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Cuban Arts & Culinary Festival

November 2013

  • The Melbourne Review

The Exuberant Island Nation Comes to the Hotel Windsor

Believe it or not, there are other carnivals in Melbourne in the coming weeks beyond just the traditional Spring Racing.

At the Hotel Windsor, Melbourne’s first Cuban Arts & Culinary Festival – sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba – is set to burst into life in its Wallis & Ed function venue from November 4 to 9.

Highlights will include a showing of 23 paintings by Cuban artists, many not seen before in Australia, famed Cuban dancers Eric and Chantal Turro Martinez, platters of Cuban food based on recipes provided  by the wife of the Cuban Ambassador to Australia, Cuban music, and of course, Cuban rum and cigars.

“The Embassy of the Republic of Cuba is proud to sponsor this festival at Melbourne’s historic Windsor Hotel,” Cuban Ambassador to Australia Pedro Monzon said. “Cuba’s complex history and culture is a reflection of primarily Spanish, African and Chinese influences, along with French influences from Haiti. These have merged over many, many years to produce the exuberant and unique Cuban culture that is now respected around the world and that fascinates so many people.

“Cuban music and dance and Cuba’s visual arts are among the best known aspects of Cuban culture and, along with our food, will be showcased at the festival in a way not previously seen in Melbourne.”

The hotel’s CEO David Perry said the week-long festival would be a vibrant and unique celebration of a special country.

“Cuba retains a mystique for many people, although the power and beauty of its visual arts, music and dancing is known and revered around the world,” he said. “This will be a one-off experience, and the chance for many Melbournians to see and learn more about Cuba.

“We’re very fortunate to have the full support of the Embassy and their guidance in putting the Festival together,” he added. “It will ensure an authenticity that would simply not be possible to achieve otherwise, and has opened doors to access the very best of Cuba, from ingredients for the menu to the quality of the music, dancing and paintings.”

Cuban dancer Eric Turro Martinez, known as the king of Cuban traditional dance, was lead dancer during the 1990s with the Buena Vista Social Club in Havana. He now teaches Cuban dance in Australia with Australian-born Chantal Martinez. They will appear, along with a four-piece band, on November 4 and 5.

The Wallis & Ed al fresco dining space on Bourke Street will be open for those wanting to enjoy a fine Cuban cigar along with their rum cocktail.

“Until you’ve tried an aged Cuban rum, you haven’t tasted rum,” Perry added.

The festival continues the Hotel Windsor’s focus on supporting contemporary art and cultural initiatives in Melbourne, following the recent very successful exhibition of artworks created by Victorian College of the Arts students to celebrate the hotel’s 130th anniversary. The hotel’s exterior has also been illuminated as part of a three-week light show.

The Cuban Festival is open from Monday, November 4 to Saturday, November 9 from 5pm until late, at the Hotel Windsor,111 Spring St, Melbourne.



1) Eric and Chantal Turro Martinez

2) Eric Turro Martinez

3) Artwork by Cuban artist Ileana Mulet




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