Hispanic Heritage Month

white rooster

One of the many colorful roosters of Little Havana

little havana restaurant

Dinner time in Little Havana

dominos

Playing dominos in Little Havana

cigar and coffee

Freshly rolled cigar and a shot of espresso

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By: Susan Lamaigueiro

Hispanic Heritage Month in Miami kicked off on September 15th, with concerts throughout the city. A must do, is a stroll down famous Calle Ocho (Southwest 8th Street) in Little Havana on a walking tour or by self-exploring, to experience Miami’s rich Cuban culture, history and heritage. You’ll enjoy watching Miami’s Cuban old-timers and some newbie Cuban exiles as they sit under the shade at Miami’s famous Maximo Gomez Park (also known as Domino Park) at Calle Ocho and 15th Avenue, playing dominoes. If you’re there long enough, you just may be invited to go a round with our hometown domino experts. Listen in as you’re treated to personal stories of how they came to the United States as exiles and have taken part in building our beautiful city.

While in Little Havana, visit the Bay of Pigs Museum and learn how the Cuban people endured and survived after the Bay of Pigs invasion. See photos, watch films and listen to narratives of the survivors themselves, as they tell their stories, describing through personal experiences what they went through the night they thought help was coming, but never did.

One of Miami’s favorite ways of spending the last Friday night of every month throughout the year is at Viernes Culturales (or Cultural Fridays), in the heart of Little Havana on Calle Ocho, between 13th and 17th Avenues. Stroll from tent to tent and store to store as you enjoy music, art exhibits, tobacco rolling, shopping, food, drinks, poetry, theater, film, and even take a neighborhood tour. Viernes Culturales was created with the intention of preserving and enhancing the rich culture of Little Havana. The first Cultural Friday was held in May, 2000 and approximately two thousand people attended. It’s been popular ever since for locals as well as visitors.

Hispanic Heritage Month even has something for business owners. Viva Miami Hispanic Business Expo helps companies promote their businesses within the Hispanic community and throughout South Florida. Sponsored by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, this Annual Expo connects Hispanics and non-Hispanics for networking, relationship building within their business communities and even for conducting a little business

If you love music and dancing, some of Latin America’s best music and culture can be enjoyed at the Rumba Crawl on Brickell, starting September 15th. This year’s Rumba Crawl has a 90’s theme! Listen and dance to merengue, salsa, bachata, and reggaeton just to name a few, a melting pot of Latin sounds that will get you doing the dance crawl from venue to venue down beautiful Brickell Avenue in Downtown Miami. Some of Brickell’s best venues hosting the Rumba Crawl include Baru, TuCandela, Taverna Opa, RedBar Brickell and Fado’s. Register for the event at Fado’s Brickell. Don’t forget to wear a pair of comfortable shoes!

Some of Miami’s shopping malls are also joining in on Hispanic Heritage Month. Mall of the Americas is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with its own Hispanic Heritage Celebration on Saturday, October 6 from 5pm – 7pm. The main stage, located in the mall’s Center Court will feature live cultural performances and music from local artists and dance companies. This family-friendly event will also have face painting, arts and crafts, dominoes, vendors and more!

Dolphin Mall will be hosting its Hispanic Heritage Celebration from now through September 30th. Every Friday and Saturday from 4 pm – 12 am, and Sundays from 4 pm – 8 pm, watch free and exciting live performances at Ramblas Plaza Stage, featuring cultural acts representing Latin America. Scheduled performers include Brazilian Explosion, Rico Band, Calle Sol, Leather & Lace, Cache, Maria Con Azucar, Eclipe Band, La Tradicion, Debbie Orta, Legends5, Clockwork, and David Fernando!

Miami International Mall is having their 14th Annual Miami International Mall Hispanic Heritage Celebration. This event takes place Saturday, September 29th through Saturday, October 6th, from 1 pm - 6 pm, with live entertainment, comedy, cultural performances, and fashion demonstrations. For $5, unlimited food and beverage tastings, including cocktails by Barcelo Rum, are available, with proceeds going to local charities and the mall’s Simon Youth Foundation. Here is the lineup:

  • Saturday, September 29th: 1 pm - 6 pm
    Afternoon of Comedy and Cultural Performances
  • Saturday, October 6th: 1 pm - 6 pm
    Afternoon of Art & Culture
  • Saturday, October 13th: 1 pm - 6 pm
    Afternoon of Fashion, Food & Beverages and Culture

Lots of fun and free to the public, the Coral Gables Hispanic Cultural Festival, sponsored by the Gables Hispanic Cultural Foundation, celebrates with local and internationally acclaimed artists, musicians, folklore performers, designers and businesses. The festival promotes their work and showcases Miami’s diverse and unique Hispanic and Latino communities and cultures from all around the world. This family-friendly event has fun for the whole family!

Plenty of booths will be showcasing art, photography, jewelry, and local businesses. Different types of food will be available to satisfy every pallet. Enjoy some empanadas and arepas, or indulge in a full meal consisting of carnitas, beans and rice with sweet platanitos, and for dessert, tres leches. Or, if you prefer, you can feel guiltless with fresh fruit, a tropical smoothie, fresh juices — or maybe just a little guilty with a Mojito! Hang out by the main stage and sway to the Latin beat of the many different performers and dancers.

The children’s area has bounce houses, face painters, games, and even fellow children performers dressed in their respective country’s native costume. Even your furry family members are welcomed, as they too, have a booth where they can recluse to with water and snacks.

Come out and enjoy a weekend full of great activities on Saturday, October 20th from 12 pm – 9 pm and Sunday, October 21st from 12 pm – 8 pm — a little past the last day of the Hispanic Heritage Month, but definitely still part of the Hispanic celebrations and festivals. The Gables Hispanic Cultural Foundation’s purpose is to enhance and promote its culture and appreciation for different Hispanic cultures, education and art from around the world in South Florida.

Lastly, but certainly not least, be sure to stop at Versailles Restaurant, not only during Hispanic Heritage Month, but any time you’re in town or in the mood for a “cafecito” and a “pastelito”. Versailles is a Cuban landmark, located in the heart of Little Havana. Locals as well as visitors from all over the world come to Versailles to have authentic Cuban food, but more so, for the rich cultural experience. Old-timer Cubans as well as the everyday crowd stand outside the open window on the side of the restaurant (the ventanita), reminiscing about their days in Cuba — fascinating cultural insight. Slowly sip on a “cortadito” as the taste of espresso coffee magically mixes with “leche evaporada”, or “leche condensada” with the perfect amount of sugar. Fortunately, a cortadito or a cafecito or a café con leche, can be ordered around the clock. It is typical to see people hanging around this common area all hours of the day and night.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated yearly from September 15th – October 15th. September 15th is meaningful because it is also the Independence Day anniversary for the Latin American countries of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. In addition, the 16th and 18th of September are the Independence Day anniversaries for Mexico and Chile.

How is Miami connected to Hispanic Heritage Month? Miami has the largest melting pot of Hispanics in the country, totally influencing its culture as its Latin juices flow throughout almost all of Miami’s intricate neighborhoods and streets. Experience the lively and vivacious cultures of more than 20 Hispanic and Latin countries from Spain, the Caribbean, Central and South America. There’s something for everyone, so bring the whole family!

Explore Miami's History and Heritage

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