In the last few years, Miami has exploded into a world-class destination for the arts. There’s no better time to experience the majesty of the Magic City’s creative scene than when Art Basel Miami Beach comes to town.
The 2016 installation is slated for December 1 through 4, and it promises to be one of the finest versions to date. To help you prepare for all of the exhibits, events and elegant hotel gatherings, we’ve drawn up the complete guide to one of the biggest art to-dos in the country.
What to see
The main affair is at the Miami Beach Convention Center. More than 70,000 visitors are expected during the fair’s 15th edition, which will showcase works by more than 4,000 artists from more than 250 leading galleries around the globe. Here, you’re guaranteed to see an eclectic arrangement of paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films and digital art. At nearby Collins and SoundScape parks, you’ll find larger-scale works, film screenings and ambitious performances.
Art Basel is divided into themed sectors to help guide you. If you’re new to the fair, we suggest taking advantage of the guided tours led by knowledgeable art experts (ArtNexus is a good place to start for tour information).
If you have budding artists in tow, Art Basel has also designed quite the family friendly itinerary: check out its Art Kids program led by the Miami Children’s Museum during show hours.
Show tickets can be purchased at the respected venues, but we recommend getting them ahead of time at the Art Basel Online Shop. Single-day tickets are available, if you can’t stick around for all four days.
Art Basel has mushroomed since launching in 2002, spawning a string of satellite fairs. If you have an affinity for design and décor, catch Design Miami (November 30 to December 4), which will be located just behind the convention center. A “global forum for design,” the fair brings together the world’s leading collectors, gallerists, designers, curators and critics who are shaping the industry. Louis Vuitton will present “Objets Nomades,” a collection of furniture redefining the art of travel.
Over at the nonprofit organization NADA (December 1 to 4), the renowned art fair pushes the boundaries of the “art establishment,” showcasing the best emerging contemporary art from around the world.
Other art highlights include: Scope Miami Beach (November 29 to December 4) is located on the sands of Ocean Drive and 8th Street. You’ll see more than 75 shows featuring 125 notable international exhibitors of emerging contemporary work; at Pulse Miami Beach (December 1 to 4), catch more than 70 galleries plus its first commissioned work by digital artist Anne Spalter; Art Miami (November 29 to December 4), housed in Midtown Miami, is the longest-running contemporary art fair in the city, attracting more 82,000 collectors, curators and art enthusiasts alike; while Art Miami is committed to showcasing the most important works from the 20th and 21st centuries, its sister fairs Aqua (November 30 to December 4) and CONTEXT Art Miami (November 29 to December 4) are dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists; Pinta Miami (November 29 to December 4) features an expansive exhibit of Latin American, Portuguese and Spanish artists.
What else to do
While you’re in town, you might as well immerse yourself in the area’s many cultural institutions and galleries. The list is pretty extensive, but some great places to start are the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts, The Bass Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art and the New World Center.
With A-list artists and highbrow collectors, stars and socialites about town, Miami’s party scene lights up a little brighter for the annual art event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle with the fashionable crowd and do a bit of people-watching at some of the after-parties.
To dance all night, check out Basement at The Miami Beach Edition, where the parties are always bumping. You can expect East Miami’s Sugar, which is new to the after-hours scene in Brickell, to be swarmed by the glitterati. And, of course, the art elite will always flock to Perez Art Museum Miami for its big fête (November 29).
Where to stay
Rooms sell out quickly during Art Basel, but if you book now, you may still be able to snag something at one of the area’s luxury properties. Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Acqualina Resort & Spa is offering an Arts Week package that should please aficionados with event tickets, a welcome amenity, a spa credit and more.
Faena Hotel Miami Beach is another excellent place to base your stay. To mark the opening of Faena Forum, designed by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA, a carnival-like parade will kick off on November 27 and wind through the Faena District Miami Beach. The hotel’s Time Capsule will host an immersive virtual reality experience on November 30, and Madonna will swing by the forum to hold a benefit concert on December 2 with guest appearances by Chris Rock, Ariana Grande and Sean Penn.
Other hot oceanfront spots where the glam crowd flocks to are The Miami Beach Edition and Four-Star The Betsy – South Beach. If you’re looking for accommodations off the beach, Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Miami and Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Miami are perennial favorites. Not to be outdone, Five-Star The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort used wide brushstrokes during a recent $35 million refresh, welcoming three four-bedroom suites, a lobby lounge, a new restaurant and other gallery-worthy enhancements.