Throwing one of South Florida’s signature outdoor parties on a Saturday night feels like a no-brainer — but it is heart and soul that matter more to Jim Hammond, who pulls the strings behind Fort Lauderdale’s famed Día de los Muertos festivities. And his soul is conflicted.
The 2022 edition of Hammond’s nationally acclaimed Florida Day of the Dead, with its family-friendly parade and block party, is happening in downtown Fort Lauderdale from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday. It will include all the elements that have put the event on annual best-of lists in USA Today and the Travel Channel, Lonely Planet and Thrillist.
The anyone-can-join Day of the Dead Skeleton Processional begins moving at 5:30 p.m. at Huizenga Park, where artists will offer sugar skull face-painting for kids who get there early. The exuberant column of 20-foot puppets, mariachis, flower-tossing Frida Kahlos and masked luchadores will move along the Riverwalk to the block party outside Revolution Live in the Himmarshee District.
The festival will feature food and drink, a folklórico stage with indigenous music and dance performances, and a community-building vibe that seems useful right now.
While everything will seem the same to longtime Day of the Deadheads, this will be the first time in its 13-year history that the festivities will not take place on Nov. 2, All Souls Day, the traditional portal for families to welcome the souls of deceased relatives for a brief reunion with food, drink and celebration.
Hammond has always been a passionate caretaker of Day of the Dead tradition — but as a creative mind who honed his art as a puppet master for Broadway’s “The Lion King,” he is also a showman.
While it bucks tradition, Hammond agrees that moving his celebration to Saturday allows more people, especially families, to take part, which creates a better show.
“We had been grappling with this for a while. We know that logistically it makes things much easier for everyone involved, in particular people trying to get to our event during rush hour. That has been a consistent problem,” Hammond says. “Ultimately, [the move to Saturday] is going to make it easier for attendees to get to the event, and for the event to run smoother.”
Still, Hammond understands why some people, both on his team and out in the community, have to clear an emotional hurdle as Florida Day of the Dead becomes a Saturday event.
“I am one of those people who struggled with it. I was a kid who, when we got out of school on All Saints and All Souls Day, we went to the church graveyard and we cleaned it up every year,” says Hammond, whose father was the bookkeeper for their church. “Not to detract from the giant puppets and the processional and the revelry and the fun and the party, but that day is a sacred part of me. It’s a sacred part of my life and my journey and my family.”
With the move to Saturday, Hammond created a new tradition for Florida Day of the Dead — an All Souls Day candlelight vigil on Nov. 2 at Stache Drinking Den in downtown Fort Lauderdale, which will be a fixture of celebrations going forward. For the uninitiated, Stache is a bar, but owned by Damn Good Hospitality Group, a longtime sponsor of the event and a consistent advocate of family-oriented community gatherings.
Florida Day of the Dead typically attracts thousands of revelers, and Hammond believes that number is destined to increase, given the population growth in the area in the last couple of years.
“The millennials and Gen Zs are hungry for exactly what we’re providing. They’re looking for stuff that makes them think, stuff that’s Instagrammable and stuff that’s offbeat,” he says.
For more information, visit DayOfTheDeadFlorida.com.
Weekend movies: The 2022 edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival kicks off with a sneak-peek screening of the documentary concert movie “Duran Duran: A Hollywood High” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Savor Cinema in downtown Fort Lauderdale. An ‘80s-themed pre-party begins at 6:30 p.m. with drink specials in the lobby and courtyard bars, and food from the popular Bruno’s Food Truck (reminder that they also have the brick-and-mortar Bruno’s Eats on the other side of downtown at 603 NE 13th St.). Tickets to “Duran Duran” cost $13 for general admission and $10 for students, seniors and first responders. Attire: ‘80s. Visit FLIFF.com.
Love, South American style: My favorite Oscar-winning, Uruguayan doctor-turned-musician, Jorge Drexler, comes to the James L. Knight Center in Miami at 8 p.m. Thursday to share music from his critically praised new album, “Tinta y Tiempo” (“Ink and Time”). In Billboard magazine, Judy Cantor-Navas wrote of the album: “If what the world needs now is love, Drexler delightedly delivers it … [with] an exuberant yet intimate album underpinned with acoustic percussion, Latin American musical references, a landscape dotted with electronic beats, and some funky guitars.” Tickets for Drexler’s show start at $37.99+ at Ticketmaster.com.
Snarky & Tweedy: Snarky Puppy has announced the return of GroundUP Music Festival 2023 at the Miami Beach Bandshell from Feb. 3 to 5, with a lineup of nearly two-dozen performers led by Meshell Ndegeocello, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), rising singer-songwriter Madison Cunningham, prolific session guitarist Isaiah Sharkey (John Mayer) and, of course, Snarky Puppy all three days. Advance tickets are on sale for $109+ per day, $289+ for a three-day pass. Visit GroundUPMusicFestival.com.
Fire fall: One of South Florida’s defining cultural institutions, the youthfully ambitious, twice Grammy-nominated choral ensemble Seraphic Fire opens its 20th anniversary season with “Love/War,” a program rich in dark complexities. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Miami; 8 p.m. Friday at Church of the Little Flower, Coral Gables; 7:30 p.m. Saturday at All Saints Episcopal Church, Fort Lauderdale; and 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $50. Visit SeraphicFire.org.
Date night: The Lake Worth Beach bonfire series returns for the season on Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. in front of the Casino Building and Beach Complex. As always, it’s BYO blankets, chairs, coolers and s’mores kits. Entertainment will be by the Bryce Allyn Band. Dogs are OK at the complex, but not on the beach. There is metered parking and overflow parking across the street at Old Bridge Park. The bonfires take place on the first and third Fridays of the month through February. Next up, Uproot Hootenanny on Nov. 18. Visit LakeWorthBeachFL.gov.
Friday concerts: Luke Bryan’s stop on his Raised Up Right Tour at 7 p.m. Friday at iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach is basically sold out, with resale tickets at LiveNation.com starting at $76+. … Contemporary Christian singer Lauren Daigle plays the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood at 8 p.m. Friday, with tickets to her Hard Rock Live show starting at $50+ at MyHRL.com. Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Dave Barnes opens. … Wilton Manors-based blues guitarist Albert Castiglia kicks off a string of East Coast tour dates at 9 p.m. Friday at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. Tickets start at $20+ at FunkyBiscuit.com.
Weekend laughs: Jo Koy brings his Funny Is Funny World Tour to Miami’s FTX Arena 8 p.m. Friday, with tickets starting at $42.50+ at Ticketmaster.com. (When did Jo Koy make the leap to arenas? I need to start paying attention.) … Actor-comedian and Season 8 “The Masked Singer” contestant Jon Lovitz has four shows Friday through Sunday at the Palm Beach Improv in West Palm Beach. Tickets start at $35+ at PalmBeachImprov.com. … Brad Williams (“pound for pound the funniest comedian in the country right now”) is at the Dania Improv in Dania Beach through Saturday. Tickets cost $25+ at DaniaImprov.com.
Future laughs: Tickets (starting at $50+) go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday to see insightful and irreverent comedian Iliza Shlesinger at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on March 18. Visit MyHRL.com.
Beer nuts: Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park on Friday will release cans of Last Snow, its perennially popular creamy porter laced with freshly roasted coffee and notes of coconut. Six-packs will be available for $12.99. Visit FunkyBuddhaBrewery.com. … Mathews Brewing Co. in Lake Worth Beach just tapped a batch of Dream On, made by infusing their cream ale Sweet Emotion (get it?) with fresh toasted coconut. You can only drink it in the tap room this week, not to go. Visit Facebook.com/mathewsbrewing.
Tequila sundown: The inaugural drink-food-music event called Sunset Tequila & Mezcal Festival comes to Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, with a lineup that features some of South Florida’s most tequila-friendly bands, including Spred the Dub, Artikal Sound System, The Resolvers and Xperimento. Tickets start at $25 for general admission, which will get you access to a cash bar, food vendors (Even Keel, Kapow, Ghost Kitchen Collective and Santo Dulce, among others) and the music. Take things up a notch with a tasting ticket, which includes unlimited tequila and mezcal from nearly 30 brands for $75. For more information, visit SunsetTequilaFest.com. A portion of the proceeds from the event will support Kula Cares, a Boca Raton-based nonprofit that provides essential items to under-resourced students and teachers.
New brunch: Revitalized downtown Fort Lauderdale hot spot Canyon will introduce its first brunch on Saturday. The new menu includes Corn Bread Chicken & Waffles, Churro French Toast, Short Rib Tostada and the Prickly Pear Parfait — an homage to Canyon’s famed Prickly Pear Margarita, made with prickly pear Greek yogurt topped with homemade spiced granola and seasonal fruit. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit CanyonFL.com.
A different brunch: This weekend The Hidden Garden Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale will debut its Alice In Wonderland Immersive Brunch Experience, an “adult tea party” themed to the weird and whimsical world of Lewis Carroll’s curious books. These two-hour, 21-and-older meals will have seatings at noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, when the second-floor space will be energized with music, skits, games and in-character performers. Tickets/reservations cost $50, $60 or $70, depending on menu. Visit Facebook.com/HiddenGardenLasOlas.
Good food for good: Local chefs from top spots including Louie Bossi’s, City Oyster, Elisabetta’s and Rocco’s Tacos will compete in the fourth annual Taste of Recovery fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Old School Square in downtown Delray Beach. Tickets cost $50, with proceeds going to The Crossroads Club, a nonprofit center in Delray Beach for people pursuing recovery from various forms of addiction. Along with unlimited food sampling, you’ll find live music, raffles and the chance to vote for the “Best Bite” at the event. Visit Facebook.com/tasteofrecovery.
If you know, you know: Downtown Fort Lauderdale, your life is about to get sweeter. A new location of Wynwood’s buzzed-about Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop is set to open on Saturday at 250 N. Federal Highway, across from The Dalmar hotel. Owned and operated by its head baker, charismatic former Miami firefighter Derek Kaplan, the shop’s abundant pies, cakes, cheesecakes and cookies have attracted a loyal following among customers and food critics since he opened his Wynwood location more than seven years ago. Expect this new shop, adjacent to Flagler Village, to take off quickly. Visit FiremanDereks.com.
Weekend shopping: Blue Stallion Farm is the kind of rural-minded, boho-chic lifestyle brand — soaps and scents and accessories and a cookbook — that looks quite appealing in magazines or on TV, but feels kind of alien to the suburban bustle of South Florida. Except Gany Bernal’s farm, with its ponies and pigs and chickens, is actually right here in Southwest Ranches. You can see some of Bernal’s style, and a just-published “Blue Stallion Farm Cookbook,” at her first pop-up shop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at The Hub Studios, 3069 Taft St., Hollywood. Visit BlueStallionFarm.com.
New menus: A bright and airy 6-month-old café at 4802 S. Dixie Highway, south of Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach (hence the name), The SoSo on Saturday will host the final edition of its fall Air, Land and Sea dinner series, this meal devoted to seafood. Chef Cesar Brea Jr.’s five-course meal (Caribbean Ceviche, Grilled Octopus, Lychee Granita, Seared Grouper and Key Lime “Pie”) is $89 per person (plus tax/tip). Also noteworthy this week, The SoSo debuted a new breakfast menu. Visit Instagram.com/thesosowpb.
Gamer on: The 8-Bit Big Band is a New York City-based jazz orchestra that explores the music of video games (Mario, Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris, Pokémon), with contributions from former Dillard Center for the Arts jazz ensemble trumpeter Max Boiko. The band performs an all-ages show at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Miami Beach Bandshell, with tickets starting at $41.50+. Visit MiamiBeachBandshell.com.
More games: Which reminds me of Glitch Bar, downtown Fort Lauderdale’s bustling rumpus room of craft beer, creative cocktails and a symphony of classic arcade games in the MASS District. Happy hour offers $5 drafts from 5 to 8 p.m. Visit GlitchBar.com.
The Weekender – South Florida Events
Get a roundup of the best events and things to do in South Florida so you can make it an epic weekend.
Big in Little Havana: South Florida indie-music scene veterans Humbert will perform on Saturday to celebrate their new 7-inch vinyl cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” a Y&T Records release pegged to the Black Friday edition of Record Store Day on Nov. 25. The free night of music will be at Bar Nancy in Miami (possibly Little Havana’s only bar with a colonial-era nautical theme), with openers Stillblue going on at 9:30 p.m. Visit Humbert.net.
Metallica remembers: To the surprise of no one, Metallica’s performance at Hard Rock Live on Sunday is the toughest ticket in town, with upper-deck resale seats starting at around $300 at Ticketmaster.com. The concert is a tribute show in honor of Jonny and Marsha Zazula, founders of Megaforce Records, who helped create the American metal scene that gave rise to Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, Ministry, Raven and other bands. Raven will open Sunday’s show. Jonny Zazula died from a neurological illness in February at his home in Clermont, outside of Orlando, less than a year after Marsha died from cancer. A portion of the proceeds from the Hard Rock Live concert will be donated in their names to MusiCares, the safety-net program for musicians and industry professionals. Metallica’s nonprofit All Within My Hands will support Feeding South Florida with a donation. Visit MyHRL.com.
Lit major: Light Up Lauderdale, the 10-week celebration of holiday lights along the New River, kicks off with Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale’s popular Get Lit party at Esplanade Park on Thursday, Nov. 10. The event runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and includes holiday musical performances, kids activities, a visit by Santa, food and drink, and the flipping of the switch on the light display. For information on Light Up Lauderdale and other holiday-lighting events around the city, visit Parks.FortLauderdale.gov/special-events.
Christmas trees: The transfixing holiday tradition NightGarden returns to Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden on Nov. 11, turning the 23-acre gardens into a magical fairyland of lights, projections, holograms and motion-sensing features. Tickets are on sale now for $35, $30 for ages 10 and younger. NightGarden is up through Jan. 8. Visit FairchildGarden.org.
Taylor made: With Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour being buzzed about this week (no South Florida date yet, but it’s just a matter of time), The Taylor Party at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, is perfectly timed. General admission tickets to the all-ages dance party (soundtrack by you know who) cost $23+. Visit JoinTheRevolution.net.
Smorgasburg adding Sunday: Wynwood’s Saturday-afternoon food bazaar Smorgasburg Miami will become a permanent two-day event with its long-awaited expansion into Sunday on Nov. 13. The day will include a one-day-only chance to sample signature items from some special guests: Key Biscayne’s Flour & Weirdoughs bakery, Viet-Latin trendsetters Phuc Yea and Little Haiti’s Michelin Star restaurant Boia De, which will bring its famed La Pollita fried chicken sandwich out of retirement for the event. The Smorg is open from noon to 7 p.m. each weekend. Visit SmorgasburgMiami.com.