Fiesta del Fuego - Festival del Caribe
Fiesta del Fuego

The Fiesta del Fuego, officially known as the Festival del Caribe takes places each year in the first weeks of July in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Santiago the prior capitol city of Cuba is situated on the Eastern tip of the island and is geographically the heart of the Caribbean.

An exciting array of performances, exhibitions, workshops and street activities take place throughout Santiago de Cuba during this festival.

Vibrant costumes and with enthusiastic participants from all over the world, this festival is a celebration not to be missed.

Immere yourself in the exciting street parades and traditional congas (see a video of a traditional conga) heard reverberating along the streets as the town comes alive.

See this festival!

At this time of year your tour can often coincide with more than just this amazing festival! Experience the parades, the floats, the dancers, and the drumming of carnival - San Juaneras in Trinidad and the vibrancy and spectacular San Juan Camagueyano carnival in Camaguey, then move onto the traditional heart of the caribbean - Santiago to experience a taste of the beginning of the Festival del Fuego as it starts again for another year!

History - Fiesta del Fuego

Fiesta del Fuego

Every July, the heat of Santiago de Cuba is tripled...added to the high temperatures normally felt in the eastern Greater Antilles is 1. the warm hospitality of the people of Santiago and 2. the Fiesta del Fuego.

The 'Feast of Fire', or 'the Caribbean Festival' is one of the most important cultural events for the Ministry of Culture of Cuba - organised by the 'Casa de Caribe'.

It includes the participation of over 200 thousand artists and intellectuals from approximately 18 countries and a similar number of national participants, who meet between 3 and 9 July in forty spaces around the city of Santiago de Cuba, some 140 individual music and/or dance performances, magic/religious ceremonies, art exhibitions and theoretical activities to exchange anything having to do with history, religion and culture of the area. And that's one aspect that most distinguishes the Caribbean Festival from the rest of the international events held in Cuba! It is the merging of cultures together with the abundance of opportunities for academic discourse - all with folk art, tradition and expressions of identity of indigenous Caribbean peoples at the roots. Naturally attracting people from as far away as Australia, Hungary, Holland and Israel.

Since its founding in April 1981 this popular carnival has managed to honour the most authentic and spiritual roots of all Caribbean countries and fills the streets of Santiago de Cuba with a tantalizing mix of mysticism, music and wisdom. And apart from the popular street activities, other theoretical events as well such as: workshops on poetry, orality, theater, dance, religion and film series, concerts and theatrical scenery take place during the festival.

As a rule, each year the Caribbean Festival has paid tribute to a country or group of countries. Over the years heartfelt homage has been paid to Haiti, Guyana , Brazil, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, Africa, the francophone and anglophone Caribbean, Colombia, Panama, Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and Suriname.

Fiesta del Fuego

But if theres exist in the Caribbean Festival any expectations, especially at the grassroots level, they are without doubt the Fire Parade, which begins with a ritual salute Nzambi Congo, supreme entity among practitioners of Palo Monte religion, delivery Mpaka of the emblem of the Feast of Fire and the Burning of the Devil, a raging storm of drums one of the most central avenues of the city as a farewell to groups and participants of the current Festival.

Then, by the sea the huge effigy of the devil is set alight and the burning paves the way for the next Festival meeting in 12 months time.