Havana Jazz Festival Tour

Jazz CubaA select group of North Americans will be VIP guests at the Havana International Jazz Festival in February 2008. Since its beginnings in 1978, the Havana Jazz Festival has been held annually in late November, but this year the festival has been moved to February. Some of the big names of world jazz take to the stage during these acclaimed four-day musical events, including the likes of Chucho Valdes (the 2007 festival's president), Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Charlie Haden.

This year, Cuba Education Tours of Vancouver is organizing an eight-night jazz and cultural tour to Havana to coincide with the festival. Participants will be given a pass for all public jazz concerts, including the festival's opening ceremony at the Karl Marx Theatre. The program has been designed to allow first time visitors to get to know to Cuba while experiencing the best of Cuban and international jazz.

Tour members will stay at the Hotel Riviera, official accommodations for the festival, and there will be numerous opportunities to rub shoulders with Cuban and world jazz greats. The group will meet students and professors at the Superior Institute of Art, visit the home of well-known painter and ceramist Jose Fuster, drop in on a babalao or high priest in santeria, and get lessons in son, salsa, cha cha cha, and afrocuban dancing.

Comprehensive sightseeing around Havana and Pinar del Rio will be part of the package. Special treats include tours of colonial and modern Havana, a lunch at La Mina on Plaza de Armas, a visit to a Havana cigar factory, a dinner at La Guarida where the Oscar-nominated film Strawberry and Chocolate was made, and a night out at the famous La Zorra y El Cuervo Jazz Club in Vedado. In Pinar del Rio the group will tour the scenic Vinales Valley. Cuba-Pictures.com has Cuba travel photos.

The jazz concerts take place at a number of venues throughout the city, including the magical Casa de la Cultura de Plaza, and English-speaking Cuban guides will be available to provide information and group transportation. Accommodations with breakfast, entrance fees, activities, and dinners at several famous restaurants are included. Airfare, travel insurance, gratuities, airport departure taxes, and activities noted as “optional” in the program are extra.

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