November 2015

My Beautiful Havana


What's On Havana Cuba's cultural & events guide

We include guest features from around Cuba, a detailed Havana Events Listing as well as our reviews of the best restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels and private accommodation.



‘Sensual, surreal, and seductive, Havana is simply sensational. To call the city “unique” is no cliché. Arguably Latin America’s best-preserved capital city, Havana is one of the oldest, grandest and most seductive cities in the Americas. It glories in historic import.’
Christopher Baker, author of the Moon Guide to Cuba

My beautiful Havana (La Habana) has a major birthday coming up. The half millennial celebration, which will take place in 2019, will mark the pinnacle and possibly finale to the career of Eusebio Leal, the historian of the city. It will mark the end of this restoration period and the beginning of a new chapter.

This year is Birthday number 497. While that may not have the same ring to it as 500, it is significant nonetheless and a chance to take a step back to see just how quickly Havana is changing before our eyes as a mixture of sensitive state-sponsored renovation and a new wave of private entrepreneurship combine to put a spring back in the step of
Cuba’s iconic capital city.

The Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana was founded on November 16, 1519, with the first mass being held under a ceiba tree on the former domain of the aboriginal chief Habaguanex. Today, El Templete bears witness to that event and on the night before, at 11pm, thousands of people walk three times round the ceiba tree and ask for a wish.

This month’s issue is simply dedicated to and focused on My Beautiful Havana. What better way to start than with the simply stunning photography of Marius Jovaisa who has captured Havana magnificently from the air? His book Unseen Cuba is a must for anyone with a love for this island.

In other articles in this month’s issue we explore Havana though its sights, smells, obsessions and idiosyncrasies, its people, their quirks and its colors. I may not ever really be a Habanero but this is my home and I love this city. Many Happy Returns.

If you have the energy, what better way to see the City than running around it (twice) in Havana’s annual marathon, the Marabana, which will take place on November 15. This year promises to to be a major sporting event with the largest number of runners ever.

November is packed with events for music lovers. The JoJazz festival for young jazz musicians takes place from November 19-22 and is an opportunity to see Cuba’s best up-and-coming talents. And if classical music is your thing, don’t miss the International Havana Contemporary Music Festival from November 14-22—a good opportunity to get
up-to-date with the latest trends in contemporary concert music.

Salsa lovers will have a field day, or rather a whole week, to get acquainted with salsa through classes, concerts and competitions in Baila en Cuba, taking place November 22-27. The Patria Grande Festival (November 13-18), a meeting of Latin American rock musicians, will be held in Havana, Pinar del Río, Sancti Spíritus & Villa Clara. Don’t miss the opening concert at the Tribuna Antiimperialista with the performances of all participating bands.

The Team

In this Issue


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