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