Parrandas de Remedios is Cuba’s oldest festival. Travel to Cuba with Ker & Downey during Christmas to experience the festivities of Parrandas de Remedios.
Dating back to 1820, Parrandas de Remedios is Cuba’s oldest festival. The young Father Francisco Vigil de Quiñones was priest of the Grand Cathedral of Remedios. He noticed a drop in attendance at midnight mass during the week leading up to Christmas. Hoping to attract parishioners, he instructed children to go out into the streets with any type of noisemaker – jars, spoons, horns, cans – and make a raucous. The noise, the young priest hoped, would drive the parishioners out of their homes and into church for mass.
Today’s holiday celebrations in Remedios are renowned as some of the oldest and most extravagant in Cuba. They feature late-night street parades with rumba percussion ensembles, ornate float displays, costumed participants, music and verses, and a massive fireworks competition.
In the mid-19th century, the festivities became competitive. The eight neighborhoods divided themselves into two groups – El Carmen and El Salvador. Each year, they compete among each other to see who can create the most opulent float and light show. The competition is serious too. As many as 300 people spend months in workshops preparing the floats, adorning them with as many as 13,000 light bulbs.
The festivities culminate on December 24th with a “rival rumba” between El Carmen and San Salvador.
Over the years, the festivities of Parrandas have spread throughout Cuba. But nowhere rivals the festive energy of Remedios.
Parrandas de Remedios with Ker & Downey
Experience Parrandas de Remedios unlike anyone else with Ker & Downey. We’ll take you inside the studio of one of the parade’s artists, whether it’s a percussionist, musician, or dancer, for a one-on-one visit. Learn about Parrandas de Remedios from a participant for the ultimate insider-access. Please note, Parrandas de Remedios is an incredibly unique celebration and should be booked a year in advance.