Special Programs

  • Look here for upcoming Special Events, Special Tours to join, and Special Pricing





  • A great month for gardens, celebrations, and all of our tours

November 2013

  • Bi-annual International Choral Festival. Calling all choristers and music lovers – international choirs invited. Non-competitive festival.

Tours in and around Habana

One of the oldest cities in the Americas, Habana is a unique mixture of centuries of building and rebuilding. Step out into 16th, 17th, or 18th century in the heart of Habana Vieja. Elegant streetscapes of Spanish urban life; magnificent city homes, apartments and office buildings; all finding new life as hotels, restaurants, artists’ studios, galleries and bookstores. Vibrant colours, and bright sunlight bring a lightheartedness to all adventures.

Habana entered the 20th century prepared for the modern age. Railroads, automobiles, telephones were more common in Cuba than in many parts of Europe and North America. Rich beyond belief, the owners of sugar mills, mines, railroads, banks and expanding businesses built homes, businesses, financial centres, department stores and places of entertainment. Goods poured in from Europe and the United States, the latest automobiles, fine laces and linens. This was the age of enormous public works, of King Sugar, Casinos, Mafia, and above all Money.

Join our day-long tours of exploration. All our tours are led by local experts accompanied by experienced translators. Lunch is included.

Architecture tours

The riches of 500 years of architecture are like a confectioner’s window – a bit of the 15th century, here the 16th, and over there a street from the 19th.

Join us for an exploration of the built environment. Explore how people lived and the continuing importance of those buildings as part of the city’s living and working space.

1. Habana Vieja

This splendid walking tour of Habana Vieja takes you through the 4 principal squares of the old city and some of its principal streets, into projects and private homes. The story of Habana Vieja and its growing financial capability, the preservation of the social integrity of the old city, and the continuation of the preservation of buildings in face of hurricanes and floods is fascinating. For tourists and residents alike there are street performers, theatre, music and art.

2. Architecture of the Republic Period

Habana’s architects joined the rush into the future – creating a new form of architecture, peculiarly Cuban. Homes, hotels, apartment and commercial buildings were created in the new flexible materials of the age – ferro-concrete, galvanized steel, neon, and early plastics. This was the age of Art Deco and Eclectic architecture, the age of Cubism and Realism.

The period of the Republics was one of enormous growth in the city and its suburbs. Palatial mansions, sparkling apartment buildings, hotels and country clubs were all fed by the frenzy of money making – both legal and not. The mafia ran Habana and much of the rest of the country. With the reputation of the prettiest girls and the crookedest tables, there was money to splash around.

Money laundering took the form of hotel and casino investments and the deep luxury of tropical style homes in a lush country where help was cheap and willing to work. Sugar, tobacco, coffee, banking, ranching and mining all contributed to a feeling of wealth limited only by the time you devoted to it.

Republic Tour 1

The part known as Centro de Habana was the first part of the city to feel the change. Houses from previous centuries were replaced by hotels and apartment buildings, the Capitola and other public buildings. Next came Vedado, smaller houses on large lots were replaced by large two and three story homes with marble entries, decorated ceilings, enormous stained glass windows, garages, and swimming pools.

The tour takes you to mansions now converted into office buildings, hotels, and even private homes. This is very much a “behind the scenes” tour, with special access granted by the proud inhabitants of these enchanting and exciting buildings.

Republic Tour 2

Until the 1910’s the suburbs of Playa and Marinao were principally farms. With the expansion of roads, the use of the automobile and the building of a bridge across the Almendares River, the whole area west of Habana became open for development.

This was virgin territory – and the rich built structurally fascinating homes. This was the time of the great modern architects, absorbing the modern, world styles and creating architecture that was quintessentially Cuban.

This tour explores significant buildings from this period; private homes and clubs, public and religious spaces,. Buildings full of sunlight and graceful stairs, homes with quiet contrasts and elegant outdoor spaces, splendid avenues and quiet treed streets which make these some of the most beautiful suburbs one could encounter. The heritage of turbulent times, undisturbed for decades.

Arts in Cuba

From the earliest works of the artisans through to the explosion of work in the 20th century, Cuban artists have contributed to the lively debates, the civil and religious life of the country, and the interpretation of our understanding of society.

The tour begins with a survey of the fine Cuban collection in the Fine Arts Museum and continues on with visits to galleries and collections and finally through some of Habana’s striking murals both past and present.

Studio Tour

This tour takes you into the tremendous arts scene in Habana. Established artists, collectives, and young artists open their studios, talk about their art and their lives as artists.

Government support for the arts at all levels is enormous. Children are encouraged at every level to draw, paint, sing, dance, and enjoy participating. Special Arts teachers are being graduated to continue this strong tradition. Cuba’s national hero, Jose Marti, is most often portrayed on a white horse leading his troops into the battle which cost his life; but his true legacy is poetry, literature, and learning; and a perception of the importance of all arts in the culture definition of a country.

The artists you will meet are the products of this support and encouragement. Some may have participated in assisting hurricane victims in recovering from the trauma of losing homes and communities; others may have been on mission to other countries to encourage the growth of indigenous arts; others may participate in community development. Whatever they do as an artist is an expression of the validity of artistic expression.

Other Programming

History of Immigrant Peoples of Cuba

1. History of the Jews in Cuba

Jews arrived in Cuba early in its history. The stories say that one of Christopher Columbus’s crew was a Jew. They arrived little by little from the Ottoman Empire as it slowly disintegrated, and from the Pale of Russia as life deteriorated into poverty and pogroms. Immigration received a large impetus as the Turkish Empire changed the rules of military service, sending young men from all walks of life off into the world. The revolution in Russian and the persecution of Jews in Germany and later Austria served as further impetus.

Spend two days visiting the old city, the several synagogues, and the two cemeteries. Visit with people whose families came more than a century ago to find a more tolerant land.

Your guide is, herself, a descent of one of those Sephardic families from the Turkish Empire, a Master of Arts with a specialty in Jewish arts, culture and history.
For those of you with time – visit Santiago de Cuba to meet with the Jewish community there. The synagogue in Santiago de Cuba was built in 1936 – a year not noted elsewhere for the building of new synagogues.

2. African Symbolism in Cuban Art, Music and Dance

The African religions are an important source of folklore and symbolism which informs and defines much of Cuban art, music and dance.

This tour includes some of the more important museums, religious sites, public and private spaces of several of the more common African belief systems. Understand the connections between Christianity and Yoruba religions, between masters and slaves, between Africa and the New World, and enjoy a deepening appreciation of the multi-cultural society which is Cuba.