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It’s opening weekend at Flagler Village restaurant Holly Blue and The Angeles, a companion dance club next door. You may not think this means much in downtown Fort Lauderdale, but it does.
The restaurant (beautiful inside and out) is not being run by a reality-TV chef from Austin or Los Angeles, but by Chef Giovanni Rocchio, who retired in 2019 while his four-star work at Valentino’s Cucina Italiana was at the peak of its popularity. You may have assumed you’d never taste his food again. Thanks to Holly Blue, Chef Giovanni is cooking again.
The Angeles (state of the art, with stained glass restored) isn’t the vision of some sanctimonious club guy from South Beach or the Lower East Side, but from Fort Lauderdale residents David and Vanessa Cardaci, whose design sensibilities (thoughtful and authentic) created the welcoming vibe at Rhythm & Vine, the Wilder and Roxanne’s (historic for different reasons). This new space is the kind of sophisticated, destination dance club that doesn’t exist around here anymore (if it ever did). Thanks to The Angeles, downtown Fort Lauderdale is dancing again.
Elsewhere in South Florida, it’s a weekend of big events and the big man (Santa). Here’s a look:
Something new: The new two-day North Beach Music Festival takes its inaugural flight Friday-Saturday at Miami Beach’s North Beach Bandshell, on two stages surrounded by food and beverage vendors and art installations.
Presented by the Rhythm Foundation and GMP Live, the lineup of national and local jam-funk artists opens 3 to 11 p.m. Friday with performances by the Heavy Pets, Tand, Tauk, Electric Kif, the Motet, Karina Rykman and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The lineup on Saturday from 1:15 to 11 p.m. includes Juke, Holly Bowling, Brendan Bayliss & Jennifer Hartswick, Ghost-Note, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Marco Benevento, Aqueous, Spafford and Eric Krasno & the Assembly (the night concludes with an improv set with Spafford, Krasno, Benevento and others).
Two-day general-admission passes cost $155, with single day passes $80 on Friday, $90 on Saturday. All VIP tickets are sold out. Visit NorthBeachMusicFestival.com.
Holiday tradition: Grammy-nominated choral ensemble Seraphic Fire restores a glorious South Florida holiday tradition with performances of “A Seraphic Fire Christmas” for the first time since 2019. The eight-concert series opens 7:30 p.m. Friday at St Philip’s Episcopal Church in Coral Gables and includes several performances in Broward and Palm Beach counties: 7 p.m. Sunday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale. For information on tickets and performances, visit SeraphicFire.org.
Date night: Besides an intimate glass of wine, you know what’s sexy and romantic? Printing words on paper! (Don’t ask my wife, though.) Flagler Village creatives IS Projects host Drink & Ink Date Night at the nearby Small Wine Shop (410 N Andrews Ave.) 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, when book-binding instructor Kylie Aylies warns that you will be “learning a new technique with your partner.” There will be wine. Tickets cost $40. Visit ISProjectsFL.com.
Music, mirth, merch: The weekly Lauder Night Market returns 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday at Peter Feldman Park in Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village, offering items from local makers, live music, yoga, food vendors and nighttime picnicking. Visit Facebook.com/laudernightmarket. More shopping among local creatives can be found at the weekly Music & Makers Market at Las Olas Oceanside Park on Fort Lauderdale beach 5-10 p.m. Friday. Organized by the Flamingo Flea, the market is held in coordination with the free Friday Night Sound Waves concert series, which will feature the ELO tribute band Ticket to the Moon 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday. Visit TheLoopFLB.com.
Lake Worth Beach is fire: The free Lake Worth Beach bonfire series brings live entertainment and primo s’moresing opportunities to the sand at the Lake Worth Beach and Casino Complex 6-10 p.m. Friday (and each second and fourth Friday of the month through February). Forecast calls for temps in the mid-70s. Brrr! … At 6 p.m. Saturday, the city hosts its open-to-all Sea of Santas holiday parade, beginning at Lucerne Avenue and Federal Highway. Dress like Santa and join in. Visit LakeWorthBeachFL.gov.
Laughing grass: “Tonight Show” regular Mike Vecchione is the headliner for the final Comedy on the Green show 8 p.m. Friday at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Tickets for the outdoor comedy show start at $38 for general admission seats, $43 per person for a blanket pod for two people on the lawn, $71.75 per person for VIP pods of four in wooden Adirondack chairs up close, with order-by-phone drink service. Visit ComedyOnTheGreen.org.
Grand slam: Top poets are at the fourth annual Exit 36 Slam Poetry Festival in the Pompano Beach Cultural Center through Saturday with $5,000 on the table for the three best wordsmiths. Judges this year include Grammy-winning musician, filmmaker and TV star Malcolm-Jamal Warner (“The Cosby Show,” “The Resident”). Tickets cost $15 per day and include access to all poetry bouts and two artists’ talks. For the schedule and more information, visit PompanoBeachArts.org/exit36.
Boats gone wild: After going virtual in 2020, the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade returns at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, celebrating the 50th anniversary of holiday-decorated boating in Fort Lauderdale. For newcomers, it’s both a festive holiday spectator event and, at 12 miles long, the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party (with no apologies to Gators and Dawgs). New this year: The ticketed bleacher viewing area and associated entertainment, food and drink, has moved from Hugh Taylor Birch State Park to Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park, on the south side of the East Las Olas Boulevard bridge. For more information, visit WinterfestParade.com.
Yes, Florida, there is a SantaCon: Not that you need an excuse to dress up like Santa and have a cocktail, but the costumed bar tour known as SantaCon returns to West Palm Beach 4-9 p.m. Saturday. The gist: Everyone dressed in holiday garb (Santa, elf, Grinch, etc.) gets access to drink specials at Clematis bars on the loop. SantaCon will stop at O’Shea’s Pub (4-5 p.m.), Lost Weekend (5-6 p.m.), Roxy’s Pub (6-7 p.m.) and E.R. Bradley’s Saloon (7-9 p.m.). Visit Facebook.com/SantaConWPB.
The Weekender – South Florida Events Newsletter
Get a roundup of the best events and things to do in South Florida so you can make it an epic weekend.
Looking ahead, SantaCon comes to downtown Fort Lauderdale 7 p.m. Dec. 18, with drink specials for the costumed through the night at Township, YOLO, O Lounge, Salt 7, Royal Pig Pub and Rooftop. The event is based at Township, which also is hosting a raffle to benefit Jack & Jill Children’s Center. As you can tell from the classy spots on the tour, this is not your dad’s drunken SantaCon, so mind your eggnog. Visit Facebook.com/santaconftl.
Take the kids: Brightline’s popular, pajama-clad Polar Express train rides, a holiday re-creation of the classic children’s story, returns Saturday-Dec. 30. Unfortunately the rides are only from Brightline’s MiamiCentral Station this year (though you will find an ice rink at the station). Ticket prices range from $50 to $70, depending on date and time. Visit MiamiThePolarExpressRide.com.
Get yer jollies: The Holly Jolly Hollywood festival 2-8 p.m. Sunday is hosted by Mickey Byrne’s Irish Pub and Indie Craft Bazaar — do I need to say anything else? OK: Taking place in downtown Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard, between 19th and 20th avenues, the free, family-friendly (pets, too) celebration includes live music from Jah Steve and the Counteract Crew and Deep Fried Funk, Indie Craft Bazaar’s curated, local-maker gift fair, on-site bars and restaurants with holiday specials ($6 Irish Egg Nogs from Mickey Byrne’s) and free photos with Santa. Visit HollyJollyHollywood.com.
More shop talk: The ladies of Sunny Side Up Market celebrate its second anniversary with a holiday market in Fort Lauderdale’s MASS District noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Are we done yet? Visit SunnySideUpMarket.com.
Daft Punk by candlelight: The innovative Nu Deco Ensemble’s Friday night performance at Miami’s Arsht Center (featuring collaborations with rising opera star J’Nai Bridges and multi-instrumentalist singer-rapper Masego) is a sellout, but you can still catch Nu Deco Nucleus, a smaller configuration of the orchestra, in a candlelight tribute to the music of Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, OutKast and Bill Withers 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the North Beach Bandshell. Tickets start at $62. Visit NorthBeachBandshell.com.