Festivals & Carnivals in Cuba

Experience Cuba's vibrant festivals and carnivals: Year-round list

Colorful festival celebration in vibrant street scene.

Cuba is a country where there is always something going on in terms of cultural events, because this has been the country’s political line since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959: to make culture accessible to the greatest number and to disseminate it as often as possible.

So you will find many cultural festivals of all kinds, especially film festivals. But Cuba is also the country of festivities and there are unmissable events such as the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba which takes place every summer.

Here is a selection of events not to be missed during your stay in Cuba.

Events in Cuba in January

Premio Literarío – La Havana

Organized by the Casa de las Américas in Havana in mid-January. This prestigious literary prize brings together South American-Canadian authors of all genres: poetry, essays, theatre, novels, Caribbean literature, etc.

Semana de la cultura trinitaria – Trinidad 

It is held at the beginning of January. Concerts, exhibitions, conferences throughout the city. All these events revolve around culture: handicrafts, contempo-rain art, Cuban traditions, Cuban music…

Cuba Events in February

Feria internacional del libro de la Havana

Annual event whose last edition took place from 12 to 22 February 2015. This book fair was dedicated to Indian culture.

Semana de la cultura Camagüeyana

Every year during the first week of February, the city authorities organise this cultural event to pay tribute to the city’s founders. It is an opportunity to highlight the socio-cultural, scientific and technical development of the region. The activities are scattered all over the city.

Cuba Events in March

Cinematographic Cristics – Camagüey

This important festival takes place in the second half of March. It is often the Cuban echo of the Festival of New Latin American Cinema. More than 150 films, including many Cuban productions, are screened there.

Festival del Són – Santiago de Cuba

Third week of March.
A city of music par excellence, the local authorities organise every year during the third week of March, the festival of the són, the musical genre that, among other things, gave birth to salsa and which defines Afro-Caribbean music more than any other. Cafés and other traditional hangouts come alive and the street follows!

Cuba Festivals and Carnivals
santiago de cuba

Cuba Events in April

Festival internacional del Cine pobre – Gibara 

  • +53 7 838 3657
  • festivalcinepobre@icaic.cu

The festival is held every year in April. It celebrated its 12th edition in 2014 on the screens of the Jiba cinema (Calixto García Park). Organised by the ICAIC (Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry), the event brings together independent authors on the fringes of the international production system.

Festival de la huella de España – La Havana

Organized every year in the second half of April by the Cuban Ministry of Culture and the Gran Teatro de La Habana. On the program: dance, music, lyric art, poetry and theater. To immerse yourself in the heart of the Spanish artistic roots that have nourished Cuba.

Tivoli Festival – Santiago de Cuba

If you’re in Santiago in mid-April, don’t miss the Tivoli festival: a large popular market where everything is sold for several days in the streets of the neighborhood (crafts, cigars and rum in particular) and many stands representing local businesses are located.

Cuba Events in May

French Film Festival – La Havana

Organized since 1992 by the Cinémania association of director and producer Christophe Barratier and by Nouredine Essadi, with the constant support of the Alliance française de Cuba and the French embassy in Cuba, the festival is today considered as the great annual meeting of French culture in Cuba.

A popular success that is not to be denied, with more than 100,000 spectators each year. After Isabelle Huppert in 2012, the guests of honour were Sandrine Bonnaire and Pierre Etaix in 2013 and, in 2014, François-Xavier Demaison and Pierre Niney made the trip to Cuba for the festival. present their film Comme des Frères. In 2015, the guest of honour at the festival was none other than the famous director Costa-Gavras.

International Festical of the poetry – La Havana

Organized by the Union of Cuban Writers at the Convento de San Francisco de Asís, this festival  takes place in May. Discovery of new authors in particular. During the last editions  of the Festival have participated authors from Argen-tine, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, from Palestine, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

  • scritores@uneac.co.cu

Romerías de Mayo  – Holguín

A week-long festival, at the beginning of May, based on art and culture (dance, painting, literature). A procession joins the Loma de la Cruz, on 3 May, in memory of the construction by the monk Antonio Alegria of the cross overlooking the city in 1790.


Cuba Events in June

Camagüey Carnival – Camagüey

The festivities last from the end of June to the beginning of July. As in the whole country, the atmosphere is guaranteed between the floats, parades, costumes and the inevitable rum that flows…in the sea…

Internation festival de Boleros de Oro – La Havana

The festival, created in 1986 by the composer and musicologist José Loyola Fernández, is considered the most prestigious bolero event organized on this side of the Atlantic. It takes place at the end of June.

Fiestas Sanjuaneras – Trinidad

Over 3 days at the end of June. Every year, Trinidad organizes its carnival, the fiestas Sanjuaneras. A notable feature is the cavalcade of horses and riders in the streets of the city.

Jornada Cucalambeana – Las Tunas

Every year, at the end of June, the city pays homage to the local poet Juan Cristóbal Nápoles Fajardo (1829-1862). El Cucalambé, his nickname, was known for his consummate art of decimas, a rhyming poem systematically composed of ten verses. His works will inspire a great number of sound singers.

Cuba Events in July

Havana Carnival – La Habana

The carnival introduced by the Spaniards has established itself as a popular national holiday. Integrating African traditions, both in music and dance, it is today one of the central elements of Cuban cultural identity.

Between 15 July and 15 August, the Malecón of Havana vibrates every weekend to the rhythm of music, dances and float parades. The comparsas (large popular troupes) are having a blast. The public, installed on bleachers or standing along the avenues, enjoy the show.
Once the parade is over, the spectators take their turn on the avenues.
Beer and rum are flowing, so many generous stimulants for good humour!

Carnival of Santiago de Cuba

Last week of July.
It is the most famous, the most sensual, the most popular carnival in Cuba and, perhaps, in the Caribbean. It marks, originally, the end of the sugar zafra (harvest) in the region. The festivities take place during the last week of July and more particularly between 24 and 26 July (count 5 CUC for a grandstand seat).

Caribbean Festival

In Santiago de Cuba, early July.
This festival coincides with the anniversary period of the foundation of the city of Santiago de Cuba, which in July 2015 blew out its 500 candles. Each year a different country is honoured. Many of the city’s cultural hotspots take part in this event. July 9, the closing date of the event (which lasts almost a week), corresponds to the Caribbean Day of Fire, in other words, Devil’s Day.

Cuba Events in August

Holguin Carnival

Great moment in perspective, usually during the third week of August. Parade, costumes and music will be playing in the city with a contagious energy and a communicative good mood. Let yourself be carried away by the atmosphere and the rhythm, just to taste the joys of the fiesta cubana.

International Rap Habana Hip Hop Festival – La Havana

In the second week of August, Havana welcomes rappers and hip-hop singers from Cuba and elsewhere for a week of urban music and good atmosphere.

Cuba Events in September

Festival Nacional del Teatro de Camagüey

Daily performances in all the city’s theatres one week in early September.
All genres are represented, from puppet shows to tragi-comedy with actors who compete in skill. Admission is free but places are limited. If you’re there on these dates, plan to be there early…

Cuba Events in October

Festical de teatro de la Habana

At the end of October, Havana receives groups of artists in the different theatres of the city. Since its first edition in 1980, the festival has brought together all the trends of the contemporary scene.

  • +53 7 833 4581
  • organizacion@cubaescena.cult.cu

Fiesta de la cultura Ibero americana

Event focusing on Ibero-American heritage and culture. Intellectuals and artists will meet in the second half of October to discuss and present their work. Ask at the Casa de la Cultura for information about the programme.

Cuba Events in November

Festival de raices Africanas Wemilere – Guanabacoa

End of November in Guanabacoa, 12 km east of Havana.
The event focuses on folklore traditions (music and dance) and traditional African arts, which allows a better understanding of the importance of African culture in the Cuban universe.
Prestigious artists have been born there, such as Ernesto Lecuona, Rita Montaner and Bola de Nieve.

Cuba Events in December

Feria Internacional de Artesania (FIART)

The Biennial Fair reveals a wide panorama of traditional, indigenous and contemporary Cuban handicrafts: exhibitions of furniture, artistic objects, workshops. Event open to Cuban and foreign craftsmen. Prizes awarded by UNESCO and the Cuban Cultural Property Fund.

  • +53 7 860 9661
  • fcbc@fcbc.cult.cu

Festival Interactional del Nuevo Cine LatinoAmericano – La Havana

Since 1979, during the first fortnight of December, Havana has welcomed producers, directors and actors from Latin America for a resolutely contemporary programme.

Fiesta a la Guantanamera – Guantánamo

Early December in the city of Guantánamo. Ideal for those who wish to initiate or deepen el changüí, la tumba francesa and Franco-Haitian folklore. Theme also focused on the Caribbean.

Havana International Jazz Festival – La Havana

Since 1978, this festival has played a major role in the world of Latin American jazz, as much for the technical level as for the musical qualities of the invited artists.

San Lázaro – Trinidad

December 17th.
We celebrate San Lazaro, patron saint of the poor. Numerous processions in the city centre.

Santa Bárbara – Trinidad

December 4th.
This is one of the major health events in the city. One celebrates Santa Barbara (Chango), the most popular of the Orishas who govern fire, feast and all the pleasures of life. Numerous processions in the downtown area.