International Choir Festival Cuba, Oct 2019

The International Choir Festival Cuba was established in 1931 and takes place every two years in Santiago de Cuba, the undisputed choral capital of the Caribbean. We are delighted to offer a unique festival accommodation package for the forthcoming event taking place from 27 October – 4 November 2019.

This small and exciting festival provides the opportunity to sing in prestigious venues in Santiago de Cuba, and to also be involved in specially organised local community choral activities in outlying areas of the city.  The highlight of the festival is the final evening when all of the choirs sing their way through the streets by torchlight to meet in the main city square for an unforgettable musical finale.

Choirs from all over the world come to Santiago to be involved in this joyous festival and we hope you will come too. Individuals who are not singing but who love music are also welcome.

  • Duration: 8 nights
  • Start date: 26 October 2019
  • Cost (8 nights):
    £595 per person in single room
    £495 per person in shared room

” The festival was an unforgettable experience. The opportunity to hear so many wonderful choirs was truly wonderful. The workshops were great too, made special by the openness and mutual appreciation between the choirs. The homestay accommodation was outstanding. What made it so was the care, attention, friendliness and engagement of our hosts.  They made us feel like part of their family, to the extent of being invited to a family 50th birthday meal. They provided us with great vegetarian food and welcomed other members of the choir who came back to their house with us. Nothing was too much trouble for them”

C.V, Edinburgh, Choir Festival Cuba 2013

The International Choir Festival Cuba takes place in Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago de Cuba – widely regarded as the musical heart of the country.  Alongside the scheduled concerts, choirs are invited to participate in a programme of community workshops and singing masterclasses. Main festival performance venues will be the well known Sala Dolores and the Santiago Music Conservatory as well as Santiago cathedral, local community venues and El Cobre basilica close to the city.

Caledonia Worldwide is a specialist tour operator focusing on cultural travel with a strong emphasis on responsible tourism. We have been operating in Cuba since 1998, mainly in and around Santiago de Cuba and would love to share our local knowledge to make your trip really special.

We can book international and domestic travel to complement the choir festival package, and we also provide the required visas for your visit as well as anything else needed by festival visitors to make this an exciting and unforgettable experience.

You will have the opportunity to book additional singing, salsa dance or percussion lessons (at extra cost – not included in the main festival package price).  Try your hand at some Afro-Cuban rhythms with top professional  local musicians, or learn how to dance salsa Cuban style.

The choir festival takes place from 27 October to 3 November 2019. We have allowed for another night in Santiago before the festival starts to have time to explore and relax after your journey.

Choir Festival package includes:
– Homestay accommodation: 8 nights in single or shared room with private bathroom, 26 October – 4 November 2019
– Meals: 8 breakfasts and 5 evening meals at your homestay
– Excursion: half day guided city tour to visit the key sites associated with the Cuban Revolution; Fidel Castro’s grave; Jose Marti mausoleum; Santiago de Cuba rum factory; the Alameda seafront promenade area; the 3 main city squares and Revolution Square
– Choir Festival:  registration allowing full access to all concerts, workshops and presentations as well as your own choir’s scheduled performances;  an invitation to the Civic Reception on the opening night with an official welcome from the head of the city council and the festival organising committee; an official certificate of participation in the festival.

Cost:
Single room    £595 per person
Shared room  £495 per person

Not included:
Please note that the cost does not include any international flights/domestic travel/arrival transfers/Cuban visa.

Everyone is welcome:
Anyone who is not singing in the choir festival but loves music is also very welcome!


Extended Itinerary
We can easily organise an extension to the choir festival itinerary dates so just let us know where and when you are arriving, how many days you would like us to organise for you and we will put together a programme to suit.

A sample itinerary is outlined below with arrival and departure in Havana:

Havana - Santiago de Cuba - Havana Itinerary

Oct 26 Arrive Havana airport 
Arrive Havana airport. Met by a local representative and group transfer into Havana.  Accommodation in homestay with breakfast x 1 night

Oct 27 Havana – Santiago de Cuba
Morning guided group walking tour of Old Havana with local guide.
Group transfer to Havana airport for domestic flight from Havana to Santiago. Group transfer on arrival Santiago and to homestay. Festival registration

Oct 28 – 3 Nov Choir Festival Programme, Santiago de Cuba

Nov 4 Santiago de Cuba – Havana
Group transfer to Santiago airport for flight back to Havana. Met on arrival and transfer to homestay accommodation with breakfast x 1 night.

Nov 5 Depart Havana 
Group transfer to Havana airport for international flight home

The above itinerary extension includes:
– Homestay accommodation: in Havana x 2 nights including breakfast and in Santiago de Cuba x 8 nights, including 8 breakfasts + 5 evening  meals
– Domestic flights: Return scheduled domestic flights Havana – Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba – Havana
– Airport Transfers: Shared airport transfers in Havana x 4, Shared airport transfers in Santiago x 2
– Guided Tour: Morning walking tour in Havana with professional English speaking guide
– Local representative support 24/7

Cost: dependent on group numbers, please contact us on info@caledoniaworldwide.com for a quote.

There is an international airport in Santiago de Cuba, but only a few airlines fly direct to this city.  Most scheduled airlines will fly into Havana which is at the opposite end of the island or into Holguin, a 2 hour drive away.  From Havana you will have to travel on to Santiago, either on a domestic flight or by long distance bus, and from Holguin you will need a private transfer as there is no public transport serving the airport.

We  can arrange both international flights to Cuba and domestic travel within Cuba.

Our ATOL licence (ATOL 6387) offers people booking flights or package holidays extra protection in the event that an airline is unable to provide your flight.  This is only applicable to UK residents or anyone departing on an international flight from a UK airport. For full information please refer to this website: www.caa.co.uk/atol.

Please click on one of the following options for more details:

International travel

We can book international flights to Cuba for you from pretty much anywhere in the world. All you have to do is tell us where you want to fly from and when, and we will give you flight options.  Almost all international airlines flying from Europe and North America fly into and out of Havana, and this often entails an overnight stay in Havana city before you can travel on to Santiago de Cuba at the other end of the island (we can book accommodation for you if this is required).  See below for details of domestic travel options from Havana to Santiago de Cuba.

There are direct flights from Canada (Toronto/Montreal), Germany (Frankfurt/Munich) and the UK (Manchester/London Gatwick) direct to Holguin in the south east of Cuba, just a 2 hour drive from Santiago. These flights usually operate once or twice a week.

Please note that for travellers arriving direct from the United States, we cannot book flights from any US airport to Cuba, nor the travel visa, as these must be organised by an authorised US travel company.  Ask us for details.

Domestic travel

Most international flights will arrive into Havana from Europe and North America.  We can organise your onward travel from Havana to Santiago by plane or long distance bus.

Plane
There are 1-2 daily scheduled flights between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, costing approx. £145 one way. The flight is 1 hour 20 minutes.

Bus
There are daily scheduled departures between Havana and Santiago de Cuba on the national bus service, in air-conditioned comfortable coaches. Journey time is 12-16 hours depending on which service you book (daytime and overnight options). The cost is approximately £60 one way.

Group Private Coach Transfers
If you are travelling as part of a group, we can organise a private minibus or coach transfer for you. From Havana, the journey time is around 12 hours and from Holguin, approximately 2 hours.

Transfers to Santiago city
We can arrange transfers to Santiago city from either Holguin or Santiago airports or the Viazul bus station in Santiago:

Santiago de Cuba airport / Viazul bus station – Santiago city centre: approx. £20 for 1-2 persons
Holguin Airport – Santiago city centre: approx. £120 for 1 person / £60 each for 2 persons/ £55 each for 3 persons/£45 per person for 4+ persons

In Santiago de Cuba we have included selected homestay accommodation in the Choir Festival package. Please see below for more details.

Hotel accommodation is also available but is limited during the festival dates.

Homestay accommodation in Santiago de Cuba

Homestay accommodation gives you the perfect opportunity to have an insight into Cuban life. As we have been organising trips to Santiago de Cuba for over 20 years, we know all of our homestays personally and can vouch for the quality and standard of the accommodation. All our homestay accommodation is licenced by the Cuban government and is regularly inspected.   You can be reassured that you will be staying in homes which offer a professional level of service, a high standard of cleanliness as well as a friendly welcome, ensuring you are comfortable and that you feel right at home.

Homestay accommodation is very independent and you can come and go as you please. You will not have your meals with your hosts, but you will always have someone to chat to if you want to practice your Spanish. Another advantage of staying in our selected homestays is that they are all centrally located in the city, within easy reach of the main festival venue.   

We can organise single or double/twin rooms (the latter is only for 2 people booking together). Triple rooms have limited availability. All bedrooms are equipped with air-conditioning and often an electric fan as well, and guests will have their own private bathroom with hot water for showers.   Breakfast is included every morning, and to allow for greater flexibility with evening arrangements, we have included dinner on 5 nights only. 

Meals will provide excellent home cooking and special dietary requirements can be catered for without any problem as long as we know in advance. It is not usual for homestays to have any self-catering facilities.

Hotel accommodation

There are  a number of  good 3* and 4* hotels in Santiago but availability is limited during the choir festival period.  Costs vary according to the category of  hotel you would like to book and all rooms have air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms with hot showers. For more information, contact us on info@caledoniaworldwide.com to discuss options.

All visitors to Cuba require a visa to enter the country known as a Tourist Card*. We can issue Cuban tourist cards for a cost of £25 (£20 + £5 admin fee). If you live outside of the UK, we can arrange secure delivery by courier for which there are additional costs.

The visa is valid for 30 days from the date you enter Cuba. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry to Cuba. Some nationalities will have to apply direct to a Cuban consulate for a visa (for example, if you  have an Indian passport). Please check with us first.

*Anyone (US and non US citizens) flying direct from the US to Cuba must apply for the required visa direct with an authorised US travel company.  We are not able to provide the visa if you are flying from the US direct to Cuba. Ask us for details of where you can book your visa in the US.

BOOKING DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2019 CHOIR FESTIVAL : 30 APRIL 2019

To book your choir for this festival, all you have to do is contact us and let us know where your choir is based, how many people are planning on coming and what your travel plans are likely to be.  If you would like us to arrange extra travel and accommodation not already included in the one week choir festival package, we will provide options and costs for you to consider.   Once you have approved our proposal, we will email you our secure online booking form and then when we have the completed forms, we can start to get your trip organised. Easy!

Spouses, partners, friends and children are all welcome to join you on this musical adventure in Cuba.

Details required for festival registration are:

  • the name of your choir
  • which country you are from
  • your home city
  • full contact postal address
  • contact telephone number(s)
  • email address
  • choir website (if you have one)
  • total number of choir members participating in the festival
  • number of female singers
  • number of male singers
  • proposed repertoire
  • a photo of the choir
  • the usual repertoire of the choir with the category of work, names of individual numbers and their composers
  • video or other audio recording of the choir

Please note that the CUT OFF DATE for 2019 festival registration is 30 APRIL 2019.