Things To Do

The Ten Best Things to Do in Miami This Week

Thursday, December 10

The Nutcracker is a classic tale filled with drama, heroics, and fanfare. As usual, however, history is written by the victors; the Mouse King is considered evil, and the Nutcracker is the knight in shining armor. That's just one side of the story.

The Mouse King takes another perspective. This original tale, told by puppets created by Noel MacNeal, features music and songs by award-winning composer Jim Camacho. The show is the perfect way to expose your kids to an alternative viewpoint of the classic, and that's a lesson best learned as early as possible.

The performance includes a cast of students and locals, so you'll be supporting the South Florida community too. Take your little ones to the Mandelstam Theater (8530 Red Rd., South Miami) to see the Mouse King, listen to some lively tunes, and put an end to negative rodent stereotypes perpetuated by works such as Ratatouille. The show runs this Thursday through Sunday; showtimes are 10 a.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $15. Visit or call 305-662-2736. 

Friday, December 11

New York's subway system is famous for its multitude of buskers. What's a busker? Plainly put, it's that guy playing the bucket drums for some extra cash or that woman covered head-to-toe in silver paint playing a living statue. If you let them, these performers brighten your day and bring culture to our streets, and Buskerfest Miami Street Performance Festival thinks NYC isn't the only place that should get in on the fun.

For a third year in a row, Buskerfest Miami will invade downtown this Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., taking over Metromover's Inner Loop stations and special locations peppered throughout the area. Local artists will perform 45-minute sets to the delight of onlookers, a truly special way to unwind after a long, hard week. Official Buskerfest Miami "passports" available at every station will contain special deals and offers for nearby restaurants, shops, and bars. Everyone is invited to the big close-out party at the Tina Hills Pavilion in Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami), where the local harmonica-driven blues boys of Juke will play a set and where your passport will gain you a free raffle entry for a chance to win cool prizes. Admission and participation are free. Visit

Even in South Florida, where winter temperatures rarely dip below 65 degrees, the holiday season elicits a sense of shiver-inducing joy (even if it is just from the frigid air conditioning). The imagery of brightly painted wooden soldiers in tall hats and Tinker Bell-esque sugar-plum fairies floating in circles in Disney's Fantasia are inescapable visual triggers for one of the most recognizable pieces of holiday music ever penned: Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. This year, the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center (3385 NE 188th St., Aventura) will host a special one-off production of the ballet specifically designed for kids in grades 4 through 8 as part of its Smart Stage Matinee Series.

In the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida's version of the story (led by artistic director Vladimir Issaev), much of the famous fairy tale remains the same. Young Clara Stahlbaum's Christmas toys come to life as the clock strikes midnight Christmas Eve, and she follows them into a fantastical world of dreamlike adventures. However, because classical music and traditional French ballet can be impenetrable even for some adults, the junior ballet company has prepared a special study guide for teachers and students to help them understand and appreciate this timeless theatrical performance.

Showtime is 10:30 a.m. Friday. Tickets cost $10. Call 305-466-8002 or visit

Saturday, December 12

Most parents have the unfortunate task of taking their children to visit Santa Claus each December, which usually means waiting in long lines with cranky tots in crowded, hot shopping malls. Miami moms and dads, however, get a far brighter option courtesy of the Deering Estate at Cutler (16701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay).

This Saturday, Saint Nick will visit the estate for Story Time & Photos With Santa, located in the property's historic Stone House Ballroom. Children can also participate in holiday arts and crafts while parents admire the estate's beautiful holiday decor. Story Time & Photos With Santa runs from 10 a.m. to noon. Attendance is free with estate admission, which costs $12 for adults and $7 for children ages 4 to 14. Photos with Santa are available for $5 to $10. Call 305-235-1668, ext. 233, or visit

During the holidays, we scrounge for dollars and pennies to buy presents to share with loved ones. But what about the kids out there who aren't so lucky? The season is also a time for charity, and there's no better way to raise funds for the future of Miami's at-risk youth than simply enjoying a stirring performance from internationally acclaimed soul singer Nicole Henry.

The third-annual Winter Concert to benefit the Miami Children's Initiative is the easiest, most pleasurable way to give back this season. The Miami Children's Initiative is a nonprofit that aims to reshape the Liberty City community by transforming the lives of its children and helping to support their hard-working families. Experience for yourself why Henry is the 2013 Soul Train Award winner and why she has topped Billboard's soul charts three times. She hits the stage at the Colony Theatre (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) this Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m., but a special reception for VIPs begins at 6:30. Tickets cost $30 to $45 for general admission and $125 for the VIP package. Call 305-674-1040 or visit

Just the Funny, an already-prolific improv and sketch comedy troupe, is adding yet another skill to its resumé: Spanglish. Every Friday and Saturday, the Miami-based group and comedy school puts on shows, ranging from the slower, long-form Chicago style (which builds on character interaction) to the zany, fast-paced Whose Line Is It Anyway format familiar to most people. This Saturday, Just the Funny will get spicy with Miami flavor when it presents its Spanglish-speaking show, ¿Qué Pasa Improv?

The name is a reference to the title and spirit of ¿Qué Pasa, USA?, the classic late-'70s TV sitcom based on the trials and tribulations of a Cuban-American family adjusting to life in Little Havana and the United States in general. If ¿Qué Pasa Improv? is anywhere near as funny as its namesake, Spanglish-speaking comedy fans across South Florida will have a new reason to laugh their culos off.

The all-ages show begins at 7 p.m. at the Just the Funny Theater & Training Center (3119 Coral Way, Miami). Tickets cost $5. Call 305-693-8669 or visit

It's time once again for O Cinema's monthly installment of its series Cine al Fresco, which transforms the cinema's Wynwood courtyard into an outdoor screening room. After an unfortunate cancellation last month due to inclement weather, Cine al Fresco will finally present the much-anticipated feature Talashimaii, directed by Carla Forte and Alexey Taran. It's described by the duo as an experimental film that "seeks to highlight the beauty of the simple and the quotidian, to rescue those moments, full of life, that characterize us as human beings beyond social, racial, or gender distinctions. Talashimaii is where happiness is a deep and authentic positive, fulfilling state of being that is lasting and not merely transient and ultimately unsatisfying, requiring constant modification."

The filmmakers — who founded the production company Bistoury, which concentrates on physical theater and film — offer Talashimaii this Saturday at 8 p.m. for a showing under the stars at O Cinema Wynwood (90 NW 29th St., Miami). The most exciting thing this time around is that the film will feature a live score directed by Dama Vicke and Dee Bertoldi. Admission is free. Visit

Sunday, December 13

"At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year." So says Seinfeld's Frank Costanza on his personally invented holiday, Festivus. Funnily enough, many American families have the same tense conversations each Christmas but without the promise of feats of strength and other oddities. Festivus' no-bullshit minimalism has caught on with a lot of holiday haters, who trade the typical gift-and-tree trends for a bare metal pole and zero frills.

Paying homage to this special non-holiday, the Abbey Brewing Company presents its annual Festivus Party, where Seinfeld fans can enjoy Festivus-themed cocktails, complimentary Festivus fare (let's hope for some "Happy Festivus"-embroidered yarmulkes), and a killer craft beer lineup. Those feeling extra-festive can get in the running for four $50 gift certificates for a bar tab, awarded to the best Kramer, Jerry, George, and Elaine look-alikes.

The party starts Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Abbey (1115 16th St., Miami Beach). Admission is free; anyone 21 or older is welcome. Call 305-538-8110 or visit

Toast to the holidays by clinking teacups at Madi's Tea Garden. The tea room's Holiday Tea will feature a bevy of tea flavors, a white-hot chocolate station, and a range of small, tasty bites including finger sandwiches, cranberry or toffee-pecan scones, and a dessert buffet. Those with larger appetites can try the roast turkey and cornbread-sausage casserole. There will be live music too, and every guest will receive a holiday treat to take home.

The tea party begins at 2 p.m. Sunday at Madi's Tea Garden Tea Room (4009 SW 152nd Ave., Miami). Seating is limited; to ensure that you sit with your preferred guests, buy tickets at for the entire party and list individual names for each ticket. Call 786-801-0668. 

Wednesday, December 16

Try as we might, the average family's holiday decorations can't compare to the Christmastime splendor of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. This Wednesday, Miamians can go back in time through the museum's history with Inside Vizcaya: Holiday Evening, a festive gathering to honor James Deering's arrival on Christmas Day 1916, which was marked with a party.

To honor that special day 99 years later, as well as the holiday season, Vizcaya's main house will open at night, an opportunity available to the public only once or twice per year. The grounds will be decorated as Deering might have done nearly a century ago, with poinsettia-lined walkways, ivy wreaths and garlands, and a massive tree full of Old World ornaments. The lovely sights will be set to the sounds of classic holiday music playing on an organ. Guests will receive a complimentary holiday drink and are invited to explore the grounds — from the courtyard and the bedecked living room to the café and shop.

Inside Vizcaya: Holiday Evening takes place Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Vizcaya (3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami). Admission costs $20 for adults and $15 for children. Call 305-250-9133 or visit

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Miami New Times staff