Free and cheap things to do in Miami – March 13-15

Throngs of people are set to descend on Miami’s famed Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) in Little Havana for the annual, and aptly named, Calle Ocho Street Festival on Sunday. They’ll be there to load up on Latin American street food and dance to the Latin rhythms.

At John Martin’s in Coral Gables, they’re getting a jump on St. Patrick’s Day with a slew of weekend events leading up to the March 17 holiday. Soulful blues guitarists and singers bring the house down Thursday through Sunday during the Gables BluesFest at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus. Keep things artistic and urban on Saturday night during Wynwood’s second Saturday art walk where artists create live street art and street performers hold court on every corner.

With all these free events it seems impossible there could be more but admission is also free to the Perez Art Museum Miami Saturday as well as to the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, Coral Gables Museum and History Miami, with special family events at some of the museums.

Conga down Calle Ocho during annual street fest   
Years back, the Calle Ocho street festival was the site of the world’s longest conga line. This Sunday the event is back for its 38th year. Chino y Nacho are this year’s Kings of Calle Ocho and they’re joined by more than 40 musical acts on 10 stages throughout the 16 blocks (8th to 27th avenues) the festival stretches. The free event also features a kid’s area with bounce houses and games, plenty of giveaways from various sponsors and come hungry because there’s food from just about every Latin American country imaginable. It starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. http://miamionthecheap.com/calle-ocho-music-and-food-festival/    

When Irish eyes are smiling       
Yes, we’ll be halfway through March this weekend and because St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday, the celebration begins Friday at the most popular Irish pub in Coral Gables, John Martin’s on Miracle Mile. The bar is putting an Irish twist on their karaoke night Friday with music by Van Morrison, U2, Sinead O’Connor and The Cranberries from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. On Saturday Paddy Kelleghan plays live and sing-a-longs with the Irish band are a virtual certainty. And the blow-out St. Patty’s Day celebration where they close off the street is on Tuesday from 8 p.m. until midnight with a return show by the Kelleghan crew plus a bagpiper with DJ Q closing out the festivities. http://miamionthecheap.com/week-long-st-patricks-day-celebration-john-martins/ 

Take a walk on the Wynwood side
The Wynwood street art scene is getting more attention than ever so what better time to take it all in and see the explosion of this scene than at the second Saturday art walk from 7-10 p.m. What’s best about this event is watching street artists create new works on just about every corner throughout the night. And pay no mind to the hours; most galleries stay open past 10. If you get hungry, the food trucks are in the Mana Wynwood Production Village parking lot at Northwest 23rd Street and Third Avenue. The event is free and open to the public. http://miamionthecheap.com/design-district-and-wynwood-art-walks-4/      

Singin’ and playin’ with heart & soul at BluesFest   
The guitar twang and deep, soulful chords paired with lyrics about lost love and downtrodden times are the perfect recipe for any blues song. Expect plenty of that during the four-day Gables BluesFest at Fritz & Franz from Thursday through Sunday.  Among the performers will be Allen Weber’s Hot Shock Band, Joey Gilmore Blues Band (pictured above), Biscuit Miller & The Mix, JP Soars & The Red Hots, the South Florida All-Stars and plenty more. There’s no admission charge. Hours are Thursday and Friday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday the music starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. http://miamionthecheap.com/free-blues-performances-gables-bluesfest/ 

Parading the streets decked in green        
Downtown Hollywood gets overrun with St. Patrick’s Day festivities Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival on Hollywood Boulevard and Harrison Street. Kicking off at 1 p.m. the parade features musical headliners Blackthorn along with long-time South Florida radio personality Footy serving as emcee. Processing down the parade route will be marching bands, a traditional Irish bagpipe and drum corps and the New York Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. Local restaurants will have specials on traditional Irish food and green-colored drinks. Admission is free. http://fortlauderdaleonthecheap.com/st-patricks-day-parade-festival-hollywood/

To keep up with latest news on deals, discounts and free events in South Florida, sign up for the daily Miami on the Cheap newsletter or the daily Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap newsletter. For more tips on what to do this weekend, read the frequently updated Miami on the Cheap weekend roundup of free and cheap events and the Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap weekend events and deals roundup.

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