We don’t quite know how but we’re already halfway through August signalling that the end of summer is near. And that’s put us in the mood for an impromptu Cuba trip, especially if there are local events to add to the good summer vibe feeling we all long for. Where to be in Cuba this August? We’ll tell you!
And because at CubaCasa we’re all about pairing amazing Cuban experiences with the right casa particular in Havana, we’ll give you insider tips on where to stay too.
Keep reading for your perfect guide to Cuban summer glory in the last stretch of August, so that you can make the most of these last two weeks and grab summer before it slips through your fingers…wherever you’re in Cuba, you’ll have a great time no doubt, but even better if you know what to look out for!
What’s on in Havana this August
Last week we told you about Cuba’s international hip hop festival in Varadero. This week Havana’s annual carnival is in full swing, having kicked off on Sunday with a flurry of parades and comparsas extending all the way until 28th August. Keep reading for all the details!
Havana Carnival (Carnaval de la Habana) – 18th to 28th August
Right now Havana’s famous carnival is in full flair but this year the celebration is extra special as it marks the 500th anniversary of the city’s foundation so the expectations are as big as the festivity itself, with a programme that has been expanded in comparison with previous year’s editions.
As in previous editions, the scenic Malecon will be the centre stage of it all, where habaneros and tourists will find food and drink stalls dotting the 8-kilometre-stretch as well as makeshift stages where live bands will perform and wooden rows of seats for audiences to sit in and enjoy the parades from a better perspective.
Fifteen floats (representing each of Havana’s 15 municipalities) and 28 comparsas (a group of singers, dancers and musicians that accompany a float during a carnival parade) will add colour and music to this August’s Havana Carnival, with the participation of a long list of salsa bands, rumba bands and other alternative acts. Carnival action peaks over the weekend with the last parade planned for Tuesday 28th August with the Children’s Carnival, made up of 12 floats and 18 comparsas.
Joaquin Betancourt’s Jazz Band in concert at Teatro Mella
Also in Vedado, only this time not in the Malecon stretch, one of Cuba’s most talented contemporary jazz bands (led by accomplished violinist, composer and orchestra director, Joaquin Betancourt) will take to the stage for a night of remembrance paying homage to “el barbaro del ritmo”, Benny Moré, also known as the Cuban king of Mambo. It’s on at Teatro Mella (Calle Línea # 657 e/ A y B, Vedado) on 24th and 25th August. Don’t miss it!
Which casa particular in Havana to stay at?
We’ve partly answered the question of where to be in Cuba this August, now if you opt for Havana, you have quite a few options on where to stay for close proximity to nightlife action and festivities this month.
If you want to be close to the carnival action, we recommend staying in a casa particular in Vedado, the Havana neighbourhood (part of the Plaza municipality) also known as the city’s most bohemian corner and the heart of downtown or Centro Habana, part of which also faces the Malecon seawall where all the carnival action will unfold.
If you want to be close to the Malecon and by close we mean, literally steps away (less than five-minutes’ walk) Casa Malecon Colonial in Centro Habana is a great option or for a little bit more opt for Casa Suite Malecon, which feels more like a boutique hotel than a B&B and which is also in Centro Habana.
In Vedado and for cheaper room rates (35 CUC per night) you can stay at the stunning Casa Raquel Vedado in Calzada, a short walk away from the Malecon, or if you really want to go all out and stay at a house with rooftop pool, you should seriously consider Penthouse Artedel, also in Vedado.
But we’ve got other good options when it comes to finding the right casa particular in Havana‘s Vedado district.
Local citywide parties in Cuba this August (by region)
So, yes, Havana kind of takes centre stage this August when it comes to where to be in Cuba to soaking up traditional events (the Havana carnival) and culture (its mambo legacy). But there’s more to enjoy in the way of parties if you’re elsewhere in Cuba this August.
What follows is a breakdown of Cuba’s regional “fiestas populares” (which can be loosely translated as street parties) as they are celebrated in each province and within each province’s main cities.
If you plan to be in Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba’s “Fiestas de San Luis” kick off later in the month and are celebrated between 29th Auguts and 1st September. This festivity takes place in the municipality of San Luis de Las Enramadas, found some 19km north of the capital city of Santiago.
If you plan to be in in Villa Clara
There are various locations in Villa Clara that celebrate street parties this month. Unfortunately, Santa Clara is not one of them, but you can still stay in a Santa Clara casa particular before moving on to explore other of the following Villa Clara municipalities on a day trip to better soak up the province’s culture. We list all of Villa Clara’s fiestas populares this month all below:
- Caibarién – the municipality of Caibarién celebrates their annual popular parties from 23rd to 25thAugust
- Camajuaní – the charming town of Camajuaní gets their party going between 29thand 31st August 20, 2019
- Ranchuelo– founded on 1734, Ranchuelo has colonial allure with added enchantment and celebrates their street festivities between 30th and 31st August
If you plan to be in Matanzas
There are two things to look forward to if you’re staying in Matanzas this second half of August. The first is a jazz festival in Varadero and the second fiestas populares.
Jazz & Son Josone Varadero
This jazz festival in Varadero, now coming to its second edition will be celebrated in Cuba’s premier beach destination from 22nd to 25th August. This mega concert that spans days takes place in Parque Josone, with many a casa particular in Varadero being located nearby, most notably Casa de Papo, just a short minute’s walk, literally right next to the park. Others casas particulares within a stone’s throw of the jazz festival action include Hostal 4608 and a little bit further, Hostal El Villareño and Casa Karelia y Victor. You can see them all and their distance from Parque Josone in our map of Varadero casas particulares.
Fiestas populares in Matanzas
Taking place in the capital city of Matanzas, the “fiestas populares” here will be celebrated between 23 and 25th August, giving way to a frenzy of street concerts and live music, a great excuse for exploring beyond your casa particular in Varadero and getting to know the heart of Matanzas.
Where to be based in Cuba this August
If this list of activities doesn’t quite quench your thirst for Cuban summer adventures, check back this space as we update it with more to come as more events are announced.