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.
The Seminole Hard Rock Wine & Food Festival is a new tradition—it started in 2010—but its creators hope to make it a lasting part of South Florida foodie culture. Amidst cuisine from renowned local eateries such as Tatu and Council Oak, guests can relax in several different lounges, from a spa area for women to a men's lounge with a big screen TV. The Caribbean lounge surrounds festival goers with assorted rums and tropical rubs, all cooked up by Chef Creole. Sponsors include NBC 6, Lite-FM, and the Miami Herald, and a portion of the profits will benefit the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundation.
The SweetTooth Soiree spotlights the top bakeries, candy-makers, and dessert experts in South Florida. Vendors dish out samples of their signature sweets, including gooey brownies, artfully frosted cakes, and rainbow-colored candy. The entertainment ranges from DJ-spun tunes to dessert-making demos, which teach visitors to create confections more sophisticated than a mud pie covered in edible gold leaf.
In Joni Sheram's one-woman play, Cups, the playwright gives audiences a peek into her packed lingerie drawer through intimate knowledge of her history and character via the progression of tangled straps and faded lace. As Sheram pulls out assorted bras, she reminisces on the myriad memories marked by the quotidian bits of fabric, from the hopeful clasp of a training bra to the daunting responsibility marked by a nursing bra. A strapless bra is used to convey coming-of-age anecdotes, and a heap of ashes commemorates a bra burned during the firewood famine of the 1960s. Hailed as hilarious by scads of reviewers and department-store managers, the play also touches on aging, loss, and decades of women's personal and collective history.
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.