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Cuba Music Holiday

Join our Cuba Music Holiday in Santiago de Cuba, the undisputed home of traditional Cuban music. Enjoy specialist Cuban music tuition and masterclasses on your chosen instrument taught by one of our professional music tutors.  Learn about traditional Cuban and Latin music throughout the week, refine your skills and join in with a group performance at the end to demonstrate your new musical skills!

Nights out to top live bands, cultural visits and excursions and plenty of time to relax and recharge your batteries too, all in a relaxed and tropical Caribbean atmosphere. A holiday you will never forget! Our 1 week Cuba Music holidays have been taking place since 1998 in Santiago de Cuba, the ideal place to hear and learn about live music.

This Cuba Music Holiday is an authentic and joyous cultural experience that will strengthen your knowledge and understanding of globally revered Cuban music in good company.

  • Duration: 1 week (7 nights)
  • Start dates: 19 Jan and 15 March 2025
  • Cost: £1075 per person

Images 1, 2 & 5 by Bob & Patty Tatum from Sound Traveler Band who were participants on the Cuba Music Holiday in March 2018

“We just returned from our Cuba Music Holiday in Santiago de Cuba – it was quite possibly the best music experience of our lives! Because of this wonderful company, we had the privilege of working, rehearsing, learning and performing with Septeto Tipico Tivoli, one of the hottest bands (and nicest guys) you could ever hope to meet! The Cuban people have filled our hearts, and their music and rhythm have penetrated our souls. If you are passionate about your music, you MUST join the next program – it will be a life-changing experience for you!

PT, United States, Mar 2018

  Jazz Plaza Festival (late January each year):  

  • The Jazz Plaza music festival takes place in both Havana and Santiago de Cuba in the last week of January each year
  • A wide range of international and Cuban jazz musicians will be playing this year in the 39th Jazz Plaza Festival
  • One of the highlights of this years festival are the performances of Roberto Fonseca, an internationally recognised Cuban jazz pianist and Artistic Director of the Jazz Plaza festival
  • Ticket prices are very accessible to overseas visitors and provide an opportunity to listen to world class musicians, often in small intimate venues such as the Iris jazz club in Santiago de Cuba

 Pepe Sanchez Trova Festival (each year in mid March):  

  • The Pepe Sanchez Trova Festival is one of the longest running music events in Cuba, with the first festival taking place in 1962.
  • The festival is named after the Cuban musician and singer Jose Sanchez, also known as Pepe, the father of Trova music.
  • Pepe Sanchez, born in 1856, was a naturally talented composer and inspired many musicians who, like him, had no formal training in music but wrote and played their own music. These musicians became know as trovadores (troubadours) and they made their living singing and playing the guitar in public spaces in Santiago and Cuba’s Oriente.
  • Trova music became increasingly popular with the radio. Traditional trova songs were often sentimental but an emerging modernised trova music, known as Nueva trova, took a more political stance following the Cuban revolution in the 1960s.
  • The Pepe Sanchez Trova Festival is a tribute to Cuba’s trovadores. Throughout the festival trova artists come together in Santiago de Cuba to play concerts across the city in parks, squares, theatres and music venues. International musicians are also invited, pairing traditional trova music with more contemporary trova music styles.
  • A highlight of the festival is a parade through the city to the Santa Ifigenia cemetery where Pepe Sanchez is buried amongst other trova artists. This is known as the Ruta del Trovador.
  • If you are looking to immerse yourself in traditional Cuban music, the Pepe Sanchez Trova Festival is not to be missed.

 Matamoros Son Festival (usually in May):  

  • The Matamoros Son Festival takes place every two years in Santiago de Cuba
  • The festival is named after the Cuban musician and singer Miguel Matamoros, famous for writing the words to Son de la Loma and Lagrimas Negras, amongst many other hit songs
  • Miguel Matamoros was born in 1894 and was a prolific song writer. He was part of the Matamoros Son Trio which, for over 40 years, helped to popularise Son music
  • The Matamoros Son Festival lasts for 5 days and brings together Cuban and international musicians to play in scheduled concerts and impromptu gatherings all over the city venues
  • Son music originated in the Oriente province of Cuba, of which Santiago de Cuba is the capital, and it is wonderful music for dancing as well as listening to for enjoyment

Our music holidays are based in Santiago de Cuba. Santiago de Cuba is widely acknowledged as the home of traditional Cuban music and is the perfect location for our Cuba music holidays.  The holiday dates are scheduled to coincide with the annual traditional music festival, the Pepe Sanchez Trova Festival in March and the biennial Matamoros Son Festival in May, both providing an opportunity to hear top Cuban musicians play live in atmospheric music venues around the city,  including the world famous Casa de la Trova and outdoors stages around the city centre. Please note that festival dates are not guaranteed.

You will have daily master classes in small groups or, depending on your instrument, one to one. At various points in the week you will come together with everyone to play and rehearse as a a group.  Each music tutor will guide and encourage you to learn and get the most out of your time on the trip. These Cuba music holidays are ideal for people who already have experience in playing an instrument or singing, and are not aimed at beginners.  If you have a passion for Cuban rhythm and want to know how to play or sing like a Cuban, then join us in Santiago de Cuba!  Over the week, group lessons and rehearsals will lead up to an informal concert with your music tutors in one of Santiago’s popular live music venues. 

Accommodation is arranged in carefully selected homestays which will provide you with a real insight into Cuban life, delicious home cooked meals, private bathroom facilities and a home away from home with all the independence you need.

Minimum age 18 years (younger participants are also very welcome but only if accompanied by an adult). Maximum 6 places only.

If the dates below do not suit your travel plans, we can organise a customised Music Holiday for you at any time of the year.

Cuban Music Holiday dates: 15 March; 19 January 2025 

This trip includes masterclasses with top professional Cuban musicians and accompanied nights out to hear live music in different local venues.

We would be delighted to organise a tailormade itinerary for you before or after the Cuba Music Holiday dates if you would like to explore other areas of Cuba on your trip - just let us know what you would like to do and leave the planning up to us.

  • Day 1

    Arrive Santiago de Cuba and early dinner at homestay accommodation, then go out to a live music event

  • Day 2

    Introduction to music teacher and music classes 0930-1300
    Briefing meeting in afternoon followed by orientation walking tour of city centre
    Welcome cocktail in evening after dinner and night out to live music event

  • Day 3

    Music classes 0930-1230
    Half day afternoon excursion to learn about the history of Santiago de Cuba, to visit key sites associated with the Revolution and finally to go to El Morro, the castle-fortress guarding the mouth of  Santiago Bay
    Accompanied night out to live music venue

  • Day 4

    Music classes 0930-1230
    Group percussion workshop x 1.5 hours
    Accompanied night out to music activity

  • Day 5

    Music classes 0930-1230
    Afternoon visit to the famous EGREM recording studios followed by a cultural exchange with students of a local music school
    Free evening

  • Day 6

    Final morning of music lessons, 0930-1230
    Afternoon visit to a well known local instrument maker out of town and evening out to live music venue

  • Day 7

    Final rehearsals for the evening.

    Evening concert with music tutors and others on the course

  • Day 8

    Check out of homestay accommodation late morning.  End of course!

The Cuba Music Holiday costs £1075 per person and includes:

Homestay accommodation:
single room including breakfast & dinner x 7 nights, ensuite bathroom, air conditioning

Classes:
15 group / individual master classes with professional Cuban musicians
+ 1 percussion group workshop (90 minutes)

Excursions  / Activities:
1  half day excursion including transport, English speaking guide, entries and tips for the driver and guide(s)

+ cultural/musical exchanges with local musicians

Nights out:
Accompanied nights out to a variety of top local live music venues and concerts. Please note that entries and drinks are not included for you nor your music tutors.

Tour leader:
English speaking Caledonia tour leader on hand from start to finish

Please note the following are not included:

  • International or domestic flights
  • Cuban Tourist card (the required visa)*
  • Airport transfers*
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches
  • Drinks on nights out

* These can be arranged by us on request

Minimum age 18 years (younger participants are also very welcome but only if accompanied by an adult).