Matanzas Festival of Origins, Cuba

by Lexa Pennington / Sep 10, 2013 /
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The Matanzas Festival of Origins in Santiago de Cuba takes place from 18-20 of September and covers a huge range of events, from seminars for academics to street parades and dancing for tourists. It is an opportunity for visitors curious about Cuba's diverse ethnic heritage to learn more. For academics, African, Chinese, Haitian, Spanish and Caribbean influences on Cuban culture are discussed during seminars, with costumed parades, pulsating drum rhythms, street parties, cultural performances and lots of beer, rum and delicious food for tourists – and hopefully for the academics, too! No one can put on a festival like the Cubans, and they welcome this one in particular as it gives them a real chance to show the world just what they are made of. Come to this festival and have a whale of a time - and learn a little too.

 

Santiago de Cuba

 

How to get there

Well, you could try your luck at swimming the Florida Straits to get there, but for the less adventurous, Santiago is served by Antonio Maceo Airport and there are direct flights from Paris-Orly and Madrid. From UK destinations, there are connecting flights from the US or the Caribbean, if you fly via First Choice. Cuba is a popular tourist destination so the flights are quite frequent and easy to arrange.  Santiago de Cuba has an amazing climate with scarcely any seasonal differences, so whether you visit in September for the Matanzas Festival of Origins or at any other time of the year, the temperature will be a few degrees on either side of 30° Celsius. Rainfall is very low and there is no rainy season. This is a large part of what makes it such a popular place for holidays – very few other spots in the world can guarantee such pleasant weather year round.

 

What to expect from the festival:

 

 

 

 

What to do

The Matanzas Festival of Origins is an incredible spectacle in itself and if you want to really get to understand what makes Cuba tick, this is where you will find it. Santiago contains a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Citadel of San Pedro de la Roca, which is described on the list as ‘the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles’. It certainly is a spectacular fortress, its walls running along the coast and watchtowers looking out to sea. It is a perfect reminder of the past of Cuba, which has been a strategic post off the American coast ever since the Spanish took it over in 1514. Its architecture, language, and food all show the influences of the Spanish and the French, as well as the Africans who were taken there as slaves.

 

The Citadel of San Pedro de la Roca, Cuba

The Citadel of San Pedro de la Roca

 

You only need to look at a list of well-known Santiago residents to see that music is very important here and the musical heritage of the city is well represented at the Festival both in formal concerts and in the great street parties that go on for the whole three days. If you have always wanted to explore Cuba, the Matanzas Festival of Origins will share what it is all about.