Calle Ocho is Miami’s biggest street fair where over a million people converge on one day in Little Havana on of course 8th street/Calle Ocho for food, music, dancing, and pride. On Calle Ocho from about SW 11th Ave to 27th Ave are hundreds of stands and numerous stages down the whole stretch. Cultural pride is also very present with many people decked out in flag shirts or carrying flags of their homeland/heritage.
Calle Ocho is definitely an experience and one to check off the Miami bucket list. There’s a lot of excited energy all around and it’s sensory overload big time (in a good way for me at least). For me the highlight was definitely checking out all the food. It’s great opportunity to get some really good food from street vendors and sample a lot of authentic food from a lot of cultures, especially Latin cultures. I had an arepas de choclo (corn pancakes with cheese in between), which is one of my favorite foods I’ve discovered in Miami. The arepas are fluffy, but filling and with the melted cheese it’s delicious and best of all gluten-free! I also had a strawberry smoothie and a Colombian sausage, which were both good. There were numerous stands for almost every Latin culture, plus others like Jamaican. There were all kinds of meats, rice and beans, skewers, and the options went on! Prices were also really cheap for the food, which can be dangerous when you want to try so much stuff and you’re getting a good deal!
Being a street fair of over a million people of course there was music! Every block or so there was usually a stage hosted by a radio station that a lot of people stopped at to listen to the music and dance. There were also DJ stands at other points along the street and most stands had their own music playing. What I enjoyed was seeing very talented people dancing towards the front and people grouping around them, but for others it’s a great opportunity to dance along and have fun.
Obviously a million people on one street (even though it does go for blocks and blocks) means it’s pretty crowded, which is part of the experience. Certain points can get more congested, especially around the dancing areas, but it wasn’t too bad as long as you go expecting the crowd. We parked down 7th St closer to Brickell and walked the rest of the way, which worked out really well. Traffic definitely gets heavier as you get closer to where the streets are closed off. Once we had walked a good portion of 8th St, eaten a lot of food, and gotten our fill of the experience we walked back down 7th St, which is closed off and doesn’t have a lot of people. We went during the day and so did most of my friends who went separately, but I bet it would be a pretty cool thing to experience at night.
Definitely enjoyed checking this off the Miami bucket list and is a cool thing to check out, especially if you’re into dancing and music, but also if you want to see an important Miami-esque event and experience a huge street fair and get a chance to try a lot of great street food.