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 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 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.
Per its name, the Taste of Cuba Festival shines a spotlight on traditional Cuban food—potato-like yucca, rice and beans, and lechon asada, or shredded roast pork. Ice-cold mojitos complement these classic dishes, along with café con leche and authentic cigars rolled by hand, unlike the newfangled ones that roll themselves if left at the top of a hill. The festival delights senses beyond taste, too; revelers can dance to live music or feast their eyes on Cuban artwork.
The Taste of Brickell Food and Wine Festival serves culinary samples from nine popular Brickell restaurants, endless fine wine and spirits, and international rhythms. Chefs from such area eateries as Porcao Farm to Grill, El Vato, Tapas Xperience, and Batch Gastro Pub distribute freshly prepared portions of signature menu items, including morsels from 2014 Executive Chef Virgile Brandel (Atrio at the Conrad). Wine experts entice visitors to try new vintages by hosting tasting demos and dispensing samples. A portion of all event proceeds help fund the local charities.