Its town motto, “Siempre adelante,” touts Holguín as always being ahead, but you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you visit. Tucked inland about 25 miles from the nearest beach resort, Holguín offers refreshing places to hang out surrounded by locals.
A Walk in the Park
Known as the city of parks, Holguín enfolds five tree-lined public squares in its central district. At the very core, Parques Calixto Garcia provides an ideal place to meet residents who gather nearly 24/7 to enjoy the shade. Citizens congregate in the tree-lined square on weekend nights to converse, sip a local brew or dance to music wafting from Gavinete Caligari, a nearby terrace nightclub. Live concerts provide more reasons to hang out at Parque Calixto Garcia on Thursdays and Sundays.
You’ll be whistling “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while watching the Perros take up the field at the Estadio General Calixto Garcia. The Perros are one of the top teams in the country with a 2002 Cuban national baseball championship to their credit, so prepare to rub elbows with the locals if you decide to go. If baseball isn’t your thing, catch a boxing match at Combinado Deportivo Henry García Suárez for more sporting thrills—it’s home to three of Cuba’s Olympic medalists. You can even get some personal time in the ring by signing up for a non-contact sparring session.
The city’s festivals draw Holguineros (or Holguín locals) by the score. Join the parade of pilgrims up the 465 steps to La Cruz Hillock to partake in a special religious ceremony during the first week of May. Not the religious type? Hike up to the always-open bar at the top instead and toss back a cool drink while taking in the panoramic views. Later you can enjoy the party atmosphere in the city with live music, a national rap competition, poetry and more. Carnaval sweeps into the city during the third week of August, complete with parades of colorful costumes, live music that will have you dancing in the streets, lip-smacking roast pork and other tasty treats.
Throw Back a Cold One
Pass on the mojito in favor of a refreshing, locally made beer. The area’s pristine spring water and other indigenous ingredients combine to produce the island’s favorite beers: Bucanero and Cristal. Sip on a few with the Holguineros at Taberna Mayabe, where the brew is served up in ceramic mugs. While you’re at it, try the namesake beer, Mayabe, made famous by Pancho the beer-drinking donkey. Pancho drank more than 61,750 beers over the course of his life at the Hotel Mirador southeast of town. He died shortly after imbibing for the last time on the afternoon of Nov. 20, 1992. Panchito III, his descendant, currently keeps up the tourist attraction.
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