Festa Italiana is held every year in Ybor City to help raise funds for the Italian Club (L'Unione Italiana) and celebrate Italian culture (which, according to my Nana, is the only culture worth celebrating). There's lots of different components to Festa Italiana: there's a free geneology centre in the Italian Club, a film festival, food, kid's activities, etc. This year, they had an Italian Idol contest which was capped off by a performance by Bobby Rydell. I have to say, for a man wearing a blue velvet suit in Florida weather, he was pretty damn cool.
If you're in town when its held (Spring), it's worth the admission and the food cost, and you can help out the Italian Club. Check the website for dates, times, and prices.
Normally, a trip to Ybor City would be a great overnight trip from our home base in South Florida. It has nice architecture with wrought iron balconies ala New Orleans and some historical significance as a home to refugee Cubans. If you like cigars it is rich in this regard too with many old factories that produced them back in the city's heyday. There are also lots of places for a drink or bite to eat. It has one of Florida's better brewpubs, certainly a draw for me. But this was a short stopover en route to a great adventure out west for us and hence was relegated to a short walk about soaking in just a fraction of its history with an eye on my part for the brewery's opening time!
7th and 8th aves. in ybor city is the tourist and night life center of town. 7th ave. is lined with restaurants, cigar stores, bars and night clubs. for the older crowd 7th ave. is a very nice place to visit during the day and the early evening. around 11:00PM the night clubs open and the area can get a little rowdy. ybor city is a very interesting part of tampa to visit.
cuesta-rey of the ybor city manufacturers fine quality cigars. cuesta-rey was founded in ybor city in 1893 by angel cuesta and peregrino rey. in 1959 cuesta-rey was bought by the j.c. newman company. the company produces and markets cuesta-rey and arturo fuente cigars. you can take a virtual tour of the factory on their website. cuesta-rey is one of only two cigar factories still in operation in tampa. their sign which can be seen on I-4 is a tampa landmark.
Ybor Square was built back in 1886 as a cigar factory. On the wrought-iron steps of the factory, Jose Marti would give speeches about Cuban Independence. It's kind of neat to stand where he stood. If you are walking about Ybor, stop on by!
Located in Ybor City, this is the last piece of "free Cuba" left. Actually, just the name "Parque Amigos de Marti" belongs to the Cuban government - not the land, but there is soil from each of the provences of Cuba in the Park. It's a good place to go and reflect on the state of things in the world, and if you're American, its probably as close to Cuba as you're gonna get for a while.
The park is only open Monday - Friday until 3 p.m.
This is local community-owned radio station WMNF 88.5's big concert / fundraiser. It's held every year in the Spring (rain or shine, as the tickets say) at El Circulo Cubano in Ybor City.
I am as old as Tropical Heatwave, and I've been to every single one. This year I almost didn't make it, but I squeezed in there at the last possible moment. It's a really good event - with the opprotunity to hear some maybe not-so-famous talent. My favourite Heatwave was in 2000 when I got to see Magadog and the Thrusters play. That was a good year.
Anyway, if you're in town, I'd give it a shake. It's in a nice venue, there's lots of different types of music, and your helping keep media independent.
Way before you see the festival or the parade, you will hear it. The Puerto Rican festival is loud and busy, but I like it. It's not as organised as some of the other cultural events in Ybor, but it's still a lot of fun. The best part of the festival, in my opinion, is the music. There's free concerts nearly all day long. Check their website for information.
Guavaween is a big party held in Ybor City around Halloween. Over the years, it has stretched out to include daytime activities for children and families, but the heart of Guavaween is the Stumble Parade followed by adult festivities. During the Stumble Parade, Mama Guava (the mythic queen of Ybor) leads all kinds down an enjoyable path of self-destruction. There is a lot of drinking, a lot of overt sexuality, and a lot - lot - of random shouting and whistling.
Personally, I this isn't my favourite thing about Ybor, but almost everyone visiting the city seems to enjoy it. Check the website for schedules, ticket information, etc.