Cuba wakes to the lilt of acoustic guitars and retires to the tap of bongos, and all day long, its historic buildings and city streets burst with colorful art and creative energy.
Indeed, music and art are the heart and soul of this seductive, charismatic island. Enjoy both at their best on our nine-day Cuban Music & Art Tour, where your Cuban guide will immerse you in the cultural scenes of Havana and Santiago de Cuba, the country’s biggest urban hubs. This tour is a true people-to-people travel experience, full of meaningful conversation and opportunities to get to know lifelong Cuban residents who live and breathe artistic expression.
Cuba is a country unblemished by commercialization, and it thrives on spontaneity and free spirit. This is especially true when it comes to the arts. So while your journey includes plenty of planned activities, ranging from recording studio tours, to art school visits, to encounters with Cuban musicians, chances are you’ll stumble upon at least one live performance on a historic city avenue; when you do, go ahead – lose yourself in the beat, get swept up in the spirit.
Your journey begins in Havana, where you’ll huddle up with artists and discuss how they make a creative living in Cuba. Continue on to Egrem recording studios for a lively chat about the music industry with musicians, engineers and producers.
Next, meet with resident musicians and artists at Callejón de Hamel, a Havana street featuring hundreds of art displays and public music performances, and enjoy an exclusive visit with a prominent artist in the fishing village of Jaimanitas to hear how his community art project is beautifying this tranquil slice of the country.
As you travel on to Santiago de Cuba on the eastern coast, you’ll have a chance to spark dialog with the students and teachers at Escuela Vocacional de Arte José María Heredia, a school specializing in art, music and ballet. Other highlights include chatting with Cuban artists and faculty of the Casa Artex about religious folk art and learning about the influence of African traditions on Cuban culture.
Full schedule of guided people-to-people activities
All meals while in Cuba
U.S. Treasury Department License and Letter of Authorization
Insight Cuba Tour Leader
Small group size of no more than 24 guests
All entrance fees to scheduled activities and events
All in-country ground transportation, and airport transfers
Domestic round trip airfare in Cuba
Guaranteed flights from Miami to Cuba and priority handling (flight cost is additional)
Travel health insurance, emergency medical evacuation, and trip cancellation coverage (up to $1,000)
Insight Cuba Travel Guidebook
24 hour emergency customer service hotline
*A significant portion of your in-country programming is customized for each group to maximize your cultural experience. Many of the places we visit are not tourist destinations and are thus not always available. Therefore, this program should be considered as a sample only – please keep in mind that your particular tour may vary. Final itineraries are sent to guests one to two weeks prior to departure.
Day 1: Miami / Havana
Welcome to Havana! After clearing immigrations and customs, your Cuban guide accompanies you to your hotel in the heart of the country’s capital. Get your feet wet with an afternoon program orientation. Later that evening, celebrate your arrival with a welcome dinner at the hotel. ( L*, D) *For morning arrivials
Day 2: Havana
After breakfast, meet local artists who shed light on how they make a living in Cuba today. Later, get a snapshot into the lives and work of Cuban photographers at Fototeca in Havana, which houses one of the few dark rooms in Havana and is a hub for Cuban amateur and professional photographers. After lunch move onto the next artistic adventure at La Zorra y El Cuevo, Havana’s famous jazz club, where you’ll meet jazz musicians for a sampling of sounds and rhythm.
Wrap up the day at Egrem recording studios with an intimate discussion with the engineers, producers and musicians about Cuba’s vibrant music industry (here you might catch a live performance in the courtyard). (B, L, D)
Day 3: Havana
This morning, meet with resident musicians and artists at Callejón de Hamel to learn about the role of culture, music, the plastic arts and religion in influencing and inspiring community projects in both the U.S. and Cuba. Next, meet with art history experts and artists at the Fine Arts Museum and visit Havana’s Literacy Museum.
This afternoon we’ll get to know a prominent independent artist at his Jaimanitas home, where we’ll discuss a host of topics, including the beautification of residential communities using art, the role of the community versus the state and the general benefit of community projects in both the U.S. and Cuba. (B, L, D*) *Dinner at a Paladar
Day 4: Havana/Santiago de Cuba
This morning we’ll meet with the students and faculty of Lazos de Sonrisa community project in Havana to learn about how deaf children and adults prepare to integrate into society. Next we’ll visit with friends from the university’s FLEX program (the Foreign Language department), where we’ll have a chance to talk candidly about life in Havana.
After lunch, we’ll make our way to the Centro de Arte de Boyeros, a socio-cultural center dedicated to the promotion of cultural activities in the area, to chat with independent Cuban musicians and artists. This evening, dine alongside the owner of a restaurant in Boyeros, learning about private commerce and entrepreneurship and the challenges of restauranteering as you savor a plate of delectable local fare. Finally, it’s onward via domestic flight to Santiago de Cuba. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Santiago de Cuba
Our first morning in Santiago de Cuba, we’ll get acquainted with Cuba’s educational system during an intimate meeting with students and teachers from Escuela Vocacional de Arte José María Heredia, a school specializing in art, music and dance. You may be treated to a performance by its pupils. Next, chat with the independent Cuban artists and faculty of the Casa Artex about the significance religious folk art has on local communities and culture in both Cuba and the U.S.
Later, get to know the administrators and residents at Museo de Carnival to learn about the history of the annual July event, and visit with doctors, nurses and patients at a polyclinic or doctor’s home to discuss socialized medicine and how residents in surrounding communities receive healthcare. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Santiago de Cuba
Depart for El Oasis Community, a suburb of Santiago de Cuba, to gather at the private home studios of the local artists and discuss artistic expression as it relates to painting, ceramics and sculpting. Back in Santiago, we’ll chat with the students and teachers at the La Tesla de la Joye primary school about the role of education and students’ curriculums in the U.S. and Cuba.
Next it’s on to meet the Cuban writers, musicians, and artists of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) to discuss the role of the arts in society as well as the promotion and preservation of various art forms. (B, L, D*) *Dinner at a Paladar
Day 7: Santiago de Cuba/Havana
This morning we’ll meet with Cuban musicians and administrators from Centro Provincial de la Música Miguel Matamoros in Santiago de Cuba to discuss how aspiring artists find professional outlets and earn a living in both Cuba and the U.S. Carry on to the village of Cobre, home to the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Cobrea, where Cuban pilgrims make offerings to a statue of a black Madonna.
From there, hike alongside a Cuban priest to the Cimarron Slave Memorial for an emotional perspective on this country’s history. At the Casa de Cultura de Fernando Ortiz, learn about the influence of African traditions on Cuban culture, before returning to Havana by domestic flight. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Havana
It’s your rare chance to meet the founder of the world-famous Spanish Ballet Company, who will discuss the history of her company and dance education in Cuba. Later, chat with members of Casa de Africa, a cultural institution dedicated to showcasing Cuba’s African roots. Top off the day with a visit with young Cuban trumpeter and the independent musicians who form a Jazz Collective at a private home and studio in Havana. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Havana / Miami
After breakfast, bid farewell to Cuba as you board your flight home. (B)
Tour Dates & Prices
Cuban Music & Art Tour
|Date||Double Occupancy (per person)||Status|
|Dec 6, 2013 – Dec 14, 2013||$4,695||Sold Out|
|Dec 27, 2013 – Jan 4, 2014||$4,895||Sold Out|
|Jan 24, 2014 – Feb 1, 2014||$4,395||Only 7 spots left!||Book Now!|
|Feb 14, 2014 – Feb 22, 2014||$4,395||Only 1 spot left!||Book Now!|
Single Supplement: For single-occupancy pricing, add $500.