Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival will be back with its most popular signature event, along with a drag brunch featuring actor Neil Patrick Harris and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Bianca Del Rio, organizers announced last week. 

The festival will be the first in the region to resume operations after the pandemic forced the cancellation or postponement of Pride, music, film and food festivals a year ago. Typically held in late February, SOBEWFF was postponed to May 20 – 23, 2021 and a number of public health precautions will be put in place.

Most events will be held in outdoor venues and capacities will be reduced to 50% and mask-wearing will be required when not eating or drinking. Many of the larger dining events will be broken into sessions with frequent sanitization of the venues taking place in between. Social-distancing will be enforced at all times.

The biggest change, according to protocols developed by the Florida International University Healthcare Committee on COVID-19 Health & Safety Protocols: “Expect to provide proof and/or attestation of a negative PCR COVID-19 test dated no more than 72 hours prior to the event[s] you will be attending or alternatively proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination.” Guests without documentation can expect to receive a screening and rapid test onsite. FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is the beneficiary of the festival.

Health precautions aren’t likely to deter LGBT foodies who have made the festival’s drag brunch a welcome addition to the schedule. After two years in Fort Lauderdale, the drag brunch is moving to the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach and will be held on Sunday, May 23 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Harris and his husband, actor, chef and cookbook author David Burtka, will host the party, while Del Rio and local drag legend Athena Dion will be the emcees for drag performances produced by R House. Miami chefs will prepare a variety of creative brunch bites and the $150 per person ticket also includes an open bar.

Other highlights of the schedule include the festival’s 20th-anniversary celebration hosted by Martha Stewart on Thursday, May 20; the Burger Bash hosted by Food Network chef Bobby Flay on Friday, May 21; and the Grand Tasting Village on Saturday and Sunday, May 22 – 23.

The celebrity line-up is heavy on local talent, but also includes recording artist Pharrell Williams and chefs Robert Irvine, Andrew Zimmern and Rocco DiSpirito. Giada De Laurentiis will be feted at a $600 a ticket tribute dinner on Saturday, May 22.


Tickets for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, May 20 – 23, can be bought by visiting SOBEWFF.org.