KEY WEST, Florida Keys — A celebration of the culture, entertainment, food and flora of the island nation just 90 miles from Key West is to take place at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, 5210 College Road, Friday and Saturday, March 23-24.

The Cuban Cultural Expo is to include traditional domino games, an exhibit of works by Cuban and émigré artists and artisans, a film about life in Cuba and a presentation on the island’s health system and use of herbal remedies. Also featured is a compelling display of Cuban refugees’ “chugs,” or primitive makeshift vessels, alongside artifacts carried on the boats.

The event begins at 5 p.m. Friday, March 23, with light fare and a cash bar. Admission is free for botanical garden members and $10 per person for nonmembers.

The weekend’s highlight is to be Hot Havana Nights, a lavish Latin party set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the garden’s pond-side plaza. Attendees can dance to the sounds of the 10-piece band Havana Soul while enjoying light fare, a cash bar and a silent auction of Cuban artwork, jewelry and crafts.

Prior to the main party, those who purchase VIP tickets also are invited to a 5:30 p.m. catered Cuban dinner and Tropicana show in the courtyard.

VIP tickets are $85 per person for garden members and $100 for nonmembers. General admission tickets are $25 per person for garden members and $30 for nonmembers. Reservations are encouraged since the gala typically sells out.

The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is an arboretum, garden, wildlife refuge and educational center that showcases flora native to South Florida, Cuba and the Caribbean. The rich and diverse environment features tropical fruit trees, native fragrant plants and palms, tropical spices and local herbs, champion trees, butterflies and birds.

Event information and ticketing: or 305-296-1504

Key West visitor information: or 1-800-LAST-KEY



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