A Special Day To Experience Hispanic Culture in Miami
Calle Ocho Festival or “El Festival de la Calle Ocho” is a one-day “rumba” or fiesta that culminates the Miami Carnaval. This festival takes place in March each year between 27th Ave and 4th Ave along Southwest 8th Street, that is 23 blocks along “Calle Ocho” in Little Havana with activities for everybody.
Even though this festival is not counted amongst the official Hispanic holidays, more than one million people attend this block party to participate, and to see top Hispanic artists perform at every street intersection at the designated stages.
You can hear salsa, reggeaton, merengue, bachata, balada, hip hop and more. Personalities like El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Celia Cruz, Oscar D’Leon, El Grupo Niche and many more have made appearances at the festival.
“El Festival de la Calle Ocho” is one incredible party that in 1998 was recorded in the Guiness Book of Records for having the longest conga line in the world with 119,000 people.
A Festival for kids Also
But music is not the only attraction going on at this Hispanic festival, the super famous block party has a kid’s area with clowns, magicians, foods, and products geared to moms and children.
Another area of the festival is the party zone which is filled with a “carnaval” atmosphere with street dancers and musicians that interact with the public.
It is a novelty for non-Hispanic people to see the salseros or salsa dancers on the street. They come from the major salsa schools. But you will also see many people dancing to the same rhythms. I guess we are less inhibited and love to enjoy our music fully. It is as if we feel nobody is watching us when we dance.
Foods at “Festival de la Calle Ocho”
One of the best attractions of the festival is the food that has many typical Latin flavors, especially Cuban. It includes hundred of kiosks that offer international foods along with sampling of free products all at the rhythm of lively Hispanic music.
You can find ropa vieja con plátanos (shredded skirt steak with plantains), cabrito (baby goat), other barbecued meats, arepas (which come from Colombia, Venezuela, etc), and the delicious ceviche (seafood).
The most popular drink is Cuba Libre. To make it we use rum and coke served with a wedge of lime. You can also find fresh fruit juices at restaurants and mojito Cubano a drink that is made with white rum, lemon, and mint.
History of Calle Ocho Festival
In 1978 Cubans invited the neighborhood to know more about Cuban culture and Calle Ocho Festival was born.
This festival happens in the heart of Little Havana, a wonderful neighborhood where the festive air invades it all at any time of the day. In the mornings you can smell the sent of coffee recently brewed and enjoy a café con leche along with freshly baked pastries. At lunch time beans, rice, Cuban sandwiches, etc. are amongst the favorites you can find.
Little Havana enclave started because in the 1960s Cuban refugees began settling around Miami’s “Calle Ocho” and another major influx of Cubans occurred during the Mariel boatlift of 1980 that ended up increasing the Cuban population in this area.
The stores along Calle Ocho sell typical Cuban and more recently South and Central American products (especially Nicaraguan) as new immigrants make their way into the neighborhood.
Calle Ocho Festival is the perfect party for travelers to enjoy any Cuban and Latin food, music, art, and even “botanicas” or places that sell the products for Santeria, all in one place. Attendding Calle Ocho Festival will make you feel like being in another country without leaving the U.S.
How to Get Your Booth at The Calle Ocho Festival
Every year Club Kiwanis starts taking applicatios in December. Contact Felipe Aviles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 305-644 8888 to ask for a booth application. They accept applications up to the day of the event, depending on availability.
Booths are generally 20′ x 10′ and you are allowed to sell food, clothing, crafts, etc. For more information contact Felipe A. directly.