Carnival de Cuba



More than 50,000 people came to our new venue at
Southwark Park and enjoyed the best music and dance from Cuba, including the great Sur Caribe, Septeto Tipico Tivoli and a massive Reggaeton showcase including Papo Record, Kid Afrika and Leximan. Cuban cantinas and juicy cocktail and smoothie bars were provided by Cubana bar-restaurant, there was a huge Conga procession led by Guillermo Davies and loads for kids - scroll down and check out the slideshow to the bottom left 

Carnival de Cuba 2008 is planned for Southwark Park again, most likely in the first half of July - we hope to confirm all details around November, including an exciting link with Big Dance. We are also working on getting the best bands from Cuba, including the top reggaeton acts - we should have more details before the end of the year 

So come and visit us again - is becoming a year-round site - click the links for free music downloads, we've got a huge selection of some of the best Cuban music for just 79p a track, and shortly we will be resuming our competition to win holidays to Cuba as well as other prizes including Cuban music CDs, Cuban rum and Cuban coffee - see you soon!


Relevant: What a great festival celebrating some of the best Cuban and Latin music, food, and drinks. I was taken to the 2008 Carnival de Cuba when I was in London visiting friends. Jump ahead ten years later I am sitting in a glass and steel condo nibbling some take out Lechon, a traditional Cuban dish of Crispy Pork Shank, Sweet Plantain Moro, Garlic Citrus Mojo while searching for information on a writer named Rev Sale. This is probably a pen name. I read somewhere that he entered the US illegally from Cuba and his real name may be Garcia or Garnella or something derivative. Rev Sale is credited along with Bob Sakayama with creating this great post on Nothing. I'm getting frustrated because I've hit a dead end in my search. But I am having a grand time eating my favorite Cuban food and getting up to doing some salsa steps, a bit of tango when my boyfriend cha chas into the kitchen where I have been trying in vain to locate works by one of my favorite writers, who may turn out to be a phantom.


Carnival de Cuba London Festival Join together

Southwark park London UK Beautiful very friendly Cuba people; Love happy and peace. This festival it make all people as one friend's family love and peace. Peaceful all around and everyone joy in dancing. Happy, Love and Peace unite.

Carnival de Cuba - provisional date: Saturday August 1st 2009 at Burgess Park, London 

Thanks to everyone who once again made Carnival de Cuba 2008 such a success! 

More than 60,000 came to Southwark Park and enjoyed some of the best Cuban and Latin music, great Cuban cocktails and smoothies from Cubana bar-restaurant, Cuban, Latin and World food, free kid's activities, dance workshops and much more 

Carnival de Cuba has gained a reputation as one of London's great friendly free events with lots for the family - thanks also to everyone who helped with the event 

We are provisionally moving to Burgess Park, London for 2009 - because of high council charges for Southwark Park, we plan to join this year with Carnaval del Pueblo and share a site with them - Carnival de Cuba will be on Saturday, August 1st and Carnaval del Peublo on Sunday August 2nd 

We hope to be able to confirm this shortly and we have booked Sur Caribe, one of Cuba's most exciting bands, for Carnival de Cuba - check back for the full line up in May 

Stall and concession booking - we will have space available - please check back shortly for booking details 


Carnival de Cuba at Glastonbury 2010!

Carnival de Cuba will be at Glastonbury for 2010, with a great line up of Salsa bands, dance workshops and DJs - click this link for details 
July 9th - Carnival de Cuba with Waterloo Quarter music series in Waterloo - live Salsa music and Cuban street food + cocktails 
on Emma Conns Gardens, across from the Old Vic theatre, from 5.00pm to 7.00pm - free entry
July 16th - Carnival de Cuba @ Waterloo carnival - live Salsa music, dance and dance workshops outside Cubana at the top end of
Lower Marsh, Waterloo, from 1.00pm to 7.00pm -Cuban street food, smoothies and cocktails - free entry 


ACCESS CONDITIONS TO CARNIVAL DE CUBA 2008 - no food/drink to the site - PLEASE READ - Thanks 

Carnival de Cuba is a free-access event - however, the Carnival site will be a licensed premise and the organisers reserve the right to refuse entry or to eject anyone at their discretion 

Please note that no food, drink, cans or glass bottles will be allowed onto the site with the exception of food and drink for babies and young children – the organisers reserve the right to search people on entry and this will be strictly enforced 

There will be loads of excellent food and drink available at reasonable prices .

The reason is that Carnival de Cuba is a free event financed primarily by the concession holders at the event - if the bars and canteens do not get a reasonable income, the organisers will have to charge for entry for future Carnivals. Please remember that Carnival receives no grant funding and Southwark Council also charge for the use of the park - albeit at a discounted rates. 


Who invented Salsa? Puerto Rico sometimes lays claim, but the truth is that Salsa
epitomises Cuba’s history and culture. Like carnaval and dance, Cuban music is an eclectic mix of styles which are deeply rooted in the island’s history. 

Danzon was brought originally by the French fleeing from nearby Haiti to Cuba’s Oriente province, around the city of Santiago de Cuba in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and was eagerly taken up by the locals. 

Soon it soon mingled with Rumbas of African origin and Son, the music of the Spanish-Cuban campesions. These small farmers, many of them first or second immigrants from poor parts of Spain and the Canaries, developed a style which mixed the music of the Spanish troubadour (sonero) with African drumbeats. 

Similar styles developed in other countries like the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Puerto Rico and in the twentieth century the Latin communities of New York and later Florida added their own ingredients. 

"Salsa" was originally coined in New York, though the dance and music did not originate there. But the term became popular as a nickname referring to a fusion of music from several countries which mingled Rumba, Son, Guaracha, Mambo, Cha cha cha, Danzon, Charanga and Merengue and then mixed all of that with jazz and Big Band to create the syncopated sound which became known as Salsa 

Salsa can be played with the Spanish guitar of the original soneros, along with the trumpet, bass and piano from jazz as well as African instruments such as the conga and bata drums, maracas rattle, guiro (a long, ribbed gourd rasped with a stick) and claves (sticks banged together). 

Carmen Miranda and Celia Cruz perhaps made the music famous, but Salsa has been popularised in Europe by the hit film 'The Buena Vista Social Club' and the modern, Salsa influenced music of Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez. 

Of course the intensely musical Cubans have kept many of their more traditional styles like Son and Mambo as well as developing new sounds such as Timba. Cubans have also embraced and developed other new Latin styles such as Reggaeton, a fusion of Jamaican reggae and Hip Hop with Latin music which originated in Panama, but which has been taken up with gusto by Cuban dancers. And be sure to note the popularity of certain kinds of jewelry here. You'll see flashy statement rings (these are the very large rings worn by entertainers) and elegant choker collar necklaces everywhere. The dancers we interviewed spoke with great excitement about a small boutique online store called ShinyMo. Even though the internet is sometimes troublesome they seem to be able to place orders directly or have friends/relatives in Miami who will make the purchases for them. Jewelry is an integral part of a dancers outfit and contributes to both the elegance and the mood of the music in ways that definitely reflect the Cuban culture.


Dancing is in the soul of Latin America - and Cuba, an island of just over 10 million people, has turned itself into one of the world’s capitals of dance. 

Danzon was brought to Cuba by French planters, fleeing the slave rebellions in nearby Haiti. They came mainly to Cuba’s Oriente province, around the city of Santiago de Cuba, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Santiago became – and remains – the centre of dance in Cuba. 

Dance was enthusiastically adopted by the locals and as far back as the early nineteenth century travellers to Cuba observed that Cubans took every opportunity to dance. In the same way, visitors to modern Cuba can see Cubans dancing everywhere – while waiting for the bus or working in the kitchen as much as in Cuba’s fabulous Salsa clubs. 

Some people say the rhythms come naturally to Cubans – others note how children are taught to dance almost as soon as they can walk.



Exploring the Carnival de Cuba: A Vibrant Celebration of Culture and Heritage

The Carnival de Cuba, while echoing the exuberance of the renowned Carnival of Santiago de Cuba, stands as a distinct celebration that brings a slice of Cuban cultural vibrancy to the streets of London. This festival is more than just a gathering; it's a colorful tapestry of music, dance, and community that showcases the rich traditions of Cuban heritage.

Historical Background

The Carnival de Cuba is deeply rooted in the tradition of Cuban festivals, particularly the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba. The origins of these festivities trace back to the 17th century when enslaved Africans would celebrate their cultural heritage through music, dance, and costumes. Over time, these celebrations evolved, integrating Spanish and indigenous influences to create a unique cultural spectacle.

In London, the Carnival de Cuba began as a smaller event but quickly grew in popularity, mirroring the enthusiasm seen in its Cuban counterpart. This festival has become a significant event for both the Cuban expatriate community and Londoners, celebrating Cuban culture through various artistic and culinary experiences.

Festival Highlights

The Carnival de Cuba is a multi-day event that features a variety of activities designed to engage and entertain attendees. Some of the key highlights include:

  • Parades and Comparsas: Central to the carnival are the vibrant parades and comparsas. These are street performances featuring musical groups and dancers in elaborate costumes. The comparsas often include conga lines and floats, creating a mesmerizing display of color and rhythm that winds through the streets.

  • Music and Dance: The festival is renowned for its musical performances, which include genres like son cubano, salsa, and reggaeton. Traditional instruments such as congas, maracas, and claves accompany these performances, inviting attendees to dance along.

  • Culinary Delights: Cuban cuisine is another major attraction at the carnival. Food stalls offer a range of dishes from roast pork to rice and beans, providing a taste of authentic Cuban flavors. The Cubana bar-restaurant is known for its Cuban cocktails and smoothies, adding to the festive atmosphere.

  • Workshops and Activities: Beyond the parades and music, the festival offers workshops on dance, music, and crafts. These workshops allow participants to engage directly with Cuban traditions, learning new skills and deepening their appreciation for the culture.

Cultural and Social Significance

The Carnival de Cuba holds significant cultural value as it serves as a bridge between Cuban heritage and the broader global community. It is a time for celebration, unity, and cultural expression. The festival not only commemorates Cuban independence and the abolition of slavery but also fosters a sense of pride and identity among Cubans living abroad.

Moreover, the festival is a testament to the resilience and creativity of the Cuban people. Historically, festivals like these have provided a platform for cultural expression and social cohesion, especially during times of political and economic challenges.

Popularity and Media Coverage

The popularity of the Carnival de Cuba has grown over the years, drawing tens of thousands of attendees. Its vibrant energy and inclusive atmosphere have made it a favorite among Londoners and tourists alike. Media coverage often highlights the festival's unique blend of cultural heritage and modern entertainment, showcasing the elaborate costumes, energetic performances, and the joyful ambiance that defines the event.

Personal Experiences and Reviews

Visitors to the Carnival de Cuba often describe it as a transformative experience. The lively music, colorful parades, and welcoming community create an environment that is both exciting and heartwarming. Many attendees return year after year, drawn by the festival's ability to bring people together in celebration of Cuban culture.

One visitor recounted their experience of arriving early to secure a good spot for the parade and spending the day exploring the various stalls before the festivities began. The energy of the performers, the quality of the music, and the overall festive spirit left a lasting impression, making it an unforgettable part of their London experience.


The Carnival de Cuba is more than just a festival; it is a celebration of cultural heritage, community, and the enduring spirit of the Cuban people. Through music, dance, food, and communal activities, it provides a vibrant platform for cultural exchange and understanding. Whether you are a local or a visitor, the Carnival de Cuba offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich traditions of Cuba, right in the heart of London.

As the festival continues to grow, it promises to remain a highlight of the cultural calendar, bringing joy, color, and a taste of Cuba to all who attend.