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Havana's Carnival: Rescuing Traditions

In addition to excellent beaches and exuberant nature, Cuba's tourist offers also include traditions passed from generation to generation for several centuries. That is the case of Havana's Carnival.

Every year, thousands of Cubans look forward to the traditional carnival festivities, a colorful and explosive show of allegoric floats and dancers.

The carnival is one of the country's oldest traditions that dates back several centuries ago, when black slaves held collective marches and dances to commemorate the days of Corpus Christi and the Epiphany.

Authorized by their Spanish masters, the slaves enjoyed a few days off once a year, and every January 6, on the day of Epiphany, they were allowed to reproduce the songs and dances they had brought from their African homelands.

Dates have changed with the passing of time, but the essence of carnivals has not, including the participation of groups of dancers such as La Jardinera, La Giraldilla de La Habana, Los Guaracheros de Regla, Los Marqueses de Atarés and El Alacrán.

Many of these groups have been founded in neighborhoods of the Cuban capital, where they are preparing the youngest generations, also represented at the carnival, to replace them.

Group of dancers.
Carnival charanga.
Enjoying the carnival.

Precisely, one whole day during the carnival is dedicated to children, with clowns, magicians, floats and sweets flooding the natural scenery of these festivities, Havana's Malecón (seawall), where at sunset, the beautiful sight of the blue Caribbean Sea compensates carnival goers for the summer heat.

Those taking part in Havana's carnival for the first time are often drawn by the blend of elements such as the intense color, traditional dances and Cuban musical rhythms - usually accompanied by conga drums and the high-pitched sound of Chinese trumpets.

Every year, spectators become active participants during the festivities, since, according to many, the sound of the music performed by Cuba's most popular bands and their catchy choruses are a call to dance, no matter where people come from or whether they are Cuban or foreigners.

The parades along the Malecón also include the so-called "Muñecones" (huge figures representing the most varied characters), in addition to "faroleros", dancers who carry a multicolored accessory resembling a streetlight, making it rotate constantly.

As a complement, dishes from Cuban cuisine and refreshing beverages, especially very cold beer and genuine Cuban rum, as well as the natural scenery offered by the Malecón, blend to provide a much-expected choice to both Cubans and foreign visitors.

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