Bespoke Cuban Holidays for the Discerning Traveller

Bespoke Music & Dance Holidays in Cuba

Cuba’s wealth of musical heritage is embraced by lovers of melody and sound around the world. Richly percussive, melodic, romantic, and seductive, its life-affirming evocative tunes enchant devotees through the hot and humid tropical nights.

From soulful son to emotive bolero, memorable jazz to exquisite classical, and contemporary descarga (jam session) to heartfelt nueva trova, Cuba is a hot house of virtuosos performing passionate chords, mournful ballads, ingenious orchestral endeavours, and chilled, contemporary grooves.

Son, a popular dance music, was born in Cuba’s Oriente, combining bongos, maracas and the Cuban tres guitar. Today, authentic son conjunto groups can be heard in the island’s eastern capital of Santiago. Listen to headlining bands at the popular Casa de la Trova or Casa de la Música at night, and learn to play key percussion instruments by day. Try your hand at the maraca, güiro, shekere, bongos and clave in a session of improvisation before moving on to the larger tumbadora drums. While in Santiago play the haunting corneta china, a lead instrument in Santiago’s carnival conga.

Further east, in Baracoa, witness a countryside performance of Nengón and Kiribá, early musical genres that predate son and emerged in Guantánamo province.

Swoon over the romantic and sultry bolero at the dusky den of El Gato Tuerto in Havana, and admire the melancholic melodies with Buena Vista Social Club star Omara Portuondo. Bolero fans can time their trip for the annual June nationwide Festival de Bolero.

In Havana, a trio of churches offer classical music concerts. The Ars Long Early Music Ensemble is one of the most well known groups in the capital performing in these venues.

Singer-songwriters of nueva trova repeatedly win audiences in Cuba with their emotive lyrics. Packing the music halls are trova titans Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez, and occasionally Pedro Luis Ferrer whose acerbic wit and poetic and critical lyrics bring the house down.

If rock rocks your world, look out for well-known band Los Kents and new Havana venue Submarino Amarillo with its homage to the Beatles. Jazz fans can head to Havana’s subterranean La Zorra y el Cuervo for talented pianist Roberto Fonseca, or a multitude of venues for maestro of the ivories Miguelito Núñez, as well as attending the annual December jazz festival.

Esencia Experiences can also help you see Cuba’s new music-makers: pop duo Buena Fe for its melodic lyrics; singer-songwriter Danay Suárez, with her large vocal range, who also collaborates with the rousing piano techniques of Roberto Fonseca; talented trovador Tony Avila; rock, funk and hip-hop fusion band Qva Libre with their shifting sounds; and the lauded performances of fusion maestro X Alfonso.



  • Day 1 Classical, Havana
  • Day 2 Bolero and jazz, Havana
  • Day 3 Fusion and contemporary sounds, Havana
  • Day 4 Nueva Trova, Havana
  • Day 5 Percussion classes and Casa de la Trova Santiago
  • Day 6 Percussion classes Casa de las Tradiciones, Santiago
  • Day 7 Kiribá and Nengón in Baracoa, Casa de la Trova, Baracoa


In addition to a rich heritage in music and dance, Cuba also boasts incredible history in art and culture. Be sure to take a look at one of our 7 day art and culture tours of Havana.

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