Another Birthday, Another Big Bang
On Friday, July 4, we turn 238, and we’ll have a population of about 313 million. Many of those folks will be marking the day with festivities, like Miami’s biggest Fourth of July fest in Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). The park, with those views over the bay, opens at 10:00 a.m.; the Sam Adams Beer Garden (new this year) opens at 2:00 p.m., along with the live music. At 3:00 p.m., the Family Fun Zone opens; and the fireworks start at 9:00 p.m. You can drink all you want there, but you can’t bring in cans, bottles, or coolers. Free; www.miami4thofjuly.com.
In the latest hip neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, it’s almost impossible to get into performance venues on bluegrass nights -- that music is so back. But here in Miami, we can still take our time to appreciate the mountain-inspired twangs, like at the South Florida Bluegrass Association’s Monthly Festival at Greynolds Park (17530 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach), on Sunday, July 6, from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. This year there will be extra poignancy: longtime emcee and aficionado Evan Carl passed away June 8, but his memory will live on during the fest. Free, but get there early for parking; www.southfloridabluegrass.org.
Jazzed in the City
The lovely lobby lounge of the historic downtown Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center (174 E. Flagler St.) is the perfect, intimate place to hear Miami jazz favorite Jesse Jones Jr. On Wednesday, July 9, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., the Jesse Jones Jr. Ensemble will be playing; there’s a cash bar, but the event is free; www.gusmancenter.org.
Caligula from Argentina
The name Caligula is synonymous with tyranny and debauchery, so you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect when the International Hispanic Theater Festival kicks off its 29th year with Caligula, the Musical from the Buenos Aires company Cibrian Mahler Co. (the festival is highlighting works from Argentina this year). It’s also not too surprising that a dark play combining theater and music about people struggling under the yoke of dictatorship comes from the home of the horrific Dirty War. It runs from Thursday, July 10, through Sunday, July 13, at 8:30 p.m. at the Carnival Studio at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (1300 Biscayne Blvd.). Tickets $34; www.arshtcenter.org.
Happy Take on a Grimm Tale
You know the story of Rapunzel, the young girl trapped in a tower who receives visitors -- the witch who holds her captive and the prince determined to free her -- by letting down her hair to form a ladder. It is grim in a sense, but like most fairy tales, it’s about children navigating their way in an adult world. Now the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Rapunzel is being retold in a whimsical musical adaptation, with book and lyrics from the creators of Friends. It’s playing at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center (3385 NE 188th St.) Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, at various times during the day and evening; $10; www.aventuracenter.org.
As summer heats up and bugs proliferate, evening excursions to the coast offer welcome relief, the sea breezes keeping the skeeters away and the humidity reasonable. The Saturday, July 12, Miami-Dade’s Eco-Adventure Sunset & Moonlight Kayak tour is a prime example. From 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., paddle your way through the calming and relatively cool enclaves around Key Biscayne, filled with rookeries and mangrove wildlife (but do bring bug spray and closed-toe shoes). Leaves from Crandon Park (4000 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne); tickets $40; www.miamidade.gov/ecoadventures.
Put Bikes in High Gear
Slowly but surely, Miami is making itself a bike-friendly town. Bike lanes are popping up, as are monthly riding events across the county. One of the latest entries is the Get in Gear Bike Ride, an initiative from the City of North Miami, the North Miami Parks and Recreation Department, and the North Miami Police Department. Every second Saturday at 8:30 a.m., a ten-mile ride will begin, escorted by police just so insane Miami drivers won’t get close. This month, on Saturday, July 12, the ride will depart from the MOCA museum plaza (770 NE 125th St., North Miami). Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. Kids are welcome, and helmets are mandatory for those under 16 -- those over would be wise to wear one, too; northmiamifl.gov/celebrate.
Heady Days for Mango
If it’s July, it’s time for the International Mango Festival, now in its 22nd year, at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden (10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables). This year the focus is on mangoes of Colombia (mangoes thrive in so many countries, in so many different flavors, sizes, and qualities, that every year another region can be highlighted), running from Saturday, July 12, through Sunday, July 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be talks and workshops about specific varieties and how to grow them, tastings, cooking demonstrations, and the popular Mango Brunch. Admission free for members, $25 for non-members, and discounts for those who arrive in an eco-friendly manner; www.fairchildgarden.org.
Caribbean Complexities on the Big Screen
To complement the Caribbean-themed exhibits at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (1103 Biscayne Blvd.), every Thursday throughout July the museum will showcase films as part of At the Crossroads: Critical Film and Video from the Caribbean. This is a fascinating series, with two films being screened each evening, one short, one full-length. For instance, the two films screening July 17, beginning at 7:00 p.m., are Stories from Surinam, about East Indian laborers on Dutch plantations, and BIM, a story of a young Indian boy in pre-independence Trinidad and Tobago, and the islands’ racial complexities. Perfect complements to Miami as well; www.pamm.org.
A Water-Filled Theatrical Extravaganza
Huge inflatables and 3-D screens are now de rigueur for theatrical extravaganzas, like the latest one coming to the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts’s Ziff Ballet House (1300 Biscayne Blvd.), H2OMBRE, beginning Thursday, July 17, and running through the end of August. Adding to the action onstage will be aerial acrobatics, electronic music, and 6000 gallons of water that will leave the audience literally soaked. Quite a show. Most performances begin at 7:30; $50; but there are some later and earlier performances, so check for schedules: www.arshtcenter.org.
Compiled by BT arts editor Anne Tschida. Please send information and images to