The Calle Ocho Festival or "El Festival de la Calle Ocho", is a one day "rumba"-fiesta-that culminates the Miami Carnival. This festival takes place in March each year between 27th avenue and 4th avenue, along Southwest 8th street, that is 23 blocks along "Calle Ocho" in "Little Havana" with activities for everybody.
Even thought this festival is not counted amongst the official Hispanic holidays, more than 1 million people attend this block party to participate, and to see top Hispanic artists perform at every street intersection at the designated stages.
"El Festival de la Calle Ocho", is one incredible party that in 1998 was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest conga line in the world with 119,000 people participating in it.
Music is not the only attraction going on at this Hispanic festival, the super famous block party has a kid's area with clowns, magicians, food galore, and products geared to moms and children.
Foods at "Festival de la Calle Ocho"
You can find ropa vieja con plantos (shredded skirt steak with plantains), carbrito (baby goat), other barbecued meats, arepas (which come form Colombia, Venezuela, etc.), and the delicious ceviche (seafood).
The most popular drink is Cuba Libre. To make it...use rum and coke served with a wedge of lime. You can also find fresh fruit juices at restaurants and Mojito Cubano, a drink that is made with white rum, lemon, and mint.
In 1978, Cubans invited the neighborhood to know more about Cuban culture and Calle Ocho Festival was born.
This festival happens in the heart of "Little Havana", a wonderful neighborhood where the festive air invades it all at any time of the day. In the morning you can smell the scent of coffee recently brewed and enjoy a "cafe' con leche", along with freshly bakes pastries. At lunchtime beans, rice, Cuban sandwiches, etc. are amongst the favorite and popular foods you can find.
The "Little Havana" enclave started because in the 1960's, Cuban refugees began settling around Miami's "Calle Ocho" and another major influx of Cubans occurred during the Mariel boat lift of 1980, that ended up increasing the Cuban population in and around the Miami area.
The stores along Calle Ocho sell typical Cuban and more recently South and Central American products, (especially Nicaraguan) as new immigrants make their way into the neighborhood.