Cuba’s Annual International Book Fair Coming Up

Anyone planning to be in Havana Cuba in February 2016? If so, may I suggest you take in two things in addition to the pleasures of sun, beach life, mojitos and touring Old Havana to enjoy the fabulous architecture of this UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

Cubans are hungry for new books to read, so they throng by the thousands to the annual International Book Fair in Havana. It will take place from February 11th to 21st featuring publishers and publications from all over the world. The venue for the Book Fair is The Citadel, a former military barracks–a maze of alleyways and exhibits crowded with Cubans seeking an opportunity to buy books and score “freebies”. The Fair is a special treat for Cubans who often feel isolated from the rest of the world, so it’s a great place to see enthusiastic book lovers in action. For people watchers, there are always lots of international visitors to see as well. If you go, be sure to wear comfortable shoes because the weather is likely to be hot, and the pavement is mostly cobblestone or otherwise quite rough. When the Fair ends in Havana, it then travels to other cities throughout the island.

My second suggestion is to visit the Literacy Museum. It houses all the documentation, artifacts, photographs and related history of the literacy campaign of 1961 when Cubans volunteered by the hundreds of thousands to teach a million illiterate people to read and write in less than one year. That remarkable campaign changed history for Cuba and is still held up by the United Nations as the most successful literacy campaign in the world. Make sure you find out hours of operation before going.

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