14TH Habano Festival, Showtime, Smokes and Glamour


Over 1,500 people from every nook and cranny of the world gather in what’s considered a token of reverence toward something that is no doubt the very best of its kind: the Habano.
Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta are the brands handpicked by Habanos, S.A. for both a world premiere in 2012 and a tribute in the Festival. Even though this is just a weeklong celebration, the meeting with a centuries-old tradition looks like a journey to the roots, something that this time around happens together with the 520th anniversary of the first encounter Europeans had with Cuban tobacco.
The Festival always reveals some big surprises and brings showbiz celebrities to the city of Havana. In this year’s edition, Phil Manzanera and Jack Bruce have traveled to the island nation to join Augusto Enriquez in the Eclectic-us show, a genuine luxury for the opening night that will also include a glamorous seafront welcome cocktail at the Cristino Naranjo Social Club, as well as a chance to puff on the Cohiba Pirámides Extra.
Then there’ll be visits to the finest tobacco plantations in Pinar del Rio’s Vuelta Abajo, the huddling with local planters – sort of agrarian gods of the Habano – the grand tours around some cigar factories, chats with colleagues and old friends attending the Tradeshow sessions, let alone a bunch of good moments sprinkled with experiences and teachings in seminars, tastings and pairings.
The Master Class on Cigar Hand Rolling is a must. The master cigar roller teaches the audience all the steps to roll a Cañonazo by hand. For its part, the Blindfolded Habano Tasting puts professional tasters, seasoned smokers and sommeliers through their paces, making them rely on their knowledge, taste and sensitivity to identify brands without any previous information whatsoever.
Having evolved as a school to spread the culture of Habano – either to wrap up a good meal or as a companion for a good drink –
the Habanosommelier Contest is once again one of the most luring side events within the Festival. In the same breath, the debut edition of the International “Habanos in Images” Contest is targeting audiovisual producers whose works are linked to this product, inspired in this first delivery by the beautiful film Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba, by James Suckling and James Orr.
The dinner to mark the 520th anniversary of the discovery of tobacco in Cuba by Europeans will also be a major function.
The launch of the Cohiba Pirámides Extra and the Reserva Romeo y Julieta – featuring its new Petit Churchill vitola – and the Series Especiales (Special Series) and the 2012 Ediciones Limitadas (Limited Editions), will certainly grab most of the attention around the Festival. The spectacular end will be the gala dinner and the fundraising auction of Habano lots destined to Cuba’s public healthcare system