The Cuban Salsa festival in Havana, Cuba is one of those events where you won’t stop dancing for a second. The event brings together the most relevant famous music orchestras from all over the Island. It is an explosion of music and energy never experienced before.

The highlight of this Festival is the salsa music genre, better known in Cuba as “son” or “timba” -one of the most modern and popular variants of Cuban son. Hence, the possibility of enjoying the rhythmic-melodic combinations of contemporary Cuban popular music.

Since the first versions of the Havana Salsa Festival, the presence of Afro-Cuban rhythms, rumba, Salsa, and casino dance in different modalities has been shocking, such as concerts, showcases, conferences, visits to places with relevant musical history, etc.

The Cuban pianist and composer Maykel Blanco plays the primary host of the event, together with his Salsa Mayor orchestra and Cuban cultural institutions such as the Centro Provincial de Espectáculos y de Carnaval de La Habana (Provincial Center of Shows and Carnival of Havana), and other music businesses like Artex, Paradiso, Musicalia, Clave Cubana, Instituto Cubano of the music.

The festival headquarters is the Club 500 of the José Antonio Echeverría de Palmares Recreational Complex, besieged in the heart of one of the most central and popular neighborhoods in Havana, Vedado. The space includes a large stage with an extensive area conducive to enjoying good music and dancing with your friends.

Every year, the famous Cuban Salsa festival welcomes important Cuban groups such as Pupy y los que Son Son, Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son, Alexander Abreu y Havana D´Primera, and the legendary Los Van Van orchestra. In addition to national artists, the Salsa Festival has had the presence of international musicians such as the Puerto Rican salsero Victor Manuelle.

For 2022, Festival de la Salsa organizers presented another tight Line-Up, including the famous Cuban orchestras mentioned before. Let’s check it out!

2023 Tour Dates are February 21st-March 1st, 2023

 

Check our special Cuban Salsa Festival playlist if you want to get in tune with our Cuban Salsa Festival Tour.

 

We are happy to announce that Havana Music Tours is a proud sponsor of the Havana Film Festival in New York. The nonprofit film festival has been around for 20 years and they are doing great with helping to promote Latin American cinema. Showcasing talents from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Spain and the United States. The festival promotes award winning full length films, animation, shorts, documentaries, and classics. All of which help to expand the fascinating latin culture to the world. We highly recommend going to see the festival in New York April 5th-16th, 2019. If you are able to go April 13th, you may be lucky to catch a Havana Music Tours video shortly before cuban music documentary, Eliades Ochoa. 🙂

 

About HFFNY:

“HFFNY has paid tribute to some of the most important directors and actors including: Fernando Birri (Argentina), Walter Salles (Brazil), Silvio Caiozzi (Chile), Victor Gaviria (Colombia), Humberto Solas (Cuba), Juan Carlos Tabio (Cuba), Luis Alberto Garcia (Cuba), Jorge Perugorría (Cuba), Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Cuba), Arturo Ripstein (Mexico), Jacobo Morales (Puerto Rico), and Estela Bravo (U.S.).

We continue forging a close relationship with our community, providing a multi-cultural experience to different age groups. Our special events, including retrospectives and panel discussions with notable local and international directors, actors, and producers, provide our audience with educational opportunities as well as a behind-the-scenes look at an industry that continues to gain recognition on a global level. By collaborating with other institutions and festivals, HFFNY is able to bring to NY the work of the most dynamic international Latino filmmakers.”

Film Fest schedules below. For more info please visit https://hffny.com/2019

havana film festival new york schedule

 

 

Legal Travel to Cuba

(Updated February 2022)

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

There are many different ways to travel to Cuba. The “best way” is different for each person. This blog post will give you some insight into what I know about travel to Cuba. Including how traveling to Cuba differentiates from other international travel destinations.

The first thing that you should know is that travel to Cuba is legal for Americans. I know I am writing from a tour agency’s blog, but ultimately, I think you should travel to Cuba in any way that fits you best. For example, maybe you don’t like to be risky in a place that you don’t know…? Or perhaps you prefer the freedom to explore on your own versus being on tour.

This blog will break down the differences between the few and give some information to help you decide which travel option is the best for you. Traveling on your own time and exploring freely definitely has its benefits. You could stop at a specific store you want or spend more time inside a cafe or restaurant. Honestly, I like to do that too. This sort of freedom can give you a bit of space to discover something new when you arrived versus when you were initially making all of your reservations.

How can you travel to Cuba?

Despite any misinformation you may have heard, you can travel to Cuba on your own without a tour or cruise ship. However, there may be some significant benefits to traveling with time to Cuba (at least on your first visit). I will expand on that later in this article.

When traveling to Cuba on your own, especially as an American or someone living in or traveling from the United States, at the very least, you must follow the general guidelines of OFAC’s Cuba regulations. The only license that allows individual travel is “Support for the Cuban People.” A basic overview of the rules listed in this license: You must stay in a Casa Particular (AirBnB) or any privately owned home. No hotels as they are all partially owned by the government. It is hard to justify a license to Support the Cuban people if you aren’t supporting them.

You must have a full-time itinerary, obey the Cuba restricted list, and keep your receipts for at least five years. In addition, you must shop and eat at privately owned businesses and restaurants. In any case, you can take a tour and then wander on your own; many of our guests do it like that. You can start with a Tour, get the hang of Cuba, and then adventure independently. It is a perfect way!

I have been traveling to Cuba for over two years, and I am still learning things every day. Booking a tour is the easiest way because you can stay in a Casa Particular to fulfill your Support for the Cuban People License, again, the license you must use to travel as an individual to Cuba. Otherwise, I recommend at least a whole week in Havana to begin to grasp all of the different cultural experiences available. 

The honest case for a Cuba tour is that any Tour, especially ours, is not necessarily relaxing; they are very interactive, busy, and full of different experiences. We at Havana Music Tours allow free time to explore within your itinerary

Let’s go to Cuba!

The ultimate way to experience Cuba is with a cultural tour like ours. Yes, we are biased, but it is true. From the many testimonials on TripAdvisor, you can read that our guests have a blast. Our tours allow you to “skip the line” and experience the best of Cuba in a short amount of time.

I want to quote one of our guests, Fred, “Even if you speak Spanish fluently (unlike me) or are good at ferreting out obscure events in strange places (which I generally can), there is still no way you will find half of what Mr. Chaz Chambers can introduce you to.” Especially if you are a Cuban music lover, you can’t afford to miss what we have found for you.

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

Also, check out our Ultimate Cuba Travel Checklist (Updated January 2022)

(Update September 2020)

Here is my video regarding the newest Cuba sanctions, what it means for Us Citizens, and your future Cuba travel. New rules regarding bringing cigars and rums back into the USA, some general travel licenses, and the new CPA (Cuba Prohibited Accommodations)

Links:

https://www.state.gov/announcement-of-the-cuba-prohibited-accommodations-list/

https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/sanctions-programs-and-country-information/cuba-sanctions

(Update from June 2019)

How to travel to Cuba under Support for the Cuban people and what that means for your travel to Cuba.

(Update from February 2018)

Hi everyone,

I made a short video regarding the newest travel regulations for U.S. Citizens traveling to Cuba. I know a lot of this gets repetitive, but there is a lot of misinformation out there and I want to set the record straight.

The bottom line is that you can still travel to Cuba as an *individual. I have been reading a lot of misinformation saying that you HAVE to travel with a tour agency. As a tour agency, I am telling you that you do not have to travel with us or any other tour agency! I know it is weird for us to be the ones to tell you that, but it is the truth. We want to see more people traveling to Cuba no matter who you chose as your guides.

The newest regulations regarding Americans traveling to Cuba mostly changed the individual aspect of people to people/educational travel. If you travel under this license you will have to go with a licensed tour group that has an American tour leader, (like Havana Music Tours).

If you decide to go under the Support for the Cuban people license, we can still help you to design your itinerary, make reservations, and generally make the whole process easier. Cuba is a complicated place to travel to, especially for Americans. We don’t want this to stop you from seeing the amazing culture, fantastic music, and experiencing the kindness of the Cuban people.

Although, If you want to go on a tour with Havana Music Tours there are a ton of benefits. Some of which would be a personalized group setting, private reservations, interactions with Cuban musicians, peace of mind, and much more. Not to mention, you don’t have to spend a ton of time planning the trip. We take care if it all for you. Either way… GO TO CUBA! It is a very safe country and a MUST experience.

Restricted list- https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/cuba/cubarestrictedlist/index.htm

Feel free to email us at [email protected]

Sincerely,

Chaz Chambers (Owner/Director)

Join “Car Pooling with Ben” as Chaz tells Ben about the situation of traveling to Cuba and the growing interest in people wanting to explore Cuban culture and specifically its music with Havana Music Tours.

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

Also, check out our Ultimate Cuba Travel Checklist (Updated January 2022)

New update as of June 4th, 2019:

OFAC, The treasury department has issued new travel rules for traveling to Cuba. This included eliminating one of the 12 licenses called “Educational People to People Group Travel.” Keep in mind that all of the other travel licenses, such as Support for the Cuban people, Professional Research and Meetings, Journalism, and much more are still allowed.

Click to access cuba_faqs_new.pdf

Havana Music Tours will continue to operate under the Support for the Cuban people, and Professional Research and Meetings General Licenses. These licenses are already qualified under our current tour structure. When we travel to Cuba we prefer to stay in privately owned homes and villas called Casa Particulares. Staying in these homes is just one way of supporting the Cuban people, we also work with many musicians, local tour guides, and paladares (private restaurants) to insure that the use of Tour money goes into the hands of the Cuban people and their family.

 

Sincerely,

Chaz Chambers (founder and director of Havana Music Tours)

 

—June 2017

Dear Travelers,

We are constantly eyeing the changes with Cuba and U.S, and we still firmly believe that Cuba is a very safe place to travel. In fact, Cuba has some of the lowest crime rates in all of Latin America. Havana Music Tours remains dedicated to showcasing the vast amounts of cultural in the music, dance, and art scenes around Cuba. We believe it is important to maintain a positive relationship with our close neighbors. The Cuban people are some of the nicest and most hospitable people I have ever met. The musicianship and way of living in Cuba is something that I believe everyone should see in their lifetime.

On June 16th, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an order to the Treasury Department to re-write the travel regulations to Cuba. As of Today, November 8th, 2017, they have officially enacted the new rules. The basics: You can still go to Cuba. The dirty details: it can get more complicated. People to people/educational travel licenses are now limited to traveling in groups with a U.S. based representative. Good news for reading this because Havana Music Tours remains authorized under the OFAC general licenses to be your official tour guides to Cuba. The Treasury Department also released a list of Cuban military entities that U.S. citizens and businesses are prohibited from having financial transactions with. There are a lot of hotels on this list, and in fact, most of the hotels are considered to be affiliated with a branch of the Cuban military. We continue our recommendation of staying in “Casa Particulars,” which are basically “Bed and Breakfast style” – shared housing with a Cuban family. There are still a few hotels that are authorized by OFAC, and even options for entire houses and condos to be rented. Please email us if you have any questions: [email protected]

 

Below we have attached all of the links to the Treasury and State Department’s documentation on the matter:

 

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cacr_11082017.pdf

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_fact_sheet_11082017.pdf

https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/cuba/cubarestrictedlist/index.htm

https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/cuba/cubarestrictedlist/275331.htm

https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/cuba/cubarestrictedlist/275382.htm

 

Thanks for all of your continued support,

Chaz A. Chambers (Owner)

Why El Malecón is a special place in Havana, Cuba?

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

The famous El Malecón stretches five miles along the coast in Havana, Cuba. It is where the sea meets the city and all the priceless fun occurs with the Cuban people and the distant tourists. There, you can really experience the excitement and free spirit of the Cuban culture. People are walking around playing traditional Cuban music (Afro-Cuban rumba, bolero, guaguancó, and more.) You will find diverse groups of people dancing, singing, drinking some Havana Club, or maybe even enjoying a Bucanero Cerveza (Cuban beer).

Malecón was originally designed as a protection of the city from the water. (Who would have guessed that it would become one of the coolest nighttime hangout spots in the whole city.) Construction of the wall that lines the sea began around 1901 and some parts were even developed up until the early 1920s. The final parts were constructed in the late 1940s and early 50s, before the famous Cuban Revolution.

Your tour leader will make sure that each itinerary has a nighttime visit to El Malecón around sunset. There are a series of small restaurants and bars to grab food and drinks. Sometimes there are even pop up tents selling street food, water, sodas, and beer. You will see plenty of vintage cars driving by as you observe the classic architecture, unlike any other city. It is not only blissful, but it will bring you back to an era that emulates the 1950s. Each area you walk along has something fun and inspiring happening.

Havana Music Tours has a selection of tour dates that are very flexible for anyone’s schedule. We also have some of the most unique itineraries in comparison to any other tour operator. We are simply a music-loving company that has a passion for international travel. The music in Cuba has famously influenced jazz musicians in America, Latin America, and the rest of the world for decades.

Find out why everyone loves Cuba and their culture so much, book your tour now.

Also, check out our Ultimate Cuba Travel Checklist (Updated January 2022)