By D. Channing Muller Posted March 29, 2010, 9:50 AM EDT
1. FedEx Orange Bowl
More than 73,000 fans flock to Miami each January to watch this college football game at Sun Life Stadium. The Orange Bowl Festival includes the Budweiser Tailgate Party, the AvMed Coaches Luncheon, and the Fan Fest in Bicentennial Park. It attracted roughly 150,000 fans, about 20,000 more than in 2009.
2. Miami Beach Polo World Cup
The fifth staging of this tournament returned to the sands behind the Setai from April 30 to May 3, attracting nearly 2,200 people during its four-day run. Event creator and producer Bruce Orosz, president of ACT Productions, added a one-day women’s tournament and increased sponsorships by 20 percent over 2008. The 2010 matches are scheduled for April 22 to 25.
3. U.S. Open Polo Championships
The International Polo Club Palm Beach has been home to this four-week international polo tournament each April since 2004. The club’s nine fields host 15 matches, which attract nearly 40,000 spectators. This year’s tournament takes place March 28 to April 18.
4. Ford Championship Weekend
Each November, Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts the conclusion of Nascar’s Craftsman Truck, Busch, and Nextel Cup series. The track sold out with more than 75,000 attendees in 2009. The three-day event includes concerts, driver meet-and-greets, and a parade of Nascar vehicles through Miami. This year’s races will be November 19 to 21.
5. Sony Ericsson Open
Last year marked the 25th anniversary for this top-tier tennis event, which was voted the Association of Tennis Professionals Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year for the ninth time. The 12 days of matches from March 25 to April 5 attracted more than 290,000 people and drew attention with a stunt on Ocean Drive. The open will return to Key Biscayne from March 22 to April 4.
6. World Golf Championships-CA Championship
This three-day tournament at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa is one of three World Golf Championship-sanctioned events and is organized by the International Federation of P.G.A. Tours. The 2009 event—won by Phil Mickelson—attracted 110,000 spectators. The tournament returned to Doral from March 8 to 14.
7. ING Miami Marathon
Every January, ING sponsors the marathon and half marathon through downtown and Miami Beach. More than 18,000 people participated in the January 31 races.
8. Columbus Day Regatta
Each October, nearly 1,000 boaters and sailors participate in this three-day water-sports event on Biscayne Bay. The Columbus Day weekend festivities combine music, boat parties, and sunbathing on the water near Elliott Key to attract hundreds of boats and thousands of people.
9. Miami Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
The sixth installment of this dragon boat race expanded to two days in April 2009. The event, which attracted nearly 25,000 spectators to Miami Marine Stadium saw 27 teams of 20 compete in signature 40-foot boats. The dates for this year’s races were not set at press time.
10. Sailfish Cup Tournament
This competition serves as the kickoff for sailfish season in South Florida. The 2009 event welcomed 42 boats and awarded a purse of $400,000 for the top seven catches. This year’s tournament will take place November 15 to 18.
11. Dig the Beach Volleyball National Championships
Coordinated by Executive Sports, this two-day tournament, held each September on Miami Beach, is the culmination of nine qualifiers in six Florida cities. The series saw a decrease in women’s teams from 25 in 2008 to 16 in 2009, but an increase in men’s participation from 32 teams in 2008 to 45 last year. The 2010 championships are scheduled for September 11 and 12.
12. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Turkey Trot
On Thanksgiving Day, runners, walkers, and wheelchair racers take part in these 5K and 10K races in Tropical Park. Organized by Run Miami, the event attracted 3,650 participants in 2009, about 250 more than previous years.