JANUARY 16-21, 2019


ABOUT the havana jazz festival

The Havana Jazz Festival is one of Cuba’s most well-known music events featuring the island’s hottest jazz musicians. Born in 1978, the 2019 rendition will be the 34th Annual Havana Jazz Festival. Get ready to enjoy jazz performances all over the city, meet and greet musicians, and take in private performances of popular Cuban musicians.


Cuba Educational Travel (CET) is a leader in cultural travel to Cuba. CET unlocks the best of Cuba by providing access to the country’s top artists, academics, tastemakers, and cultural figures. CET’s tailor-made programs enable clients to experience Cuba’s vibrant culture and gain a deeper understanding of the island, while ensuring full compliance with all U.S. regulations.  

CET has been on the frontlines of cultural collaboration, helping to bring Cubans to the U.S. and Americans to Cuba. From Yoga retreats to concerts to dance performances, CET has wide-ranging experience and contacts. Recent highlights include organizing the Diplo Major Lazer concert in Havana, which drew a crowd of over 500,000 people and bringing Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, the country’s top dance group, to perform at the Latin Grammys.


By leveraging this expertise and curated travel capabilities, Cuba Educational Travel offers a product that is unrivaled. Our strong presence on the island and in important cultural circles gives us unparalleled access and knowledge. This combined with the beauty and intrigue of Cuba and its people make for truly unforgettable experiences.


Wednesday, January 16

Arrive to Havana. (pending flight information)

Check-in at accommodations. 

Enjoy a discussion and private performance by Banda Ancha, a jazz band led by Yissy Garcia, an amazingly talented young percussionist. Banda Ancha calls its style “high-speed Cuban jazz,” a mixture of different rhythms like funk, reggae and samba, with Afro-Cuban influences.

Welcome dinner at Paladar San Cristobal. Located in the heart of Central Havana, this paladar has a reputation of excellence in both atmosphere and local cuisine. Enjoy great food while the local takes you back to the 1940s and 50s.

Thursday, January 17

Walking tour of the Old City. Wander through the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana as well as important monuments. See the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719. Visit the Plaza Vieja, surrounded by sumptuous houses of the Havana aristocracy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit Plaza de la Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana.

Lunch at Doña Eutimia paladar. Famous for its ropa vieja and frozen mojitos, this cozy paladar made Newsweek Magazine’s top 100 restaurants in the world in 2012. The restaurant’s location in the beautiful cathedral square is unbeatable.

Free time

Discussion and cocktails with a family of artists, at AltaMira art loft. A few years ago, Edel Bordón and his family embarked on a journey to establish an art collective in their apartment building. Spearheaded by his wife Yamilé Pardo, the family created the AltaMira art space, which features an exhibition and workspace off of the main lobby and collaborations with neighbors.

Dinner reservation at La Guarida paladar, famous not only for its delectable dining, but also as the location for the film Strawberry and Chocolate. It is housed on the third floor of a large, old town house carrying the charming ambience of the early 1900s. Concordia e Gervasio y Lealtad, no. 418 altos, Centro Habana (not included – to be paid on the ground)

Attend the Havana Jazz Festival Activities.

Friday, January 18

Enjoy a private performance by Yassek Manzano and his musicians, with his trio Yassek, a Cuban trumpeter endowed with a virtuosity recognized in Cuba and other latitudes, was a pupil of the immense trumpeter Winston Marsalis. This young Cuban musician captured everything that the American showed him and fed his roots with the form and style of who is considered a reference in the jazz world.

Lunch at Paladar Atelier. This restaurant is equally known for its atmosphere and exquisite cuisine. The lighting and textures of the house, which was home to a pre-revolutionary senator, coupled with walls adorned in modern art, create a cozy, but modern setting. We will be joined by Yamina Vicente, owner of Decorazón, a private party planning company, for a discussion about the private sector in Cuba.

Enjoy a performance by Habana Compás Dance, which encompasses the rich rhythm and flow of the island, performing traditional and modern dances born from their Spanish, Cuban and Afro-Cuban heritage.

Check-out and depart for Viñales Valley. Considered by many to be the most beautiful place in Cuba, the Viñales Valley National Monument holds stunning landscapes. The area is also famous for being the premier tobacco growing area in the world.

Check-in at a bed and breakfast, known as “casa particular”, or “private home.” Since the 1990s, Cuban families have been permitted to rent rooms out of their family homes to foreigners. Featuring comfortable accommodations and ample privacy, it is a great way to interact with everyday Cubans.

Enjoy a home cooked meal prepared by your hosts.

Nightlife: Take in salsa and dancing in town square.

Saturday, January 19

Visit a local farm to learn about Cuban agriculture and tobacco production. Meet with a local tobacco farmer, who will teach us about the tobacco cultivation and production process, followed by a rolling demo.

Depart for Havana. On the way, stop in Las Terrazas, a small community and nature reserve in the Rosario Mountain Range, to the west of Havana.

Enjoy lunch at El Romero, a paladar that uses locally grown produce to create its meals – offering a true farm-to-table experience.

Guided tour of Las Terrazas Community and forest, focus on biodiversity and rural restoration program and a discussion with local residents.

  • Interact with local artists. Visit the lakeside studio-gallery of Lester Campa, “the painter of the calm”. He graduated from the National School or Arts in 1987 and his work has been exhibited internationally in cities like New York, Washington, Costa Rica and Panama.

  • Visit Ariel Gato Miranda’s studio, an artist who makes serigrafias (printings) with recycled paper, linen and wood.

  • Visit Cafetal Buena Vista, Cuba’s oldest coffee plantation, built in 1801 by French refugees from Haiti. Ruins of the quarters of some of the 126 slaves held by the French-Cuban owners here can be seen alongside the driers. The attic of the master’s house (now a restaurant) was used to store the beans until they could be carried down to the port of Mariel by mule.

Enjoy lunch at El Romero, a paladar that uses locally grown produce to create its meals – offering a true farm-to-table experience.

Optional: Explore the San Juan River, set in a beautiful and peaceful setting or take in a Canopy tour of the forest (to be paid on the ground) to enjoy the best views of the forest and the community.

Continue on to Havana.

Discussion with La Reyna y Real, a female hip hop/jazz duo. The group’s music focuses on breaking down stereotypes in Cuban society, including machismo, healthy relationships, gender relations and race. They will share info about their interesting musical journey and insight into the challenges and opportunities young Cubans face.

Check in at accommodations.

Attend the Havana Jazz Festival Activities.

Sunday, January 20

Enjoy a discussion and private performance by Ruly Herrera and his Real Project, they are young representatives of jazz. Their music mixes the sounds with Cuban music, jazz standards and international sounds to create warmth, and enhance musical modernity.

Lunch at La Makina Gastro Bar, located near the Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Fine Arts in the heart of Old Havana, it is known for the exquisite cuisine dishes and a charming ambiance.

Free time      

Sunset cocktails and private performance by Cimafunk, a signer, composer and music producer and one of the most singular emerging artists in Cuba. His music is an original fusion of funk, Cuban music and African rhythms, whose lyrics come directly from the streets.      

Farewell dinner reservation at Tierra, Havana’s newest international dinning spot. Located inside a container in the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, the restaurant mirrors the eclectic crowd, serving dishes from around the world. (meal not included – to be paid on the ground)

Following dinner, enjoy live music, art and dancing at La Fábrica de Arte Cubano. Rock star X Alfonso has turned this into meeting spot for a young, eclectic crowd of Cubans and foreigners.

Monday, January 21

Check-out and depart for airport. (2 ½ hours before your flight departs).