No work on President’s Day means one more day to enjoy the weekend, which is perfect because Gay8 (the eight is pronounced “oh-cho” when you’re in Little Havana) lands on Sunday, Feb. 17th this year.
Like most parties in Miami, the colorful event went from local gathering to largest Hispanic LGBTQ festival in the country in a hot second. Now, in its fourth year, festival planners are expecting for attendance to exceed the 60,000 people that came out to enjoy the art, culture and food that characterizes Gay8 and its beloved locale.
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So what’s in store? Just about everything. The party gets going at 11 a.m. on February 17th, as Calle Ocho — Eighth Street for the uninitiated — is closed to traffic for three blocks between 14th and 17th Avenues.
Highlights of the day include the main stage performances by local stars like Palo, Suenalo and Spam Allstars, live music off the main stage, DJs spinning EDM along the promenade, fashion shows, a doggie village, dance parties, the Women’s Tertulia (a series of artistic gatherings), a film showcase, food vendors, a Miami sandwich competition and, of course, lots and lots of street dancing.
From the beginning, Gay8 has also made a point of honoring the pioneering spirit of those civically minded individuals that have fought to make Miami a better place to live. The Pa’Lante Awards Ceremony will recognize four outstanding Miamians at the 4Ward Gala on Feb. 13th at the Bacardi headquarters in Coral Gables, including former congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, radio personality Maria Cristina Ruiz, George Neary from Tours R Us, and Michael Rosenberg and Rita Schwartz from the Pets’ Trust.
The festival itself is preceded by two days of activities at various sponsors’ venues where VIP events are organized. These can be as serious and thought-provoking as a Climate Literacy Training held at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens or the Human Rights Symposium held at the University of Miami.
It’s a uniquely Miami gathering that welcomes everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, age, nationality or anything else.
IF YOU GO:
What: Gay8 Festival
When: 11 a.m. Sunday
Where: Eighth Street between 14th and 17th Avenues, Little Havana