Cuba is perhaps the most famous cigar producing country in the world, it brings in roughly $450 million every year from cigar exports and therefore is the country best placed to hold the largest annual gathering of cigar professionals and lovers, the Festival Del Habano. But what is this event? In this article, we’ll look at what happens at the festival and how exactly you can get on the guest list.
2019 will see the 21st Festival Del Habano being held in Havana, the country’s capital. The event will take place from Monday 18th February to Friday 22nd and based on previous years, approximately 2000 people are expected to attend.
So what actually goes on during those five days? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot! Last year’s event was a huge affair and offered attendees trips out to tobacco farms, factory tours and cigar-based seminars. All of these events are designed to give participants and the wider world a glimpse into the premium cigar producing culture in Cuba and to allow them to share their passion. Typically, evenings are unsurprisingly dedicated to smoking cigars and drinking cocktails, with parties, live music and dinners.
Last year’s event held a number of workshops allowing participants to get hands-on and improve their knowledge and appreciation of cigars. One of the workshops that was on offer was a cigar making event, where all attendees were provided with a chaveta, a rolling surface and ingredients for cigars. Another workshop was one of wine pairing. Some people say that wine can’t pair with cigars because of the acidity, however, with the seminar returning year on year, it is proving that this simply isn’t true. Last year’s event saw visitors pairing Chilean wines with a Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill cigar. Despite these, not all seminars are a hands-on experience, with some featuring guest speakers that are masters in their field. Last year, Eumelio Espino Marrero visited the festival, he is the country’s most respected tobacco geneticist, who spoke about the evolution of Cuba’s tobacco hybrids.
This year, the festival will be celebrating 500 years since Havana’s founding, with three cigars brands leading the event; Habanos S.A., Hoyo de Monterrey and Trinidad. This year will also see more visits to tobacco farms, namely in Pinar del Rio, more factory tours and interesting seminars and workshops. Unlike previous years, the cigar sommelier contest will not be held and will instead be replaced by the popular Habanos World Challenge, a game that tests knowledge of cigars and tobacco with two-person teams competing for thr top prize.
On the final night of the festival is the gala dinner, with a live auction of custom made and unique humidors and a performance by a musical artist. This year’s details are yet to be announced.
How to Attend
Unfortunately, registration for this year is over so you won’t be able to hotfoot it over to Havana and slip in a last minute attendance. Registration is typically available on the official Habanos website and is generally around November time of the previous year. Make sure to mark it down in your calendar to try and get some tickets; if you do fly over to Cuba, make sure you pack your travel humidor and take some of your own cigars with you!
In the meantime, why not try and tick a few things off your 2019 cigar bucket list? Maybe try a cigar from a new region? Let us know how you get on and if you find your new favourite, Facebook and Twitter is the place to get in touch!