Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Havana, Cuba

New Year’s Eve in Havana is traditionally not a major public celebration. Locals usually stay at home with their family eating roast pork and yucca before throwing buckets of water over their balconies onto the streets below. On this evening many tourists end up at overpriced dinners and shows.

The Old Havana (Habana Vieja) late afternoon streets contained suckling pigs either dressed waiting on a spit or already roasting over coals.

Suckling pig on spit balanced against a Havana wall

Suckling pig on spit balanced against a Havana wall

Havana is a popular end of year destination and if you intend to visit, book your accommodation long in advance. Rocío and I hadn’t reserved and when we arrived in late November our accommodation, Casa Las Idilias, was already booked out for Christmas and New Year. Thankfully, they let us to stay in a relative’s room on our return. We heard Viñales was also full, with tourists sleeping in parks over the new year.

New Year's Eve at Casa Las Idilias, Habana Vieja

New Year’s Eve with the other guests and our host family at Casa Las Idilias, Habana Vieja

We enjoyed the evening sharing food and drinks with our hosts and the other international guests.

New Year's Eve dinner at Las Idilias featured the traditional roast pork and yucca

New Year’s Eve dinner at Las Idilias featured the traditional roast pork and yucca

As midnight neared, containers were commandeered, filled with water and placed on the balconies, ready to be unleashed. Tossing the water symbolises removing all the bad from the previous year. Following is video of the water-throwing from our accommodation:

Afterwards, Rocío and I walked to Old Havana’s centre. There, people on balconies were aiming water at pedestrians below.

Havana streets splashed with water early on 1 January 2017

Havana streets splashed with water early on 1 January 2017

We dodged the water, joining heaving masses in a bar playing live Cuban music and pouring Cuba libres (5 CUC/US$5 each). From our safe position we observed the balcony snipers aim their buckets below.

In a bar in the early hours of New Year's Day; the 2 other people are probably watching pedestrians dodge water thrown from balconies above

In a bar in the early hours of New Year’s Day; the 2 others in picture are likely watching pedestrians dodge water thrown from balconies above

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