Festival del Habano is the most important event for cigar aficionados. It first took place in 1999 and has since been held every year during the last week of February. The Festival occurred the 17th time in 2015.
The XVII Festival was held under the sign of two anniversaries. Participants celebrated the 25 anniversary of Casa del Habano, an international chain of cigar boutiques which today number over 140 around the world. On the occasion of the anniversary, Habanos S.A. presented a humidor with intriguing design. The humidor contains 30 Habanos vitols of the La Gloria Cubana brand in two formats: 15 Pirбmides and 15 Robustos. These cigars were made “Totalmente a Mano con Tripa Larga” (fully manually with whole-leaf filler).
The second was the 80th anniversary of the Montecristo brand. A special edition of Montecristo 80 Aniversario cigars (a unique format and a limited edition of just 30,000 vitols with a gilded bow) became the hero of the final Gala Night. Traditionally, this culmination of the festival attracts not only ordinary participants, but also a great number of celebrities. Stars like the actress and TV presenter Paris Hilton from the US and the top model Naomi Campbell shone at the XVII Festival. In all, the 2015 Festival set a new record gathering 1,650 guests from over 60 countries.
The Festival’s most ardent guests never miss the international competition HabanoSommeliers. Its participants must in practice prove their abilities in hands-on contests in cigar cutting and lighting, competent and elevated description of tasting experiences, selecting and giving arguments for an alcohol companion for a given cigar. Participants from the UK, Brazil, and Cuba became the 2015 finalists. On the final day of the Festival, they fought for the prestigious award and title of certified professional and true expert in Habanos cigars. Victory in this year’s competition which was held, by the way, the 14th time, was won by Walter Saens Rodrнguez Neto of Brazil. For the second time the international longest ash competition took place as part of the 2015 Festival and was won by Ali Alrami of Kuwait.
The official overall programme of the Festival usually includes a Welcome Night on Monday, a dinner on Wednesday, and a Gala Night on Friday, which leaves several spare nights to feel the charm of Havana in company with faithful Habanos aficionados. The festival nights are lively, with the participation of special guests. Three-time Latin Grammy award-winner Descemer Bueno and other prominent artists shone at the XVII Festival.