Cuba’s Famous Christmas Festival
Christmas in Cuba is one of the country’s biggest celebrations of the year, and one tiny Cuban town throws the biggest celebration of all. On most days, a visit to town of Remedios (about a four hour drive from Havana) is a quiet one. However, when Las Parrandas de Remedios rolls around, the unassuming town transforms. Las Parrandas de Remedios is a week long Christmas festival. The festival culminates on Christmas Eve with a exciting night of celebration.
How it Began
The festival is one of Cuba’s oldest. It dates back all the way to 1820. Las Parrandas was born out of a young priest’s attempt to get people out of their beds and into the church pews. Frustrated with the lack of numbers showing up for Christmas masses, he sent children out to make as much noise as possible in the streets with pots and pans, maracas, and horns. People were drawn from their homes and into the church that year. After, a new tradition was born. Now, Las Parrandas is a household name for those celebrating Christmas in Cuba.
The Festival Today
Over the years, the simple noise makers turned into full-fledged bands and giant firework displays. Now, each Christmas Eve the streets of Remedios fill with locals and visitors alike. People gather to witness the spectacular display of artwork, music, dance, costumes, lights and fireworks.
A competitive edge is part of what inspires such a spectacle in Remedios. Starting in the 19th century, the town split itself up into two competing barrios (neighborhoods) – El Carmen and San Salvador. Each side goes head to head to create the most magnificent light-up float and perform the best music. Locals on each side spend months secretely preparing costumes, decorations, hand-rockets, and more. Then, the night of Christmas Eve, the entire crowd judges which side deserves bragging rights for the next year.
How to Experience it For Yourself
If you want to celebrate Christmas in Cuba, let The Educational Adventures Company take you there. Las Parrandas de Remedios is just one of several highlights of Educational Adventure’s holiday tour, Navidad en Cuba. This 13-day tour gives travelers the unique opportunity to be in Cuba for two of its largest celebrations of the year – Christmas in Remedios and New Year’s Eve in Havana. In between, travelers experience the people, music, food and places that define the vibrant and radiant culture of Cuba.
An Unforgettable Holiday Experience
The holiday tour begins in Havana with activities that introduce Cuban culture and highlight the architectural beauty and history of the country’s capital. After, travelers head to the breathtaking town of Viñales. There, they enjoy incredible landscapes, tobacco farms, and an organically grown meal with an epic view. Following, travelers stay in Santa Clara for Las Parrandas de Remedios before heading to Trinidad for more history, natural beauty, and music. The second half of the tour discovers the rich towns of Cienfuegos and Matanzas before wrapping up in Havana. Travelers go out with a bang at a rooftop New Year’s Eve celebration.
If you want to learn more about the Christmas in Cuba holiday tour, explore the complete itinerary. Get in touch with The Educational Adventures Company folks, who specialize in legal travel to Cuba and pride themselves on their unique Cuban experiences and warm customer service.