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 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.
Everything changed for Peru on July 28, 1821, when South American leader Jose de San Martin declared independence from Spain. A three-year struggle ensued, but Peru's freedom was solidified in December of 1824, when Venezuelan Marshall Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated a Spanish army at Ayacucho and ended Spain's South American rule.
In Miami, this celebration of Peruvian pride takes the form of the Peruvian Independence Day Festival. This annual event brings together the Peruvian-American community and the city at large for a weekend of music, dance, and art. Visitors groove to the infectious rhythms of merengue, salsa, and cumbia from live bands such as the Javier Mereno, Jr. Latin Band and Nando y su Banda Digital, along with the dance music that naturally emanates from fresh ceviche.
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.
Since 1938, the keepers of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden have cultivated more than 85 acres of floral displays with a mixture of science and art. The gardens are lush with plants valuable to scientists and educators, and the tropical landscapes designed by William Lyman Phillips are like ever-evolving canvases, blooming and fading as the seasons change. Most of the palms, cycads, flowering trees, and vines were collected from the wild, but the grounds also harbor endangered plant species.
Guides give English and Spanish tram tours as well as walking tours through specific parts of the gardens, or visitors can explore the displays at their leisure, wandering through the 16,428-square foot two-level Tropical Plant Conservatory exhibit, which blooms with orchids, fruit trees, and rare palms. Cascading waterfalls punctuate the stream flowing through the 2-acre Richard H. Simons Rainforest, where visitors admire the diverse plant life and reflect on the worldwide threat of rapidly vanishing rainforests. The Wings of the Tropics exhibit features thousands of exotic butterflies with tropical fish and rare plant life. Butterflies are released twice daily and the Butterfly Metamorphosis Lab lets kids experience them up close. The water gardens combine tranquility pools with waterfalls, sculpture, and lily pads to evoke a sense of calm.
Tucked between Biscayne Bay and Highway U.S. 1 sits Coconut Grove, which locals refer to as a village within a city. Though enveloped by Miami's sprawl, the neighborhood retains the air of a quaint seaside town, with waterfront parks, fun local eateries, and a yearly seafood festival that combines those two amenities.
The Coconut Grove Seafood Festival takes place in Peacock Park on October 20th, a mere five days after official Florida Stone Crab season opens. Vendors serve up the signature, buttery crab in local dishes, but they also bring together some of the most famous seafood flavors from around the world, using fresh caught fish. They grill fillets in Jamaican jerk seasoning, stir fry shellfish in paellas, and slice raw tuna to stuff sushi. They also boil clams and oysters in traditional New England chowders, or spice crawfish to match the hearty flavors of Cajun Jambalaya.
While the chefs ply their trade and provide cooking demonstrations for interested visitors and ambitious seagulls, musicians perform on stages and kids frolic in the family fun zone. In between food vendors' stalls, artisans peddle nautically themed arts and crafts. The festival also houses a fish market called Grove Wharf, where expert fishmongers help visitors pick out the perfect fillets for dinner.