The sun goes down. The air is humid and sultry, infused with scents like fried cornmeal, cigar smoke, and fresh Cuban coffee. Palm trees are lining the street, live Afro-Cuban music, people dancing, artists painting.
Have you left the city? No! You’ve just ended up in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood for Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays, a monthly street celebration held every third Friday of the month, from 7 to 11 pm.
With the hope of preserving the cultural hub, Viernes Culturales offer a tribute to the arts, music, and cuisine of Little Havana and its history.
Please keep in mind these details are subject to change. Due to COVID-19, social distancing and face coverings may be required. Be sure to check local health officials’ safety regulations and each establishment’s website for updated information before making final plans.
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A Warm Miami Welcome: Viernes Culturales
The neighborhood is a hub of energy and heart, but of all the days to spend in Little Havana, there’s no better time to experience the atmosphere than during Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays.
Spanning along Little Havana’s historic Calle Ocho between 13th and 17th Avenues, the stretch comes alive with local artists, delicious multi-cultural cuisine, art exhibits, salsa dancers, hand-rolled cigars and more.
From family-run food stalls to Cuban cigar shops to galleries showcasing vibrant pre-revolutionary Cuban art, walking down Calle Ocho during Viernes Culturales has quickly become one of my favorite things to do in Miami.
Viernes Culturales has something for everyone. To experience this celebration of art, food, and culture for yourself, read on for what to expect, see, do, and taste on your Viernes Culturales night.
Things to Do in Little Havana, Miami
Dr. Paul George’s Free Walking Tour
Settled primarily by the Cuban community, Little Havana is a testament to the influence of Cuban culture on the city, with reminders of this history stamped on every restaurant, bar, and gallery in the neighborhood.
For first-time visitors, Dr. Paul George’s free walking tour, offered during Viernes Culturales, is a fantastic way to get to know the history of the Little Havana neighborhood while enjoying the festivities. To follow along with the tour, meet in front of the Art Deco Tower Theater at 1508 SW 8th Street at 7 pm, right when the festival begins.
The tour lead by Miami’s premier historian, Dr. Paul George himself, will take you along Calle Ocho, the vibrant side streets, local restaurants, and galleries alike, with Dr. Paul chatting about the architecture, history and colorful stories that make Little Havana so special. There is no cost and no need to make a reservation making it one of the best free things to do in Miami.
Artisans, Art Galleries & Vendors
At the heart of Viernes Culturales are the art galleries and local craft vendors. During the events, booths fill Calle Ocho’s Domino Plaza with a variety of street vendors—from sculptors to painters to jewelry crafters—selling local arts and crafts. Hopping from one booth to the next, browsing and finding unique gifts and keepsakes are a personal favorite pastime.
Only a few steps away from the booths, the doors of galleries are propped open, welcoming a constant stream of guests to admire their bold, colorful art.
During strolls, visitors can window-shop among the neighborhood’s many galleries, getting to know Miami one artist at a time. For new visitors, I recommend stopping by Futurama, a popular, hip modern art studio with work by mostly Cuban artists. Local Tip: There is a fabulous mural outside of the gallery well worth checking out.
During the events, Cuban cigar shops and street vendors hand-roll and sell cigars before our eyes, filling the air with the unmistakable scent of a classic cigar.
Food & Drink in Miami’s Little Havana Neighborhood
Whether you’re in search of a classic Cuban sandwich, fresh seafood, or a stop at Azucar Ice Cream Company with your kids (or just you!), strolling down Calle Ocho, you’ll never run out of options for food, cocktails, or dancing.
Walking through the streets, you’ll constantly be tempted by the smell of Latin cuisine. Along the way, crowds stroll in and out of tempting restaurants and bars, drawn in by enticing sights and smells.
But to keep you dancing through the night, don’t forget to grab a coffee at one of the ventanitas — one of the many walk-up windows serving traditional Cuban coffee and pastries. But don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself during the next Viernes Culturales.
RELATED: Best Local Places to Eat in Miami
Live Music and Dancing on Calle Ocho
Speaking of dancing, we hope you aren’t too tired from your stroll down Calle Ocho. Throughout the evening, bands and musicians treat visitors to live music, kicking off a night of dancing, swaying, and strolling down the streets.
The beat of the music provides the block party atmosphere, energizing the crowd and turning the streets into a dance floor — the neighborhood pulses with contagious energy, carrying into the night.
A popular favorite, Cubaocho Museum & Performing Art Center, besides having Miami’s most extensive Cuban art collection, also offers live music performances during Viernes Culturales. Local Tip: A must-try here is the signature mojito!
A Celebration of Culture
The events support the economic and cultural growth of the neighborhood, introducing visitors to the area and giving us all a reason to keep coming back.
Whether you’re headed out on a special date or entertaining the whole family, Viernes Culturales is the perfect way to get to know Little Havana’s heritage, people, and spirit. Even if your travel dates don’t line up, Little Havana – and the unforgettable Calle Ocho – is well worth a visit.