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JazzArts Trip to Cuba

JazzArts Charlotte offers an exclusive cultural and musical
experience to Cuba and the Havana Jazz Festival.
January 21-29, 2024

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Journey to Cuba

Held annually since 1979, the Havana Jazz Festival is a six-day feast of spellbinding performances by some of the best musicians in the world.
You will meet with local musicians and artists as you take in the historical and cultural wonders of Havana, Cuba’s gritty, bustling
capital, Matanzas – the birthplace of Rumba, and Trinidad and Cienfuegos on Cuba’s Southern, Caribbean coast.
The journey will be administered under the general OFAC travel category “Support for
the Cuban People”, in partnership with Cross Cultural Journeys. As such will also include a visit to music schools
and programs that will benefit from outside support and donations in form of musical instruments, music
related goods and products, and/or exchanges and teaching/learning opportunities and
musical exchanges / performances. Additional cultural activities during the trip will include
the amazing array of local art, music, history, food and dance.

Day-by-Day Itinerary (subject to change!)


Day 1 | January 21 | Havana 
Arrive at Jose Marti International Airport. Your CCJ Cuba guide, Jesus Noguera and/or Arturo Mesa, will meet you outside of baggage claim. Your first drive into Havana will include the scenic route along the iconic Malecón waterfront and a stop at the Plaza de la Revolución, where Fidel Castro gave many of his most important speeches. After checking in at your hotel in Havana (and a brief rest break) enjoy a delicious welcome dinner at one of our favorite paladares, followed by the opening performance at Havana Jazz Festival.
Sleep: Havana Hotel (D)

Day 2 | January 22 |Havana 
Experience a talk on the history of the city’s fascinating past and uncertain future by an expert architect. Explore Old Havana on a guided walking tour of the main Cathedral and surrounding plazas. Enjoy lunch at one of Old Havana’s classic eateries. After lunch, meet with a traditional cigar roller who will teach you the art and science behind what makes Cuban cigars the best in the world. Dinner on your own. Evening Jazz Fest activities.
Sleep: Havana Hotel (B/L)

Day 3 | January 23 | Havana  
After breakfast, we are invited to Amadeo Roldán Music Conservatory for a spectacular private performance by Cuban youth music students. (If you are bringing instruments or other music and school supplies, this is a good place to donate them!) Early afternoon we continue our journey to the West of Havana, for a visit to the Finca Tungasuk for a tour of this privately run organic farm, followed by a several course homecooked meal served by well-renowned Nicaraguan chef Annabelle Cantarero. Return to Havana. If you are still hungry, dinner is on your own. Evening Jazz Fest activities.
Sleep: Havana Hotel (B/L)

Day 4 | January 24 | Havana/Matanzas 
Matanzas / Havana After breakfast, we depart for a day trip to Matanzas, the beautiful port city East of Havana, also known as the birthplace of the Rumba. After the two-hour scenic drive, we take a tour of Matanzas, including a stop at the historic plaza, followed by lunch and a musical Rumba performance by some of the members of AfroCuba de Matanzas and the Muñequitos, followed by lunch. Return to Havana. Dinner on your own, followed by evening Jazz Festival activities.
Sleep: Havana Hotel  (B/L) 

Day 5 | January 25 | Havana > Trinidad 
After an early breakfast we depart for colonial Trinidad, the UNESCO heritage on the Caribbean coast. Lunch included after arrival in Trinidad. In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the historic area with a local guide.
Explore Trinidad on your own or with the guide, if you wish. Visit the Romantico Museum of Decorative Arts.
Visit a women’s embroidery co-op.
Visit the artisan’s street for crafts or jive on local music at Casa de la Trova. Visit the artist galleries. Dinner on your own at one of the numerous fabulous restaurants in Trinidad.
Trinidad Hotel (B/L)

Day 6 | January 26 | Trinidad
After breakfast we will head out for an all-day excursion exploring the plantations and beautiful natural surroundings of Trinidad (details TBD), and/or a visit to Playa Ancón, Trinidad’s exquisite beach. Lunch is on your own. We will return in time for dinner at the hotel with an optional night out.
Trinidad Hotel (B/D)

Day 7 | January 27 | Cienfuegos
After breakfast, we drive to the historic French colonial town of Cienfuegos, called the Pearl of the Caribbean. Learn from your guide about the city’s history with the France and Louisiana. After arrival at the Cienfuegos main plaza, enjoy a private presentation by the Cienfuegos choir. Lunch on your own. Visit the Cienfuegos Plaza and the Thomas Terry theater. Dinner at Villa Lagarto.
Cienfuegos Hotel (B/D)

Day 8 | January 28 | Cienfuegos > Havana
Breakfast and a quick last-minute activity in Cienfuegos, we depart to return to Havana, stopping at a roadside stop for one of their famous sandwiches. After arriving in Havana, visit the Callejón de Hamel (Hamel’s Alley) to see local musicians, dancers and artists influenced by the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion and enjoy a presentation by the organizer of this inspiring community art project. Lunch on your own in Old Havana. Free time to explore the vast artisan’s market. Enjoy a delicious farewell dinner before heading out for a final performance at the Havana Jazz Festival.
Havana Hotel (B/L/D)

Day 9 | January 29 | Havana/Home
Before your departure home, the morning is free for any last-minute adventures before we bid Cuba farewell. Transfer to Jose Martí Airport for our flights back home.



The extended journey will give those who want to explore Cuba in greater depth a chance to do so. For those interested in an extended city experience, you will stay in Havana. For those interested in a more rural excursion (including visits to a tobacco plantation; pineapple farm and goat cheese factory); there is an option to travel West to Pinar del Rio and Viñales Valley. Depending on the final size of the group(s) for the extension, accommodations during the extension program will likely be in smaller run hotels or family homes.

Havana (3 nights Havana):

Day 1 | Havana 
In the morning, head out to walk through the Colon Cemetery. Founded in 1876, it is nearly the 140 acres in size, and is famous for its elaborately sculpted memorials. There are more than 500 distinct mausoleums, chapels, and family vaults. Sample Fidel Castro’s favorite ice cream at the 50’s style institution of Copellia, then visit a Cuban ration store to see how most of Cuba gets their groceries. After lunch at a local paladar, visit Havana’s National Museum of Fine Arts, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, where your guide will share the history of Cuba through its impressive art history. Either take the afternoon for some leisure time for reflecting, exploring, or relaxing or head to the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution) housed in what was once the Presidential Palace of all former Cuban presidents from Marion Garcia Menocal to Bulgencio Batista. Dinner on your own.
Havana Accommodation (B/L)

Day 2 | Havana 
After breakfast, take the local ferry to the island of Regla to visit Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla (Church of Our Lady of Regla) with the Black Madonna, their patron saint. Talk with the Santeria priestesses outside the church, learning about the rich roots of an African tradition very much alive in Cuba. After lunch on your own, we visit Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s primary residence from 1939 to 1960 for a guided tour and where Hemingway penned much of his classic “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Later we visit the Almancenes de San Jose where artisans and craftsman gather, selling everything from hand-rolled cigars to beautifully crocheted dressed. Dinner on your own.
Havana Accommodation (B)

Day 3 | Havana 
Continue the walking tour to visit Ambos Mundos, the former residence  of Ernest Hemingway and La Floridita, where he claimed served some of the best daiquiris in Havana. Enjoy lunch in Old Havana at a local paladar. In the afternoon visit the artisans and musicians that populate Callejón de Hamel. Enjoy a free evening to sample one of the many paladars and restaurants, patron a local café and take part in the various nightlife activities Cuba has to offer. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local paladar.
Havana Accommodation (B/D).

Day 4 | Havana/Home
It’s time to bid Cuba farewell. Transfer to Jose Martí Airport for our flights back home. (B)


Viñales Valley (2 nights Viñales, 1 night Havana):


Day 1 | Havana | Las Terrazas – Viñales 
After breakfast, we drive West for a day visit in Las Terrazas, an eco-community founded in the 1960’s, where we will enjoy a walking tour to learn about local community life.  Lunch at el Romero or other local restaurant. After a leisurely lunch at El Romero, one of Cuba’s first vegetarian restaurants, we will stop at the gallery of Lester Campa, a well-known local painter, whose work has been on exhibition in art galleries across the United States. In late afternoon, we continue our journey to Viñales. Dinner on your own.
Viñales Accommodation (B/L)

Day 2 | Viñales   
After breakfast, your guide will accompany you to Viñales National Park, a green, dreamlike landscape, where you will go for a morning hike among giant limestone rocks unique to this area of Cuba. After lunch, we visit a tobacco farm, to learn about the life from the Cuban families living and running these farms, that have been in the same family for several generations. Return to the hotel for a brief rest, before you enjoy dinner included at Paladar el Olivo. Optional nighttime outing.
Viñales Accomodation (B)

Day 3 | Viñales > Havana  
Early departure for Havana. We will go straight to Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway’s residence for a private tour. Return to Havana for lunch on your own. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local paladar.
Optional evening out.
Havana Accommodation (B, D)

Day 4 | Havana/Home
Before your departure home, the morning is free for any last-minute adventures before we bid Cuba farewell. Transfer to Jose Martí Airport for our flights back home.


Trip Cost

Double occupancy (per person): $3,795

Included:  Airport transfers, in-country transportation as per itinerary, general Access Jazz Festival passes (one per traveler), accommodations in double occupancy in 3-4 star hotel, meals (daily breakfast at the hotel, 5 dinners and 3 lunches), site visits and cultural activities per itinerary, potable water on the bus while touring (to avoid plastic garbage from our visit, we recommend travelers bring a refillable water bottle, to refill from larger bottles of bottled water).

Not included: Airfare to and from Havana, Cuba Entry Card/Visa (information how to obtain entry visa will be sent upon registration), alcoholic beverages, tips to Cuban guide and driver (optional, yet customary – tipping suggestions included in CCJ Cuba Destination Guide), tips for meals (optional, yet customary), events and visit to venues not on the itinerary, meals not on itinerary, travel protection insurance (recommended: information will be sent upon registration.

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