What began as a few hundred people and a couple of stages has transformed into a two-day cultural extravaganza brimming with artists, musicians, foodies, and anyone looking to party.
Carnaval on the Mile returns Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, celebrating its 18th year on Coral Gables' Miracle Mile. Think street fair, music festival, and food- and wine-tastings fused into one mega outdoor event in honor of Carnival, the South American Mardi Gras.
"We live in a very unique place," event chairman Tom Falcon says. "Carnaval on the Mile is basically a showcase of all the different types of people, art, music, and food we have in Miami and around the country too."
The event is put on by Carnaval Miami and sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. Falcon has helped organize the festivities for more than 15 years. He says he has seen it develop exponentially since the inaugural fest in 1999. "It's grown significantly in terms of the number of [participating] fine artists and musicians and even attendees over the years," he explains.
This year, a new food-and-wine component — Cork & Fork — elevates the typical street grub and food trucks. Pisco y Nazca's Miguel Hernandez, Finka's Eileen Andrade, the Local's Phil Bryant, the Kitchen Doesn't Bite's Doreen Colondres, and Sabores' chef James Tahhan will offer tastings, cooking demonstrations, and book signings.
"I think Cork & Fork will be a very nice addition," Falcon says. "Our culinary scene is growing a lot in Miami, so having this adds a lot of value to Carnaval."
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Besides food and drinks, more than 100 local and national artists will converge on the arts village to showcase sculptures, paintings, photography, crafts, and jewelry. Three concert stages spread throughout the Mile will feature 30 acts during the weekend, including Humming House, La Santa Cecillia, and the Grammy-winning Volcan Trio.
"We'll have artists and acts from around the country. And the fact that we can bring these music acts and visual artists at no cost to the public is really a great thing."
Falcon estimates more than 100,000 attendees will shuffle in and out of the festival throughout the weekend. Admission is free, and everyone — even furry, four-legged friends — is welcomes to celebrate.
"It's really such a unique event to have in such a small city," he says. "While we are celebrating Cuban-American heritage, we're celebrating all cultures too. There's a flavor for everyone here."
Carnaval on the Mile 2016
Carnaval on the Mile is March 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The event, located in Coral Gables' Miracle Mile, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit carnavalmiami.com.