Romanza Festivale showcases St. Augustine’s vibrant arts and culture scene for 10 days every spring. This year daily events from Friday, May 3 to Sunday, May 12 include over 75 concerts, theater productions, dance performances, visual arts exhibits, cultural and heritage activities, plus culinary events. Romanza is teeming with real experiences in the real world…stimulation, not escape. This extraordinary festival, presented by our community, offers indigenous street-level culture – active, participatory recreation. St. Augustine is always bustling with live music, a teeming blend of cafes, small galleries, historic sites, museums, shops and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between performers and spectators.
When asked about the background of the St. Augustine Romanza Festivale of Music and the Arts, its Chair Kathleen Vande Berg stated, “Not only is heritage paramount in our ‘Ancient City’, but arts and culture have thrived since its founding when Don Pedro Menendez brought Spanish court musicians with him to settle the new colony in 1565.”
It’s not surprising that an arts and culture community formed here long ago and continues strongly. Creative people are drawn to areas that provide inspiration, and St. Augustine, the Nation’s Oldest City, offers centuries of cultural history, rich historic architecture, narrow European streets, natural scenic beauty, and a steady influx of tourists.
In 1885, as he first step in the development of the entire Atlantic coast of Florida, Henry Flagler built his Ponce de Leon Hotel here. He made sure that the finest the musicians were the central figures in hotel entertainment. The hotel itself was, and remains, a masterpiece of architecture and art, including Louis Comfort Tiffany’s original stained-glass windows and the 8 figures in the Grand Parlor of the “Ladies of Shakespeare.”
“This Festivale, now in its 8th year, spotlights our local arts community, filling the ten days with events starring our own talented citizens as well as featuring programs from those outside our city,” Vande Berg continued.
Getting downtown to enjoy your favorite selections should be easy, because events are spread out in mostly smaller to medium-size venues like the churches, and at many different times.
Many events are returning – like the Gamble Rogers Music Festival, the Chamber Music Series, the Young Performers, the Tale Tellers, the Organ Crawl, a concert in the Gazebo by Mama Blue and Dance Kaleidoscope featuring over 170 regional dancers on stage. Other events include First Coast Opera’s “The Trial of B.B. Wolf,” an original show for children and adults, Lincolnville Live! featuring music in the Commons, A Classic Theatre in a new production, the Gainesville Brass, Duo B starring Hirono and Philip Borter and concerts by the North Florida Women’s Chorale and the St. Augustine Concert Band, Orchestra, and Community Chorus.
New headliners include concert pianist and Chopin expert Juana Zayas – free on the opening Friday evening at 7pm at the Cathedral Basilica in downtown St. Augustine. And next on that opening weekend Saturday, an all-day Latin-American Music Festival on Francis Field called “Unidos en la Música” (United in Music). Many events are free, including 3 visual arts shows.
Explore some of the highlights:
- Opening Concert: Friday, May 3 features Havana-born Pianist Juana Zayas in Concert at the Cathedral Basilica from 7–9pm. (FREE)
- Gamble Rogers Music Festival: These events May 3-5 will feature the live music of over 50 bands on three different stages. Enjoy local musicians, regional acts, and national music groups, plus new Folk School workshops in the Colonial Quarter.
- Art on Aviles: Saturday, May 4 you’ll find this Aviles Street Art Fair right outside the bed and breakfast’s courtyard. The Art Fair from 4–8 pm will feature plein air artists, local artisans, and music, plus the street’s galleries and restaurants. The Integral Latin Jazz Band will perform from 6–8pm. (FREE)
- Latin-American Music Festival: “Unidos en la Música (United in Music) “Saturday May 4 features this all-day festival at Francis Field. In addition to headliners there will be Latin Dance Workshops, cultural exhibits, a mural competition, and a Latin American Marketplace featuring merchandise, food, and beverages.
- Cinco de Mayo Concert: Sunday, May 5 celebrate Cinco de Mayo at nearby Plaza de la Constitucion with Latin bands Caribeño Tropical and Mariachi Garibaldi from 7–9pm. Bring a chair, and get ready to dance to Caribeño Tropical’s varied Latin repertoire and Mariachi Garibaldi’s authentic street style Mariachi music. (FREE)
- Romanza Chamber Music Series: This series of noontime concerts will feature seven performances at the Ancient City Baptist Church. Performers will range from Verandah Jazz, Piano Four Hands with vocalists, and The Island Duo to Dulcinea: Early Music Consort with Robert Burns, First Coast Opera, First Coast Harp Ensemble, and the North Florida Women’s Chorale.
- Romanza Dance Kaleidoscope V: Celebrate St. Augustine’s breadth of dance arts Wednesday, May 8. Eighteen local dance groups from the Aerial Athletes and the Ancient City Sirens to Three Hearts Dance and World Ballroom Dance will perform.
- Juana Zayas, Concert Pianist
- “Unidos en la Música” Latin American Music Festival
- Gamble Rogers Acoustic-Folk Music Festival
- Cinco de Mayo Concert
- Dance Kaleidoscope
- Chamber Music Series
- Mama Blue
- Young Performers Recitals
- Organ Crawl at Memorial Church
- St. Augustine Orchestra Spring Concert
- St. Augustine Chorus “Carmina Burana”
- Duo-B: Hirono Borter and Philip Borter in Concert at Memorial Church
- The Magical Music of the 1960’s and 1970’s at Temple Bet Yam
- Music at Grace presents The Gainesville Brass Quintet
- Come to the Cabaret! Janet Rothstein Sings and Zal the Magician Amazes!
- The St. Augustine Concert Band
Lincolnville Live! All events on the Commons
- DRUMBEAT Concert
- Outta Sight Band in Concert
- St. Augustine Concert Band Ensembles
- Dance Kaleidoscope
- Latin dance workshops at “Unidos en la Música”
- Golden Flames Dance Troupe (at Lincolnville Live)
- First Coast Opera presents “The Trial of B.B. Wolf”
- A Classic Theatre presents “Motherhood Out Loud”
- The Three Tellers present “St. Augustine’s Visitors and Victims”
- First Friday Art Walk – Gallery Association of St. Augustine
- Where Art Meets History St. Augustine Art Association
- Crisp-Ellert Art Museum: Flagler Seniors’ Art Show
- Geek Out Art Show – Vol. 3
- Romantic Wine Tasting at the Gifted Cork
- St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation’s Spanish Colonial Pig Roast
- H.A.W.K.E. presents the 25th Annual “Dine on the Wild Side”
- “The San Agustín” the 450th Legacy Vessel
- Captain Mayhem in the Pirate Magic Show
The Romanza Festivale website has detailed information about all the different events, performers, partners, and an online program book. It includes calendars organized by category and by date. Romanza Festivale draws fans from near and far, so don’t wait to go online or give them a call to reserve your stay in May.
Romanza is a nonprofit community organization which promotes and produces cultural events that showcase St. Augustine’s vibrant living culture, that enhance the quality of life for residents, and that create a positive lasting impression of America’s Most Romantic City for visitors. Romanza Festivale is produced by Romanza-St. Augustine and funded in part by St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural, Florida Council on Arts and Culture, also by Visit Florida, Winter Properties, Robert Silverman and EMMA Concert Association.
For complete schedule listings and more details about the Romanza Festivale, visit www.RomanzaFestivale.com. Written by Albert Syeles.