Puro Sabor 2020 will be Jan. 22-25, 2020.
The Asociación Nicaragüense de Tabacaleros (ANT), the Nicaraguan tobacco association, has been working to finalize details for the event, which will return next year. As of Aug. 12, the festival’s website has been updated and is now accepting registrations for the event.
Puro Sabor has historically started in the southern area of the country, either in the capital of Managua or the colonial city of Granada. After a couple of days there, the festival moves north to Estelí, the heart of the country’s cigar-making operations. Once there, guests visit a handful of factories and farms. One unique part about the Nicaraguan festival is that most of the meals take place at either tobacco farms or cigar factories, meaning attendees get to eat their lunches in barns with tobacco hanging over their heads.
The festival began in 2010, though it was canceled in 2012 and 2013 as the ANT tried to determine a better approach to operating a cigar festival. Puro Sabor returned in 2014 with a new format and in 2015 the event began expanding dramatically. In 2018, the event was bigger than ever before and seemed to be reaching the limits of how many hotel rooms were available in Estelí.
Puro Sabor 2019 was canceled due to civil unrest in Nicaragua and there has been uncertainty as to whether the festival would take place in 2020. In April 2018, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega announced that the country would revamp its pension system, including cutting payouts to citizens by 5 percent. That sparked protests, which morphed into a referendum on Ortega, and then violent clashes between the protestors and the government and its paramilitary allies.
At least 300 have died and thousands have been injured as a result.
Ortega has largely prevailed. He ignored calls to resign, declined to make elections earlier, much of the opposition has fled the country or been arrested; and as recently as this week, announced that he would stop negotiating with the opposition.
While protests and violence have decreased dramatically, many parts of Nicaragua’s economy continue to struggle due in part to the unrest in 2018, as well as from a decreased supply of money and oil from Venezuela. That’s particularly relevant to Puro Sabor, which received large financial contributions from Nicaraguan banks who sponsored the event.
The country’s cigar industry—which almost exclusively exports its products—remains healthy, though many factories shut down during the height of the violence and the consequences of Nicaragua’s overall economic issues—like inflation and increased taxes—affect workers and owners.
Most importantly for the festival is the safety of travelers, which by all accounts is back to pre-2018 levels. Many companies like My Father and Perdomo have continued to operate their own trips to Nicaragua since the situation stabilized in mid-2018.
Earlier this week, the Nicaraguan government issued an alert over dengue fever, saying that it has killed at least eight people and sickened over 50,000 people this year.
Update (Aug. 12, 2019) — The Puro Sabor festival is now accepting registrations, and has announced that pricing will be $1,600 for a single registration or $3,100 for a double registration. Additionally, the festival will officially begin in Managua with an optional trip to Granada as one of the early activities. The festival will then move to Estelí, home to numerous cigar factories for a program that includes farm and factory visits as well as nightly dinners.
Click here to see halfwheel’s coverage of previous Puro Sabor festivals.
This story was originally published on Aug. 2, 2019.