Culture

Your Guide to Calle Ocho Festival 2016

It's that time of year again, when the weather is perfect and the supercrazy, superawesome folks of Miami converge for one helluva street party. Thousands flock to SW Eighth Street for the annual Calle Ocho Festival, organized by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. In its 39th year, the fest shows no signs of slowing. So forget about not getting that golden ticket to Ultra Music Festival — party con tu abuelita like the good little Cuban/Dominican/Venezuelan/Argentine/Kendallite/Doralian you are. 

With ten music stages and a special performance by the King of Carnaval Miami himself — Andy Garcia — the fest promises to be better than ever. We've got your guide to everything you can expect this Sunday, March 13. (BTW, streets will also be closed Saturday for setup.)
Witness Andy Garcia Perform With His Band
This year, the King of Carnaval Miami is Andy Garcia. The actor/director/producer is a Miamian through and through. Born in Cuba and having immigrated to Miami when he was 5, Garcia attended Miami Beach Senior High School and Florida International University before becoming a movie megastar. Garcia will perform with the CineSon All Stars — a band he has led on multiple occasions. "It’s an honor for me to be chosen by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana as the King of Carnaval Miami 2016," Garcia says. "Music has inspired me throughout my career, and I am excited to come back to my roots and perform." See the man himself this Sunday at 5:30 p.m at the Kiwanis 40th Anniversary Stage on NW Twelfth Avenue.
Dance to the Beat of the Music
Along the street, eight stages will feature their own lineups organized by the presenting sponsor. The Coca-Cola Stage welcomes the best performers, including headliners Fuego, J. Quiles, and Miss Yaya. At the MegaTV Stage, Venezuelan reggaeton duo Chino y Nacho will perform. Cuban salsa band Timbalive will take over the Telemundo Stage. If you miss Timablive's performance at Calle Ocho, the Latin group will also perform as part of Miami Dade College's MDC Live Arts Friday, March 18, at the Koubek Center. 
Get Some People-Watching Done
If there's one thing that can be said about Calle Ocho, it's that it attracts plenty of interesting people. The block party has it all to satisfy your gaze, from the revelers who attend yearly to the newbie who wants to step out and celebrate some Cuban pride. People like to incorporate the flag of their madre patria into their wardrobe or simply wave it around and wear it as a cape. Don the colors of your heritage, and you'll blend right in with this crowd. 
Eat All the Food
Expect very tasty treats from every corner of Latin America — paella, arepas, pinchos, churros, carne asada — you think it, they'll sell it.
Break a Record 
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, the organization that has been putting on Calle Ocho for the past 39 years. As a form of celebrating, the Kiwanis want you to sign a birthday card. Scribble your John Hancock in the parking lot of El Dorado on SW Eighth Avenue in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most signatures on a birthday card. That's one lovable festival. 
Stay for the Parade
The fourth-annual Grand Folkloric Parade will begin at 12:30 p.m. Line up along Beacom Boulevard at the Alas USA Folkloric Stage and prepare for a procession that will make Disney jealous. "Countries from around the world will be represented with authentic music and costumes," a release states. 

Calle Ocho Festival
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 13, on SW Eighth Street between Eighth and 27th avenues. Visit carnavalmiami.com or download the app from the App Store or Google Play. 
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.