Want to feel good and have fun? Get ready for Gay8 (“Ocho”) Festival as it returns for another feel-good year of live music, tasty foods, and blissful fun under the umbrella of community building, diversity, and inclusion.
The free festival, which has become a staple in the Little Havana neighborhood, is presented by First Horizon and will take place on Sunday, February 19 (President’s Day Weekend) in the world-famous “Calle Ocho” once again growing its footprint from SW 17th Avenue to SW 12th Avenue from 11am to 11pm.
This year’s festival theme is “Abriendo Caminos” or “Clearing The Way” – intended to mean “giving access to” and “lifting up communities.” With an impressive lineup of musical acts on eight stages and more than 100,000 people expected, “Gay Ocho” promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The Kickoff Party will be on Saturday evening beginning at 8pm at Cuba Ocho, located at 1465 SW 8th Street, featuring TIMBA LIVE.
Headlining the festival on Sunday is “Nic N’Taya” at 9pm on the Bacardi Stage and “Dancing Queen: An ABBA Salute” at 4pm on the First Horizon Stage. These bands will be joined by the Leslie Cartaya Band, K-NELA, Karina Iglesias, Robbie Elias, Cachita Lopez, Son Lokos, Lena Burke, Alexander Star and The Golden People, L-YEN, Lucy Grau, and more. The “Rumba Stage” located next to Cuba Ocho will open with Zumba Classes at 1pm and feature “Las Mulatason” and “Miami Girls Tumbao” during the day. The festival features a diversity of performances on the Girl Central Stage, the Wigwood Stage, the WEPA Stage, and the Salsa Stage (Salsa Dancing).
In addition to the music, festivalgoers can also enjoy the fashion extravaganza “The Fashion Fete” produced by The House of YAS and Alternativo Art located in Domino Park. There is also a pet fashion show curated by Miami Dade Animal Services, a section where anyone can “record “your story” called “Te Cuento” in an audio booth near the 2506 Memorial, a variety of food vendors, art installations, and other interactive experiences, as well as two VIP areas open from 12pm-8pm with tickets for these experiences on sale at gay8festival.com for $150; and a historic, culinary walking tour at 11am with tickets available on the site for $35. The festival closes with an authentic street “Comparsa” (Street Dance) at 9PM – not to be missed.
“The Gay Ocho Festival is a platform for bringing people together from all over the world for one day of fun and (as our hashtag says) to “Live Your Story Here,” said Damian Pardo, founder and Chair of 4Ward Miami (the non-profit producing entity). “Our goal has always been to bring people together who may not usually share space and to provide a fun, unique and memorable experience that broadens their understanding of South Florida. We can’t wait!”
The Gay8 Festival is free to the public, and prices are set with affordability in mind. For more information, go to www.gay8festival.com.