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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)

5 - Santiago Music Tours Photos - Havana Music Tours - Rumberos de Hoy - rumba santiaguera - afrocuban musicians

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!

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.

AfroCUban Culture experience Callejon de Hamel - Havana Music Tours Private Tour - November 2023IMG_2966

 

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.

Old Havana Walking Tour - Havana Music Tours Private Tour - November 2023IMG_2817

 

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.

Viñales Day Trip - Havana Music Tours Private Tour - November 2023IMG_3184 2  Dj Jigüe Vinyl Experience and AfroCaribbean Lunch - Havana Music Tours Private Tour - November 2023IMG_3083

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.

Havana-music-tours-client-with-professionals-cuban -musicians

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.

HMT traveler's choice tripadvisor Collage (2)

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.

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.

Mogotes Landscape Photo, Viñales Valley, Pinar del Río, Cuba 3 VIP Cuba Tour - Havana Music Tours Archive  Tobacco Farm, Viñales Valley, Pinar del Río, Cuba 2 VIP Cuba Tour - Havana Music Tours Archive

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.

cuban paladar vista mar food - VIP Cuba Tour

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 2023

Welcome to a musical journey like no other, set in the vibrant streets of Havana, Cuba. This December 2023, we invite you to join us for the Havana Music & Cultural Tour, a unique blend of rhythm, culture, and the joy of vinyl music. Highlighting our journey is the inaugural Havana RPM Vinyl Music Festival, 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.

guampara music building - Havana RPM Vinyl festival 2023 511 - Art Exhibition

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 have a love for music, a curiosity about vinyl, and a desire to experience the warmth of Cuban culture, the Havana Music & Cultural Tour, December 20th – 24th, 2023, 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.

Havana RPM Vinyl Music Festival - Havana Music Tours Promo

Tour Release

Today, as we honor Cuban Culture Day, we’re thrilled to introduce our Santiago de Cuba Music and Cultural Tour, March 27th-31st, 2024. Santiago de Cuba, often referred to as the cradle of Cuban music, holds a special place in the heart of our nation’s cultural tapestry. Nestled in a remote corner of Cuba, Santiago boasts an authenticity that is both rare and captivating.

With Havana Music Tours, you’ll have the opportunity to explore Santiago de Cuba’s rich musical heritage, guided by our expert musician team. Over five unforgettable days, you’ll connect with the soul of Santiago, experiencing its vibrant rhythms, historic landmarks, and the warmth of its traditions. From the iconic Casa de la Trova and Salón del Son to the Grammy Award-Winning performances of Septeto Santiaguero and the UNESCO-recognized Tumba Francesa La Caridad de Oriente, every moment promises to be a feast for the senses.

Conga de los Hoyos, Santiago de Cuba 2023 – Havana Music Tours

But it’s not just about the music. Santiago’s culinary scene is a delightful journey in itself. Relish meals at renowned spots like Restaurante La Cabaña and Restaurante El Madrileño. As the sun sets, let Santiago’s nightlife enchant you with performances that resonate with the city’s deep-rooted musical legacy.

Beyond the music and food, Santiago’s history is a testament to its significance in Cuban culture. With visits to places like the Conservatorio de Música Esteban Salas and a day trip to Guantánamo guided by historian Jesús Cuenca, you’ll gain insights into the city’s storied past.

Sala Dolores, Santiago de Cuba 2023 – Havana Music Tours

So, as we celebrate Cuban Culture Day, we invite you to join us on this special journey to Santiago de Cuba. Let’s come together to honor the rhythms, flavors, and stories that make Cuban culture so beautifully unique.

Discover more about this exciting tour and book your spot: Santiago de Cuba Music and Cultural Tour 2024

Happy Cuban Culture Day! 🎉🇨🇺

Cuba Travel Licenses for Americans

 

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

Support for the Cuban People is one of the most popular and legal general licenses under the US Treasury Department for United States Citizens to travel to Cuba. But it’s not the only one. There are 11 licenses for travel to Cuba, so let’s make this simple for you.

*The OFAC licenses you could easily use to travel to Cuba are highlighted in bold.

  1. Family visits
  2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3. Journalistic activity
  4. Professional research and professional meetings
  5. Educational activities
  6. Religious activities
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

Professional research and professional meetings License

Depending on what you do for a living or what you want to do for a living (professionally) you can travel to Cuba to meet with people and certain organizations to further research your work or your future work. For example… I am a professional drummer and a tour operator owner. I can travel to Cuba under this license and meet with musicians, musical institutes, travel agencies, etc. I can also do research by going out to music venues and researching music culture, rhythms, styles, etc. Check out this video I made on my VLOG talking about this license and if Americans can go to the beach in Cuba.

Educational activities License

Group People to People is the preferred license for U.S. travelers but must be accomplished with an organized and legal tour operator, like us!

Here are the rules from OFAC:

  • “Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may not travel to Cuba to engage in “people-to-people” educational exchanges on an individual basis.  However, group people-to-people travel is generally authorized for educational activities, subject to certain conditions.  Effective June 9, 2022, OFAC amended 31 CFR § 515.565(b) to authorize group people-to-people educational travel conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact, provided such travelers are accompanied by an employee, paid consultant, or agent of the sponsoring organization.  Travel-related transactions authorized pursuant to § 515.565(b) must be for the purpose of engaging, while in Cuba, in a full-time schedule of activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; and will result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.”

Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions

This license that you will almost never hear a travel agency talking about. Mostly because it is almost impossible for them to facilitate these sorts of activities. I think this is also what makes our tour company unique and how we deal with music, music festivals, and musicians. Most of our travel will now include this license and its activities along with the Support for the Cuban people license. This license is also freer than other licenses to travel to Cuba. As in, there is no requirement for a full-time itinerary. Though we still maintain a full-time itinerary for our tours, it isn’t particularly necessary. Here is the information directly from OFAC:

  • (a) General license for amateur and semi-professional international sports federation competitions. The travel-related transactions set forth in §515.560(c) and such other transactions as are directly incident to participation in athletic competitions in Cuba by amateur or semi-professional athletes or athletic teams, or organization of such competitions, are authorized, provided that:
  • (1) The athletic competition in Cuba is held under the auspices of the international sports federation for the relevant sport;
  • (2) The U.S. participants in the athletic competition are selected by the U.S. federation for the relevant sport; and
  • (3) The competition is open for attendance, and in relevant situations, participation, by the Cuban public.
  • (b) General license for public performances, clinics, workshops, other athletic or non-athletic competitions, and exhibitions. The travel-related transactions set forth in §515.560(c) and such other transactions as are directly incident to participation in or organization of a public performance, clinic, workshop, athletic competition not covered by paragraph (a) of this section, non-athletic competition, or exhibition in Cuba by participants in or organizers of such activities are authorized, provided that the event is open for attendance, and in relevant situations participation, by the Cuban public.
  • Example 1 to §515.567(a) and (b): An amateur baseball team wishes to travel to Cuba to compete against a Cuban team in a baseball game in Cuba. The game will not be held under the auspices of the international sports federation for baseball. The baseball team’s activities therefore would not qualify for the general license in paragraph (a). The game will, however, be open to the Cuban public. The baseball team’s activities would qualify for the general license in paragraph (b).
  • Example 2 to §515.567(a) and (b): A U.S. concert promoter wishes to organize a musical event in Cuba that would be open to the public and feature U.S. musical groups. The organizing of the musical event in Cuba by the U.S. concert promoter and the participation by U.S. musical groups in the event would qualify for the general license in paragraph (b).
  • Note 1 to §515.567(a) and (b): Each person relying on the general authorizations in these paragraphs must retain specific records related to the authorized travel transactions. See §§501.601 and 501.602 of this chapter for applicable recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
  • Note 2 to §515.567(a) and (b): Transactions incident to the organization of amateur and semi-professional international sports federation competitions and public performances, clinics, workshops, other athletic or non-athletic competitions, and exhibitions include marketing related to such events in Cuba.
  • (c) An entire group does not qualify for the general license in paragraph (a) or (b) of this section merely because some members of the group qualify individually.
  • (d) Nothing in paragraph (a) or (b) of this section authorizes a direct financial transaction prohibited by §515.209.
  • (e) Specific licenses. Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in §515.560(c) and such other transactions as are related to public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions that do not qualify for the general licenses under paragraphs (a) or (b) of this section.

Support for the Cuban People

Don’t want to travel with Havana Music Tours? You don’t have to!! This is the license to use if you want to travel without a group to Cuba. Though you can use the others as well, this one is the most popular.

For this license, like almost all other licenses you will need a full-time itinerary, keep your receipts for 5 years, avoid spending money at places on the Cuba Restricted List, and make sure you are ACTUALLY Supporting the Cuban people. How do you do that? Buy doing business at privately owned places, like Paladares (Private Restaurants), staying in Casa Particulares (Airbnb, Bed, and Breakfast, etc), having and paying for breakfast in your casa, and generally making an itinerary that utilizes as many privately owned entities, people, businesses as possible in Cuba. Here is the OFAC license information from their website to understand more:

  • (a) General license. The travel-related transactions set forth in §515.560(c) and other transactions that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people are authorized, provided that:
  • (1) The activities are of:
  • (i) Recognized human rights organizations;
  • (ii) Independent organizations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; or
  • (iii) Individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba; and
  • (2) Each traveler engages in a full-time schedule of activities that:
  • (i) Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; and
  • (ii) Result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba.
  • (3) The traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.
  • Note 1 to paragraph (a): Each person relying on the general authorization in this paragraph must retain specific records related to the authorized travel transactions. See §§501.601 and 501.602 of this chapter for applicable recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
  • Note 2 to paragraph (a): Staying in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately-owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropista) are examples of activities that qualify for this general license. However, in order to meet the requirement for a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities.
  • (b) An entire group does not qualify for the general license in paragraph (a) of this section merely because some members of the group qualify individually.
  • (c) Certain direct financial transactions restricted. Nothing in paragraph (a)(1)(iii) of this section authorizes a direct financial transaction prohibited by §515.209, with the exception of transactions on behalf of a non-governmental organization.
  • (d) Specific licenses. Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in §515.560(c) and such other transactions as are related to support for the Cuban people that do not qualify for the general license under paragraph (a) of this section.
  • Example 1 to §515.574: An individual plans to travel to Cuba, stay in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eat at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shop at privately-owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropista) during his or her four-day trip. While at the casa particular, the individual will have breakfast each morning with the Cuban host and engage with the Cuban host to learn about Cuban culture. In addition, the traveler will complete his or her full-time schedule by supporting Cuban entrepreneurs launching their privately-owned businesses. The traveler’s activities promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. Because the individual’s qualifying activities are not limited to staying in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropista) and the traveler maintains a full-time schedule that enhances contact with the Cuban people, supports civil society in Cuba, and promotes the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that results in meaningful interaction between the traveler and Cuban individuals, the individual’s travel qualifies for the general license.
  • Example 2 to §515.574: A group of friends plans to travel and maintain a full-time schedule throughout their trip by volunteering with a recognized non-governmental organization to build a school for underserved Cuban children with the local community. In their free time, the travelers plan to rent bicycles to explore the streets of Havana and visit an art museum. The travelers’ trip would qualify for the general license because the volunteer activities promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba and constitute a full-time schedule that enhances contact with the Cuban people and supports civil society in Cuba, and results in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.
  • Example 3 to §515.574: An individual plans to travel to Cuba, rent a bicycle to explore the neighborhoods and beaches, and engage in brief exchanges with local beach vendors. The individual intends to stay at a hotel that does not appear on the Cuba Restricted List (see §515.209). The traveler’s trip does not qualify for this general license because none of these activities promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba.

I am not an attorney, so please make sure to understand all of the rules completely before traveling to Cuba. This blog is to help share correct information about traveling to Cuba. We recommend you read all of the information directly from OFAC, by clicking this link. Also, please refer to the Cuba Restricted List for a list of government entities on that you are not allowed to spend money.

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

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

Havana Jazz Festival

Are you a jazz enthusiast looking to immerse yourself in the vibrant Cuban music scene? Look no further than the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival. This annual event brings together some of the world’s most talented jazz musicians for unforgettable performances in the heart of Havana. In this post, we’ll provide a complete guide to the festival, packed with insider tips and must-see attractions to help you make the most of your visit.

The Havana Jazz Festival 

The Havana Jazz Festival, also known as the International Jazz Plaza Festival, celebrates Cuban jazz’s rich history and culture. Held annually for over 35 years, the festival features an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary jazz styles, showcasing both Cuban and international musicians.

But what exactly can you expect from the festival? Here are some additional details to help you plan your trip:

Dates: The Havana Jazz Plaza Festival typically occurs in January, but exact dates can vary yearly. We recommend checking with a Havana Music Tours team member to confirm the dates before booking your travel. More info here!

Venues: The festival takes place across various venues in Havana, including theaters, clubs, and outdoor stages. Some popular venues include Teatro Mella, Teatro Nacional de Cuba, and Casa de la Cultura de Plaza. Check the festival schedule for a complete list of venues and performances, usually released one to two weeks before the festival.

Tickets: Due to the high demand, getting access to the festival can be challenging if you’re on your own. We recommend booking a curated festival tour with a well-crafted itinerary and concert selection by musicians and musicologists. Havana Music Tours provides an excellent selection of tours and tickets for the festival. For more information, visit havanamusictours.com.

Festival Highlights: The festival is packed with diverse performances, workshops, and jam sessions. Some of the festival’s must-see attractions include the national theater concerts, the Late Night Music at Casa de la Cultura, and the rumba shows in Jardines del Mella.

International Jazz Colloquium: In addition to the music performances, the festival also hosts an international jazz colloquium where scholars, musicians, and fans can gather to discuss jazz music and its impact on society.

Traveler Tips 

Navigating Havana can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. To help make your trip as smooth as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Accommodations: Since the festival takes place across various venues in Havana, staying in the city center (Vedado, Centro Habana, or Habana Vieja) is recommended to be closer to the action. Havana has plenty of hotels and guesthouses, but book in advance as the festival is a popular event. Havana Music Tours provides an excellent selection of accommodations. To find out more, email us at info@havanamusictours.com.

Getting Around: Havana is a bustling city with plenty of transportation options. Taxis and buses are readily available, but you can rent a classic car or bike to explore the city if you’re feeling adventurous. Make sure to check prices first with your local guide or host. You can download an offline map like Maps.me to help you walk around the city. 

Other Jazz Spots in Havana: While the Havana Jazz Festival is the main attraction, Havana is home to many other jazz spots worth checking out. Some popular ones include La Zorra y el Cuervo, a well-known jazz club that hosts nightly performances, and Café Miramar, a restaurant featuring live jazz music on weekends. Other new venues include Bar H, El Antonia, Fangio Habana, and El Ecléctico.

Here are some additional Cuba travel tips to make your trip to the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival even more enjoyable:

  1. Try the local food: Cuba is known for its delicious cuisine, and Havana is no exception. Make sure to try some of the local dishes, such as ropa vieja, arroz con pollo, and tostones. Street vendors also sell delicious snacks like churros and empanadas.
  2. Learn some Spanish: While many people in Havana speak English, knowing some Spanish will make your trip much more enjoyable. Not only will it help you communicate with locals, but it will also allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture fully.
  3. Explore Havana: While the festival is a highlight of any trip to Havana, there is so much more to see and do in the city. Take some time to explore Havana’s historic Old Town, visit the famous Malecon seafront, or take a tour of the city in a classic car. 
  4. Bring cash: While some places in Havana might accept credit cards, most don’t. Make sure to bring plenty of cash with you. We encourage you to consult with your local guide or host for more up-to-date information about money and currency exchanges in Cuba.

By following these tips and making the most of your time in Havana, you can fully experience the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival and everything else this vibrant city offers.

In conclusion, the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival is a must-visit event for any jazz lover or music enthusiast. With its talented performers, diverse venues, and lively atmosphere, the festival offers an unforgettable experience for visitors worldwide. By planning your trip in advance, taking advantage of local resources, and immersing yourself in the local culture, you can make the most of your trip to Havana and create memories that will last a lifetime.

More info on our TOUR PAGE:

Yes, you can travel to Cuba from the United States!

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

Traveling to Cuba from the United States can seem difficult, but it isn’t. Yes, you can travel to Cuba from the US. The hardest part is trying to find the correct and clear information. This blog is here to answer all those questions in a simplified way. You need four main things to travel to Cuba: Flight, Passport, Tourist Card, and OFAC General License (A reason to travel there). Technically, lounging at the beach and traveling as a “tourist” is not permitted.

Flights:

First, Flying to Cuba is the only way to get there from the United States. There are currently no authorized boats, cruises, or ferries. There are many flights from airlines like American Airlines, Southwest, and Jetblue. At the time of writing this blog, the most popular departure airports are Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Florida, and Miami (MIA), Florida, but there are also direct flights from NYC (JFK) with Jetblue. There are rumors of Delta and United returning soon. Maybe they will have flights from Atlanta again after or around March 2023.

Passports:

You and your group/family will need valid US Passports that do not expire within six months of returning from Cuba. You can find all the info you need about getting and renewing your passport on the Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html.

Tourist Cards:

Some people also like to call this a Cuban visa, but the official name is a Tourist Card. It is not special for the US, as almost everyone in the world needs a Cuba tourist card that isn’t a Cuban citizen or resident. There are two colors, green and red; from the US, you will only get a red one. Most of these are facilitated directly through the airlines and cost between $50-$100. Both Southwest and American Airlines use Cuba Travel Services: https://cubavisaservices.com/product/touristvisa-card/

You can have the tourist card mailed to you in advance (recommended) or get it at the airport the day you depart.

OFAC General Travel License

There are multiple available licenses for travel to Cuba like Religion, Journalism, and Humanitarian projects. As US travelers, citizens, residents, and all people under US jurisdiction have to fulfill general licensing rules from OFAC (The Office of Foreign Assets Control – AKA The Treasury Dept. of the US Gov.) Even flying from the US could constitute the need to obey the general licensing rules. You can read more about that in a blog we wrote explaining the differences: https://havanamusictours.com/can-americans-travel-to-cuba/.

You will need to understand this list of entities and avoid spending money with them:

Cuba Restricted List: https://www.state.gov/cuba-restricted-list/list-of-restricted-entities-and-subentities-associated-with-cuba-effective-january-8-2021/

Prohibited Accommodations 

This can all be easy for the person who likes to do their homework and learn new things, and likely difficult for some… but as a tour agency we can also give you peace of mind while traveling. Havana Music Tours takes care of the general licenses and ensures you don’t spend money on the restricted list. Make the trip easy, and consider taking one of our cultural tours.

 

For more info please check out our Frequently Asked Questions about Cuba Tours

 

Cuba Travel Updates

New updates as of June 8th, 2022, regarding Cuba travel from the United States. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), part of the Treasury Department, authorized group People to People and Professional Research general Travel Licenses for US travelers.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations to implement elements of the policy announced by the Administration on May 16, 2022 to increase support for the Cuban people. This rule authorizes group people-to-people educational travel to Cuba and removes certain restrictions on authorized academic educational activities, authorizes travel to attend or organize professional meetings or conferences in Cuba, removes the $1,000 quarterly limit on family remittances, and authorizes donative remittances to Cuba. These amendments also add or update several cross references.

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Office of Foreign Assets Control / 31 CFR Part 515 / Cuban Assets Control Regulations

In the following video, Chaz Chambers (Founder and Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways) explains what People-to-People Travel License is and the difference between that and Support for the Cuban people.

It is essential to mention that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) also dropped restrictions on commercial and charter flights to Cuba, including many other provinces.

Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel to stay updated about Cuba Travel Rules.

If you are looking to travel to Cuba, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or join us on our unique music and cultural tours.