The Best Cultural Month in Havana
As a visitor you obviously want to know the best time to come to Cuba. If you´re talking weather I’d say from mid-March through to mid-May. But if you´re a culture-vulture it’s got to be mid-October all the way through until mid-December and – for me, at least – it’s November that tops the lot.
October offers 10 full days of conferences, exhibitions and concerts from the wonderful Festival de Leo Brouwer; a festival dedicated to the more experimental and diverse in the world of music that has wowed Havana with performances from such luminaries as the late flamenco guitarist, Paco de Lucia and brilliant cellist Yo-Yo Ma – to name but two of hundreds. Brilliant stuff.
But then comes November which, this year, was absolutely choca. The Jo-jazz Competition is a small but vibrant affair – normally opening the month – and showcasing the best of up-and-coming young, jazz talent. Hot on its heels (well, toes) comes one of the jewels in the Cuban cultural calendar: the International Ballet Festival. This year saw wonders from – among many others – the New York City Ballet, the National Chinese Ballet, and troupes from Denmark and Puerto Rico.
Meantime, there were two extraordinary seminars and performances: one given by the great Irish musician and musicologist, Mick Moloney and his group; the other – an electro-acoustic treat of the highest calibre – from Spanish duo, reConvert Project. Oh, and I forgot that for the even more intellectual taste there was a head-bangingly complex (but very good) 3-day conference about Post dramatic theatre from the man who invented the term, celebrated theatre scholar Hans-Thies Lehmann. All this, as well as various special cultural weeks from both France and Italy.
Havana might be small but if you´ve interests that run a little outside of the box there’s a whole other world out there.