The Florida Renaissance Festival is a wholly different world––a world of jousts and costumes and turkey legs. Here be dragons, or so the armor-clad knights would have you believe. At the festival, live shows recreate the romance of the Renaissance with references to Shakespeare and swordplay on 12 different stages. Meanwhile, merchants share the secrets of their crafts, blowing unbreakable glass for spectators and selling hammered pewter goblets. Visitors, dressed in period garb or not, can wander on their own, exploring the shows and stalls, or trying their hands at games of chance while gnawing on scotch eggs and chocolate cheesecake.
A fund-raising event for The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, Rocks for Education aims to draw audiences with a family-friendly mix of music, comedy, and more. Emmy winner and Local 10 News anchor Laurie Jennings will serve as the event's emcee, and stars David Henrie of Wizards of Waverly Place and Drake Bell of Drake & Josh will engage spectators with songs, comedy, and other unmimed entertainments. Performances by local dance teams and American Idol contestant Symphony Music Howlett will add to the rhythmic stew, making the event more melodic than a Broadway musical about Mozart and the pianos who loved him. The evening's beneficiary, The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, bolsters learning for little ones with advocacy, parent/teacher training, and resources such as a demonstration school.
The Florida Cajun Zydeco festival's seven musical acts fill the air with traditional tunes on two outdoor stages. Wooden dance floors and guided dance lessons (held in between sets) encourage rug-cuttery as the C’est Bon Cajun Dance Band wails away on fiddle and guitar, and the multi-instrumentalist Magnolia Sisters reinvigorate forgotten standards more effectively than auto-tuned re-mixes of Glen Miller's catalogue. Each band also gives a 20- to 30-minute lesson about the history of their music. Visitors can suppress unruly appetites with spicy Cajun and Creole fare while perusing the offerings of craft vendors. Pintsize patrons can revel in games and rides, while larger patrons can revel in the festival's free parking.
On Saturday, December 11, the 39th Annual Winterfest Boat Parade will delight an estimated one million guests with a nighttime march of brilliantly decorated boats, kicking off Fort Lauderdale’s Centennial celebration in the process. Today’s deal gets you an adult ticket for entry to the Grandstand viewing area, which opens at 3:30 p.m. and includes access to interactive, family-friendly games, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and refreshments. The boat parade begins its 12-mile water crawl downtown at 6:30 p.m., and by 7:30 p.m. appears at the Grandstand viewing area to astound the audience with a slow-motion stampede of brightly lit floaters, including The Clydey Foundation’s Centennial Cirque Showboat, the Sky Limo Airplane Barge, and the Baptist Health Santa Showboat, which illuminates the night with 1,500 LED lights to guide St. Nick back to his beachfront winter home.
During Aventura Wine & Food Festival, restaurants, delis, confectionaries, and wineries from all over the city kick off the new year with some of their finest wares. Guests can sample South American cuisine at The Knife Argentinian steakhouse, Luca Bella Gourmet Mexican, and Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, or get a taste of European fare at Brio Tuscan Grille and Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery. For smaller snacks, there's Alisa's Cupcakery, Shawnee's Gourmet Popcorn, and Cachito Coffee & Bakery. And then there's the wines: Mas Vino supplies beverages from all over the country, Epica displays some locally grown vintages, and those with an insatiable sweet tooth can indulge in dessert-themed drinks from Ice Cream Cellars and Birthday Cake Vineyards. Meanwhile, live music keeps toes tapping, and a wine raffle feeds guests' competitive nature. Children can enjoy bounce houses and kid-friendly activities in the Kid-Zone, sponsored by Whole Foods.
Part art exhibit, part educational event, and part film festival, Caribe Arts Fest corrals all three elements and sets them to a soundtrack of live music during a full weekend that celebrates Caribbean culture. Thursday and Friday arm guests with learning opportunities during workshops that tackle financial issues, personal marketing plans, and creating for-profit artist businesses. On Saturday, participants can head to interactive art stations, get their faces painted to cover up any extra faces, and sample Caribbean cuisine. They can also take Zumba lessons and groove to live music from Rootz Underground and Spam Allstars. Sunday ushers in films including RasTa: A Soul's Journey, which follows Rita and Bob Marley's granddaughter on a global journey exploring Rastafari's impact, and Better Mus' Come, a love story set amid political and social turmoil in Jamaica.