No matter what they are called, the parrandas, carnivals, charangas or romerías, these are folkloric festivals of great importance for the identity of the Cuban. Some of the festivities have been taking place for centuries, consolidating as historical festive events.
We accompany you to discover the best celebrations of the island of Cuba.
La Jornada Cucalambeana is a rural cultural celebration held in the city of Las Tunas. The event has been present in Las Tunas since 1964 and has functioned as a vehicle for the cultural expression of the rural area of the island. In addition, the name of the celebration functions as a commemoration to Juan Cristóbal Nápoles y Fajardo, who is better known as “El Cucalambé“.
The event aims to promote and develop the cultural activities that have characterized the rural area of the island. In this way, the city offers musical events, Creole folk foods, cultural events such as dances, beauty contests and artistic expressions. In addition, the event intends to position itself as a tourist attraction for locals and foreigners. Over the past few years, it has welcomed an incredible wave of foreigners to the city.
La Jornada Cucalambeana is a celebration that occurs at the end of June and the beginning of July. For the year, the tentative date to celebrate Cucalambeana Day is from June 30 to July 3.
Romerías de Mayo is a celebration of religious and artistic character held in the city of Holguín. When the city was founded a cross was built on one of the highest points with the motive of protecting the city from catastrophes and diseases. Today it is one of the most touristic points of the city and the epicenter for the celebration of pilgrimages.
This celebration is a great event that tries to promote all young artists in the country. Every year, thousands of artists come to Holguín to participate in the dozens of activities held by the city. Among the most outstanding events are the opening parade, dances and traditional Cuban cultural expressions, visual projections, symposiums, presentations of music in various genres, performing dances, screenings of films and many other cultural and artistic activities.
Romerías de Mayo take place during the month of May, usually from May 2 to May 8.
The San Juan Camagüeyano is a religious culturaltype celebration held in thecity of Camagüeyy. The event has been part of the city since colonial times, when the festivities were charged with a deep religious sentiment that was celebrated in the streets with processions. Later, the festivities began to be held by families with greater purchasing power, with large dances and parties.
Today, despite having religious events, the festival has become a celebration with great cultural influence. The event is replete with dance and music performances. Parades and processions are also elements of great importance, which are accompanied by beautiful floats and music trucks. The event also incorporates bullfighting andfood fairs.
The festivities of San Juan Camagüeyano take place in the month of June, generally from the 24th to the 29th of that month.
Parrandas are the festivities par excellence in Cuba, almost all cities and towns have their own festivals. This one in particular is celebrated in the city of Chambas, province of Ciego de Avila in the central zone of the island.The parrandas in Chambas began to emerge in the year 1935, since the locals wished to incorporate festivities similar to those held in the adjacent areas of the city. Due to their cultural contribution, in 2001 they obtained the “Memoria Viva” award.
Like many other Cuban parrandas, the village is divided into two sides. In Chambas, the sectors are divided into the Gallo and the Gavilan. The callo group carries a red flag with the image of a rooster, while the Gavilan sector has a blue flag with the image of the respective animal. Both sectors battle each other with various cultural manifestations, including dances, music, large decorated floats, costumes and fireworks displays.
Although the festivities used to be held in February, today they are celebrated in August to count on the participation of the students of the area after their academic duties.
The village of Bejucal, located in theMayabeque province is one of the places where parrandas are most fervently celebrated. The charangas began to be celebrated since the slave era, being carried out when the Misa del Gallo takes place on the island. During this day, the slaves had a day off that allowed them to celebrate with different cultural expressions. Since then, the town has been divided in two to compete with each other.
As usual in the parrandas or carnivals of the island of Cuba, the towns are divided in two to perform a varied sample of cultural manifestations. In Bejucal, the sectors are divided into two teams: The blue side with the alacran and the red side with the gallo. Both sides compete against each other with music, comparsas, scenery, themed floats, costumes and fireworks.
The Charangas de Bejucal take place every year on December 24.
The Parrandas de Punta Alegre are known for being one of the oldest celebrations on the island, with a tradition of more than 100 years. The festivities were inspired by the Parrandas de Remedios, which were brought to Punta Alegre by Marcelino Silva and Teodosio Pérez. Since then, the tradition has deeply permeated the identity of the locals.
The locality of Punta Alegre is divided into two bands during the parrandas: El Yeso and La Salina. These names arise due to the economic activity of each of the sectors. In addition, as is customary in the parrandas, each of the sides takes on a distinctive color, El Yeso takes the blue and La Salina the red. Both sides proceed to perform a repertoire of dances, songs, music and presentations that attempts to suffocate the opposing team. In addition, the main features of the festivities are the use of decorated and illuminated floats and the fireworks show.
The Parrandas de Punta Alegre are celebrated during the first weeks of December.
The Parrandas de Camajuaní have a long history dating back to 1894, although many locals indicate that some cultural displays were already taking place as early as 1890. The festivities were mainly influenced by the parrandas remedianas.
From the beginning, Camajuaní was divided into two bands, a common characteristic during the parrandas, each acquiring an animal to differentiate between them.
At the beginning of the parrandas, Camajuaní is divided into two sectors that are identified with the image of the chivo and the sapo. Both sides perform a large repertoire of cultural manifestations, which involve expressions through the dance, the music, dance of flags, pyrotechnics and of course, the decorated floats. The floats have a large number of images and lights and usually follow a specific theme. The floats are, par excellence, the most eye-catching attraction of the festivities.
The parrandas of Camajuaní are celebrated every year during the month of March.
The Havana Carnival is one of the most outstanding celebrations in the whole island. Although carnival parties have been celebrated in the city since the arrival of Europeans and Africans, these were limited celebrations, only held by a select group. It was not until 1895 when they began to be officially held.
The celebration of the carnival in the capital of Cuba is a meeting point for a great number of cultural manifestations. Every year, comparsas and carrozas cross the city’s malecon to entertain people. The congas and salsa are the prevailing rhythms, although urban genres are also heard. The colorful costumes and the illuminated floats are the point of interest for visitors who watch from the grandas the whole spectacle.
The Havana Carnival will be taking place from approximately July 18 to 27.
The Parrandas de Remedios, also known as parrandas remedianas, is par excellence the most important and well-known parranda of the whole island. In addition, it has served as an example and inspiration for the parrandas of neighboring areas. The festivities have been celebrated in the town of Remedios since the early nineteenth century, but it was not until 1870 when they began to take place in a more structured and organized way.
During the celebration, the people of Remedios are divided into two bands that fight against each other to proclaim themselves as the winning side.El Carmen takes on the image of the Gavilan, while the San Salvador sector is identified with the figure of the Gallo. Both sides fight each other with cultural manifestations such as dances, music and fireworks. However, what steals all the attention are the gigantic colorful floats and completely covered with lights that illuminate the entire firmament of the town.
The Parrandas de Remedias are always held from December 24 until the early morning of the 25th.
The carnivals in the city of Santiago de Cuba are par excellence the biggest universal festival of the whole island. The carnival is related to the festival of Los Mamarrachos, which was first mentioned in the records in the year 1757. However, commemorative community festivals began to be held in the city almost a century earlier.
The Carnival of Santiago de Cuba has a great number of events, some of them being the Aquatic Carnival and the Children’s Carnival, also known as the Children’s Rumbón. However, the main attention goes to the Rumbón Mayor, as the official carnival is known. The whole city is filled with food stands and the comparsas and carrozas occupy all the public’s attention. The congas and the paseos are the main expressions during the festivities that, with the colorful costumes and the illuminated floats, turn the carnival into the best show on the island of Cuba.
The Santiago de Cuba Carnival will be held from approximately Wednesday, July 21 to Tuesday, July 27.