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The International Book Fair of Havana: a cultural journey

February has arrived and with it the most populous cultural festivity in the Cuban capital: The International Book Fair of Havana. Dedicated each year to a different country, this itinerant fest travels the whole island spreading not only literature novelties but cultural traditions of the host and the invited nation.

Espíritu Travel designs a special itinerary to help you appreciate the most of this event. If you are attracted by worldwide cultures, this article is for you.

The International Book Fair of Havana: a bit of history

It was May 1937 when Cuba’s International Book Fair was celebrated. Organized by de Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring and José Luciano Franco, it included the most important book shops of the epoch (Minerva, La Moderna Poesía, La Casa Belga, La Divulgación Literaria) and stands of important journals and offices.

Who could imagine that the small initiative held at the Paseo del Prado those days, was going to become a huge movement of national and international figures interested in promoting literature and reading in people from all ages.

Book fair havana

After the Revolution, the International Book Fair took its definitive name becoming a way to stretch relationships with numerous countries. Today it’s not only dedicated every year to certain topic and devoted artist, the Fair has incorporated a guest of honor which has the opportunity of sharing its culture with Cuba and the world.

What to expect at the International Book Fair of Havana

The 29th edition of the International Book Fair of Havana 2020 invited the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. From February 6th to 16th, representatives of the Asian country brought books, journals, paintings and diverse creations to show their authentic roots. It was also a tribute to the research work of the Cuban essayist Ana Cairo, Social Sciences National Award-winner and to the legacy of the dramaturg Eugenio Hernández, winner of the Theatre National Award 2005. However there was much more to see, continue reading our post to know what to expect next year at the International Book Fair in Cuba and start planning your trip.

A book party at every corner

If you are a writer, an avid reader or just somebody who really likes to embed in other countries culture, then the Fair period is the exact moment to explore Cuba. From the biggest cities of Sancti Spíritus, Camagüey and Pinar del Río provinces to the hidden green mountains of Baracoa, the Book Fest goes everywhere and it is nourished by the artistic, culinary, musical and pedagogic traditions of each venue.

Havana book fair

The most famous seats of the International Book Fair are the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabaña and the Pabellón Cuba. Finished in 1774, La Cabaña is a formidable fortification situated at the Northeast region of Havana. Its construction was ordered by the Spanish crown with the objective of guarding the entrance of Havana’s Bay and keep the old city protected from enemies. Nowadays, the ancient fortress is Book Fair’s headquarter. Instead of guns and death, it shows books, children running around, several museums and breathtaking views of the Havana’s sunset.

On the other hand, the Pabellón Cuba (Cuba Pavilion) is renowned as meeting point for local young people, but during the Fest is the best place to go if you prefer a less populous environment. You could have delicious coffees, buy books and crafted art and enjoying a live concert of some of the best musicians of the island for very affordable prices.

A cultural dialogue

The International Book Fair is a space of dialogue among the literature of Northern, Southern and Latin America and Europe. It offers the possibility of engaging in interesting debates with writers, editors and distributers from the book markets. Would you like to know about the 500 colloquiums, tribute, reading, awards and books presentations prepared organized every year? Stay in touch with Espíritu Travel.

Books, books and more books

This seems obvious but there are sooooo many books to buy at very good prices. If you have some knowledge of Spanish or if you would like to continue learning, you will find an amazing selection of classic and novel authors from around the world. Cuban best editorials such as the Hermanos Loynaz from Pinar del Río or the Union from Havana, promote their yearly work in a profusion of quality and colors.

International Book Fair of Havana

And don’t worry, there are also some options in English that could surprise you!

A perfect place for children

The “Tesoro de Papel” Pavilion is dedicated to children and, as you know, children’s language is universal. Magic is everywhere and you will encounter games, music, gifts, delicious snacks, clowns and so many cultural activities to charm your kids. The International Book Fair is definitively a perfect place for children.

Literature and music: a splendid marriage

Do you like the trova, the salsa, the son, alternative and surprising rhythms? Well, you can have it all in Cuba, during the Book Fair. The organizers of such event really understand the marriage of arts and every day the public enjoys a different and wonderful suggestion.

Nevertheless, the other arts also have their place at several venues of the country: theatre plays, fine arts galleries, street dancers performances and samples of contemporary cinema are waiting for you at this Caribbean corner.

The cannon shut ceremony

Finally if you are at La Cabaña Fortress at 9:00pm, you will witness the Ceremony of the Cannon Blast. Young man, disguised as Spanish soldiers from the colonial times, perform a ceremony which remembers the epoch when Havana was protected by a huge wall of 9 doors. The cannon shot indicated the hour in which the city doors were closed (4:00 am and 9:00 pm). Today is just a piece of Cuba’s history and the best way to finish your Book Fair’s Day.

Did you like the idea? Contact Espíritu Travel today and start planning your next trip with us, our Hello Cuba trip can be the one you are waiting for. And remember, you can also experiencing the International Book Fair at many other beautiful cities of Cuba!!!

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