Firing up the caja china, setting the menorah ablaze, or maybe just getting lit with your out-of-town cousins — these are hot holiday traditions that we Americans hold dear. But like adding another glass of Manischewitz to your dreidel spinning, Americans are always open to new traditions, especially ones that we can enjoy passively and that involve fire. Many Floridians will then likely add the ongoing Lantern Light Festival, an evening of Chinese lantern lighting, to their regular festivities this year. The fest, which makes its way around the nation, has found a winter home in this corner of the globe. The event celebrates Chinese culture and includes a 400-foot dragon, acrobats, musical performances, a huge castle to saunter through, and the release of tons of lanterns created by 80 Chinese artisans. Kids will enjoy some light face painting and minigolf — Christmas classics. The fireworks display planned for New Year's Eve is another bright event to tap into your iPhone calendar that'll keep you off Miami Beach and far from downtown but still hypnotized by pretty colors and pyrotechnics. The festival takes place at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center (10921 SW 24th St., Miami) through January 8. It's open Wednesday to Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. Tickets cost $19 to $23. Visit lanternlightfestival.com.
Let's be honest. Most years, the Capital One Orange Bowl game features the Nebraska Cornhuskers versus some other team they throttle by 56 points. But this year, the football gods have deemed fit to give us arguably the best matchup of all the bowl games outside the College Football Playoffs, when the tenth-ranked Florida State Seminoles host the sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium (347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens). The Noles have had a roller-coaster season but have enough talent and punch to make them formidable opponents. Meanwhile, the Wolverines are fresh off being snubbed from the CF Playoffs Final Four and, along with their crazy-person-of-a-head-coach Jim Harbaugh, they're looking to let out their pent-up frustration with extreme prejudice. Should be a fun game! Kickoff is at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets start at $125. Visit game.orangebowl.org.
A knock-down, drag-out fight seems like an entirely appropriate way to say so long to 2016. This was a year of epic disappointments, and everybody is bubbling over with simmering aggression. So why not spend one of the last days of the year watching adults in spandex perform a choreographed beatdown? The WWE Live Holiday Tour is coming to American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami), and none other than Saturday Night Live all-star (and Amy Schumer's most memorable fictional boyfriend) John Cena will headline. He'll share the ring with Dean Ambrose, WWE World Champion AJ Styles, WWE SmackDown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and lots of other beefed-up pro wrestlers. In total, there'll be four championship matches and more than 30 WWE stars. At least something worthwhile will come out of 2016. The event kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets start at $20. Visit ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.
Get lost at Concrete Beach Brewery's Social Hall (325 NW 24th St., Miami) when the taproom transforms into Los Jardines de la Tropical. Named for the Cuban estate in Havana — which was built to resemble the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain (and now stands somewhat abandoned and rundown) — Los Jardines de la Tropical was where the Cuban elite of the 1910s would go to play. And this Friday, in the spirit of the aforementioned party hall, the Wynwood brewhouse will celebrate the culture and heritage of "La Perla del Caribe" at its monthly pachanga. More than just a catchy name with a cool backstory, the night will transport you to pre-Castro Cuba, where el lechón will roast, la música will play, and la cerveza will be poured. Taste the flavor of the island with a pig roast; brace yourself for nonstop gozadera with live music; and enjoy a pint (or several) of Cuba's oldest beer, Cerveza La Tropical, which is now being brewed right here in the 305, courtesy of Concrete Beach. There will also be plenty of dancing and, of course, dominoes. The party goes down the last Friday of every month and runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Admission is free. Ages 21 and up. Visit concretebeachbrewery.com or call 305-796-2727.
Are you willing to bet money on a crowned mango boxing a horde of colossal mosquitoes? The largest satirical parade in the Southeast, the King Mango Strut, is themed "Zika Mania" this year, critiquing mosquito-whisperer Gov. Rick Scott's ordering of the insects not to fly outside his set boundaries. So if you're still feeling weird and angry about 2016's faux pas, join the Strut this Saturday on Commodore Plaza between Main Highway and Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove. Kids and adults of all ages are invited to participate in or watch the wacky festivities. Suggestions for parade costumes include the rising price of the EpiPen from $80 to $4,000, the Hillary shimmy, an exploding Samsung phone, a Trump University degree, Castro's coffin, and, of course, Zika. The parade begins at 1:30 p.m., when children who won the Little Miss or Mr. Mango title get to wave to the crowd from a flatbed truck. The official parade begins at 2 p.m. with the "dropping of the banana." Parade bands will keep the music going until 5 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone. Visit kingmangostrut.org or 305-582-0955.
The Miami Dolphins have been through a gauntlet of poop when it comes to head coaches in the past two decades. But in Adam Gase, they finally seem to have found a really good one. In just his first year as the boss, Gase has seemingly done the impossible by not only making the Dolphins decent again, but also making quarterback Ryan Tannehill look like a bona fide NFL QB. The Dolphins, who have had some awful luck in finding a coach who knows football, lucked into Gase. Other teams passed on hiring Gase, a rising-star assistant in Denver. The man made his name by making some mediocre QBs, such as Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton, look competent. But when other teams failed to sign Gase, the Dolphins pounced. The result: Miami is in the playoffs for the first time since color TV was invented. This Sunday, the Fins will host hated rivals the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium (347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens) to close out the regular season. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $215. Visit miamidolphins.com.
Furry creatures, feathered friends, and candy canes galore! Join in on Wild Holidays, a two-week family-friendly wildlife celebration at Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami). Explore an oversize candy-cane jungle, watch the daily animal parade and animal shows, and enjoy arts and crafts, face painting, and story time. You can even take pictures with Santa among the critters. Wild Holidays is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 8. Festivities are free with the purchase of park admission ($39.95 for adults, $32.95 for kids). Visit jungleisland.com or call 305-400-7000.
Lazy cinephiles might insist that nothing of note comes from anywhere in the world but Hollywood and that if you're forced to read subtitles, you might as well stay home and grab a good book. Boy, are they mistaken. The Aventura Foreign Film Series continues to dispel that notion, and its upcoming screening of the Italian film Mia Madre, winner of last year's Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, clearly measures up. Besides, many of us can relate to the plot. It's the story of an otherwise strong-willed woman who's caught up in crisis both personally and professionally. Racked with relationship woes and a worrisome work environment, she struggles to make sense of a chaotic world while overcoming obstacles that tend to drive people into a state of perpetual frenzy and frustration. With host Shelly Isaacs — founder, programmer, and commentator for South Florida's popular Café Cinematheque International series — leading a postfilm discussion, it's an ideal opportunity to not only share your own insights but also get some free psychiatric advice. So although the English subtitles are mandatory reading, the lessons learned should make the effort well worthwhile. Mia Madre, the fourth offering in the Aventura Film Series, will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center (3385 NE 188th St., Aventura). Tickets cost $11. Call 877-311-7469 or visit aventuracenter.org.
Sometimes all you need is a little sparkle to make your Wednesday sizzle. That's where Miss Toto comes in. If there's one "gender-bending, bodybuilding drag monster from Miami" who knows how to turn an ordinary hump day into a night you'll never forget, it's she. And if you've never experienced Bingo With Miss Toto, you'll definitely be in for a treat Wednesday at Gramps (176 NW 24th St., Miami). Sure, being crowned the bingo queen (or king) of the night is great, especially if it comes with bar tabs, drinks, and other cool swag, but the real fun comes courtesy of Miss Toto. Though her trendy (oftentimes scandalous) outfits, matching wigs, and brightly painted acrylic nails are entertaining, nothing beats her sassy and hilarious personality. After all, she prides herself on "providing you with all the laughs and booty shaking that you never knew you needed." Bingo With Miss Toto begins at 9 p.m., and admission is free. Visit gramps.com or call 305-699-2669.
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