A Celtic heritage festival, featuring Celtic and Irish music and dance, is not something that most South Floridians would associate with Old Havana, Cuba. Celtic cultural came to Cuba from Spain’s historically Celtic regions of Asturia and Galicia. For the third year, Havana will host CeltFest Cuba, a week-long celebration of Cuba’s Celtic heritage and culture, to be held in Old Havana during the week of April 14-21, 2012. Travel restrictions to Cuba have been relaxed by the Obama administration this past year, allowing US citizens to attend events in Cuba like CeltFest Cuba for the first time. The Cuba-US People to People Partnership is conducting a week-long Irish Heritage Program in Cuba (April 14-22, 2012) that will include festival events in addition to an exploration of Cuba’s Irish heritage:
“Coincident with the Irish Heritage program is Cuba’s third annual Celtic Festival. It offers direct involvement with Cuba’s well-established emigrant societies from Spain’s Celtic provinces of Asturia and Galicia that play a role in Cuba similar to Irish county societies in the US. With limited resources they foster a lively expression of traditional music, instruments, dance and costumes. Participants are welcomed by evening concerts into the Asturian and Galician clubs. Workshops and sessions provide opportunities for spontaneous interaction with Cuban counterparts. A culminating public concert in Plaza Vieja, in conjunction with the Festival of Dance in Urban Landscapes, creates more chances to mingle and converse. For the first time Irish American musicians, singers, dancers, academic specialists and fans can participate informally in a rich people to people experience, enjoying the craic while learning in the most direct and personal way possible about life in Cuba today.”
Watch videos from last year’s CelticFest Cuba: CelticFest Cuba’s Youtube Channel
“Revealing discussions will be held with Cuban experts on the four century role of the Irish in their country’s history and culture. Visits made to related historical locations in the UNESCO world heritage city of Old Havana offer opportunities to speak with their current residents. The Irish and Celtic influence outside of Havana will be the focus of field trips to Pinar del Rio to the west and Matanzas to the east.”
The Irish have been in Cuba since the early 1600’s. The largest Irish migration prior to the Great Potato Famine was to Spain during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Arriving in Spain as persecuted Catholics, they were awarded Spanish citizenship, and many joined the Spanish army’s Hibernian regiments, becoming some of Spain’s best soldiers and most famous generals. Many of them were posted to Cuba and married into the island’s Spanish aristocracy, establishing great Irish-Cuban families such as the O’Farrills, the O’Reillys, the Kindelans, the Madans, the Duanys, the O’Gabans, the Coppingers and the O’Naughtens. Irish people served at high levels in Cuba’s government and in senior military positions. Four Captains General of Cuba were of Irish origin: Nicolás Mahy, Sebastián Kindelán, Leopoldo O’Donnell and Luís Prendergast.
The Irish Heritage Program is being coordinated by John McAuliff, formerly President of the Philadelphia Ceili Group and Assistant Editor of the Irish Edition. He has traveled frequently to Cuba since 1997 as Executive Director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development. Participants will fly non-stop from New York (or Miami) to Havana on Saturday, April 14. Return will be on Sunday, April 22, via Miami, with ongoing connection to New York or other city of origin. Room accommodations will be at the Caribbean Hotel in Habana Vieja (a basic 3-star facility. Accommodations in a 5 star hotel are also available. The cost per person will be approximately $2900, including airfare (except to New York and from Miami) and most meals. The final price will be affected by the number of participants.
For further information about the program and cost, and to obtain a registration form, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-231-6270.