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.
First opened in 1968, the Electric Factory has been hosting rock shows for almost as long Puerto Rico has been a state. After dancing their faces off to headliners from Erykah Badu to the Dropkick Murphys, concertgoers can stop by The Chive Caf? to recharge with a cheesesteak or an all-beef hotdog on a potato bun, or refill their draft Yuengling at the bar. In summer, the Electric Factory reveals an outdoor location complete with more refreshment booths, vendors, and upgraded food stands.
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.
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.
In an effort to banish the long waiting lines and spread-out obstacles of other mud runs, the organizers of Armageddon Ambush, The Extreme Mud Run, have designed a fun and unique competition that is extreme and unpredictable with more than 15 professionally constructed obstacles built by licensed contractors, including climbing walls and tire pits. To keep things unpredictably colorful, they also set up powdered color ambushes throughout the course. An after-party with beer, food, and live music offers participants an opportunity to dance off the mixture of mud and paint, a much more fun alternative to showering and a much safer one than rolling around on a cop's freshly washed squad car. (However, washing off is also available.)