other. Havana Music Tours stands ready to guide music & culture lovers through this rhythm-filled land, ensuring a journey that resonates with the soul of Cuba.

More info about our tours here.

The Global Influence of Cuban Music

Cuban music is a rich tapestry that has not only shaped the island’s cultural identity but has also left a significant mark on the global music scene. Its rhythmic vitality and vibrant melodies reflect the island’s complex history and diverse influences, making Cuban music a key player in shaping the world’s perception of this Caribbean nation.

Delve into the heart of Cuba’s musical heritage as we uncover five intriguing aspects that you probably didn’t know, from the legendary Buena Vista Social Club to the energetic beats of Timba and the enchanting rituals of Afro-Cuban music.

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Omara Portuondo

1. Buena Vista Social Club: Reviving Cuba’s Golden Age

The Buena Vista Social Club, formed in 1996, played a pivotal role in revitalizing traditional Cuban music. This ensemble of veteran musicians showcased styles like son, bolero, and danzón, echoing the musical golden age of the 1930s to 1950s. 

The group’s international success, spurred by their eponymous album and Wim Wenders’ documentary, not only revived interest in Cuban music but also in Latin American music as a whole. Interestingly, this project started almost accidentally when a planned collaboration between Cuban and Malian musicians fell through, leading to the formation of this iconic group​​​​​​.

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2. Afro-Cuban Rituals: A Musical Bridge to Africa

Afro-Cuban music, deeply rooted in the traditions of African ethnic groups brought to Cuba as slaves, is a vital element of Cuban music. This music, intimately connected with traditional African religions like Lucumi and Palo, has preserved African languages and cultural practices. 

The music, primarily passed down orally and often performed in private gatherings, is characterized by polyrhythmic percussion, call-and-response vocals, and dance. This style of music not only reflects Cuba’s African heritage but also showcases the island’s unique cultural fusion​​​.

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3. Timba: The Rhythmic Voice of Contemporary Cuba

Timba, a genre that emerged in the 1990s, is a dynamic evolution of traditional Cuban son, integrating elements from salsa, American Funk/R&B, and Afro-Cuban folkloric music. Known for its aggressive style, emphasis on bass drum, and provocative dance style known as “despelote,” timba reflects the cultural and social upheaval during Cuba’s “Special Period” in the early 1990s. 

Bands like Los Van Van, Irakere, and NG La Banda were instrumental in setting the foundation for this genre, which is characterized by complex percussion, fast horn parts, and unconventional bass patterns​​​​​​​​.

Check out our Havana Salsa Fest tour happening in February 2024 for lots of live Timba music in Cuba

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4. Punto Cubano: The Rural Poetry Set to Music

Punto Cubano, or punto guajiro, is a genre that originated in the 17th century, predominantly in rural Cuba. With roots in Andalusian and Canary Islands music, punto integrates African elements and is performed with a variety of guitars and percussion instruments. 

The genre is particularly noted for its improvisational singing style and unvarying melody, offering a glimpse into the rural life and culture of Cuba. Notable artists like Celina González and Albita started their careers with this genre, while Indio Naborí stands out for his contributions to punto through his decima poetry​​​​.

Tropicana Show in Havana, Cuba

5. Tropicana Club: The Epitome of Cuban Nightlife

The Tropicana Club, opened in 1939 in Havana, epitomizes the glamour and extravagance of Cuban nightlife. Originally a combination of a casino and cabaret, Tropicana evolved into a renowned nightclub, famous for its outdoor setting amidst tropical gardens, extravagant shows, and modern architecture. 

The club’s shows, often featuring large chorus lines and vibrant native rhythms and costumes, attracted top international stars and tourists, contributing significantly to Cuba’s cultural and tourist appeal​​​​​​.

For more fascinating insights into the rich tapestry of Cuban music and its global influence discover our various tours,  your portal to exploring the world of music from Cuba and beyond. Discover the rhythms, the history, and the stories that make Cuban music a treasure trove of cultural heritage.

 

Written by Rocío de Lucía, Tour Leader and Musicologist with Havana Music Tours & Musical Getaways

Tour Release

Dear Music Enthusiasts and Cultural Explorers, we are overjoyed to share a unique and captivating journey that we have been passionately crafting: The VIP Music Tour of Cuba. This VIP Cuba tour is not just a travel experience; it is a heartfelt invitation to join us in celebrating the rich tapestry of Cuban music and culture.

A Journey Through the Heart of Cuban Music

Our VIP Music Tour is a carefully curated adventure through the vibrant streets of Havana and the serene landscapes of Viñales. Each day is a new opportunity to connect with the music, the people, and the stories that make Cuba so special.

In Havana, the city comes alive with the sounds of music at every corner. We have arranged for you to attend the city’s most captivating music events, ensuring you have a front-row seat to the energy and passion of Cuban performances. From live concerts to intimate gatherings with local musicians, these are moments filled with joy and connection.

Our day trip to Viñales offers a change of pace as we explore the lush countryside, visit tobacco farms, and delve into the world of Cuba’s famous cigars. It’s a chance to connect with the land and the people, enjoying a farm-to-table lunch and the gentle melodies of the countryside.

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Exclusive Experiences and Warm Connections

Our team, comprised of dedicated musicians and experts in Cuban music, has spent years fostering relationships within the Havana music scene. This allows us to offer you exclusive experiences that truly connect you with the heart of Cuban music.

Imagine feeling the energy of a live studio session, learning the steps of salsa in a private dance lesson, or attending a private opening party with our own band and some of Cuba’s top musicians. These are the moments that make our VIP Music Tour truly special.

Luxury Accommodations and Culinary Delights

Your comfort and enjoyment are our top priorities. Each day begins with a lavish breakfast featuring a spread of fresh local produce, eggs, bread, coffee, and juices. Your accommodations at the Hotel Grand Aston offer stunning views, luxurious amenities, and various room options to suit your preferences.

havana-grand-aston-Pool-VIP Cuba TourThe culinary journey is an integral part of our tour, with meals at Havana’s top-rated Paladares and a special farm-to-table lunch in Viñales. The food is as rich and flavorful as the music, providing a feast for all your senses.

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Join Us for an Unforgettable Experience

We invite you to be part of this unique and heartfelt journey. Spaces are limited, so we encourage you to secure your spot today and join us in celebrating the magic of Cuban music and culture.

For more information and to reserve your place, please visit our booking page.

We can’t wait to share this incredible experience with you.

 

Tour Release

Explore the Heartbeat of Cuba: Havana Music & Cultural Tour feat. Havana RPM Vinyl Music Festival 2024

Welcome to a musical journey like no other, set in the vibrant streets of Havana, Cuba. This November 2024, we invite you to join us for the Havana Music & Cultural Tour, a unique blend of rhythm, culture, and the joy of vinyl music. The inaugural Havana RPM Vinyl Music Festival is highlighting our journey, proudly presented by Guampara Music, Cuba’s pioneering independent record label.

A Tour Through Havana’s Musical Soul

The Havana Music & Cultural Tour is your gateway to the soul of Cuban music and culture.

Stroll Through Historic Havana

Take a leisurely walk through Old Havana, where history and artistry meet. Engage with local artists, discover hidden craft stores, and learn about the musical evolution that has shaped Cuba.

Taste the Authentic Flavors of Cuba

Indulge in the rich flavors of Cuban cuisine at some of the city’s finest paladares. Enjoy moments of culinary delight, and share stories and laughter with fellow travelers.

Move to the Rhythms of Cuba

Whether you’re a dance enthusiast or just looking to enjoy the music, there are plenty of opportunities to move to the rhythms of Cuban music and feel the joy it brings.

A Celebration of Vinyl: Havana RPM Festival

The Havana RPM Vinyl Music Festival stands out as a heartfelt tribute to the timeless allure of vinyl. Over the course of two days, the festival gathers a community of vinyl collectors, music enthusiasts, and those curious about the world of records.

Engaging Conversations and Insightful Discussions

Join us for thought-provoking discussions on the evolution of discography in Cuba, the unique role of vinyl in DJ culture, and the empowering connection between women and vinyl. Gain valuable insights from speakers like Leydi Marrero and Rafael Valdivia, who bring their passion and knowledge to the forefront.

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Art, Vinyl, and Everything In-Between

Wander through captivating exhibitions featuring sound-inspired posters by Pepe Menéndez, and explore a marketplace brimming with vinyl, equipment, accessories, and crafts. This is your chance to find that rare gem of a record or appreciate the intersection of visual art and music.

 

Live Music That Resonates

Feel the energy as the festival stages come to life with Sunset Shows and Main Shows at Stage 45RPM and Stage 33RPM. Groove to the beats of International and National DJs and experience the vibrant performances of invited bands.

Be Part of Something Special

If you love music, are curious about vinyl, and desire to experience the warmth of Cuban culture, the CUBA CULTURAL TOUR FEATURING HAVANA RPM MUSIC FESTIVAL 2024, November 27th – December 3rd, 2024, is for you. Join us for this special journey and create memories that will last a lifetime.

For booking and more information, please visit our tour page.

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