How-to Guide for Conquering Miami Art Week

Art Basel Miami Beach, or ABMB as it is commonly known, is the most important art fair in the United States. Over 250 galleries from 31 countries are   exhibiting over 4,000 artists at the convention center in Miami Beach. The Miami Art Week, which is comprised of the 13th edition of ABMB, about twenty satellite fairs, and museum and gallery openings, other events related to art, design, and luxury goods, is taking place this year from December 1st through December 7th. The fairs and events are positioned between Miami’s Wynwood Art District, Downtown Miami and Miami Beach. About 75,000 visitors will descend upon Miami this year.

Interior of Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo from Miami Art Zine.

Interior of Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo from Miami Art Zine.

This all sounds pretty overwhelming, isn’t it? In fact, it is. There are countless resources available to you to help you navigate fair locations, hours, admission prices, and VIP info. The most comprehensive one can be found here. To navigate all the external events and parties, PaperMag releases an annual guide that I read before heading to Miami. There is so much to cover that this year they’ve released their guide in five parts.

Wynwood Graffiti Art, Miami

Wynwood Graffiti Art, Miami

I’ve been participating in the entirety of Miami Art Week for the past three years, and I’ve become a pro of sorts in how to navigate the frenzy that descends on sunny Miami during the beginning of December. I can’t claim that Miami Art Week is going to be less overwhelming after reading this post. But, for those of you planning to see for yourself what Miami Art Week is all about, or you’re a seasoned veteran like myself, here is a guide tips and tricks for navigating the city, art fairs, outside events, and for making the most out of your Miami experience!

1. I understand that not everyone has the luxury of taking a whole week off, but if you can, attend for the entire week to give yourself enough time to hit the beach and the fairs. Just going for the weekend is usually not enough.

2. Try to go to the fairs during the week, as close to when each of them opens as you can. For example, Scope Art Fair opens on Wednesday, so try to attend on Wednesday or Thursday to avoid the large crowds that attend over the weekend.

3. You will not see everything. There are so many events going on that you’ll kill yourself trying to stop by every single one. You’ll have to prioritize. For those you of who, like me, often suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), create a schedule of events you absolutely must go to, that way you’ll know in advance what you don’t want to miss.

4. To piggyback on number 3, also be flexible. You never know whom you’ll meet and what party or event you end up going to. That’s the fun part! Don’t be tied down to your schedule too much.

5. The weather in Miami is usually quite lovely, with high 70s and sunshine every day. But do bring a light jacket and a sweater just in case, and especially for inside the fairs. If you’re like me and you get cold in air-conditioned spaces, a sweater than can fit inside your purse when you’re not wearing it is a must.

6. A Miami wardrobe is not the same as a New York or east coast wardrobe. You’ll stand out as a typical New Yorker in all black. Bring out your whites and bright colors, and wear them with confidence! I know it’s December, but trust me, in Miami there are no real seasons, nor is there the “no white after labor day” rule. Also know this is not a family friendly Americana cruise – be ready to dress to impress every day, wherever you are: on the beach, visiting a fair during the daytime, and at night. The best outfits are the ones that can pass for you to wear all day and night – some days you won’t have time to go back to your hotel and change, you’ll just hop from one event to the next.

7. You will be walking and standing all day. Be sure to wear dressy, stylish, but most of all, comfortable, shoes. If you can manage a small heel or wedge, go for it. But don’t wear insane heels because you’ll be walking all day and night. As is true for clothes, be sure to wear shoes that can easily transition from daywear to semi-dressy nightwear.

8. Sometimes you’re so absorbed in the fairs and events you forget your three meals a day rule. Since you’ll be running around, and sometimes food is not easily available in the fair centers, make sure to bring snacks in your bag.

9. Bring a comfortable and spacious purse that can carry the art pamphlets and postcards you’ll collect, snacks, a sweater, some touch-up makeup, and any free goodies you receive. Or alternatively, you can wear a small and stylish purse and also carry around a canvas tote bag for your other items.

10. Make friends and be open to meeting lots of people. You’ll meet New Yorkers, but also Europeans, Latin Americans, and others from all parts of the world.

11. Pack light, but pack smart. It’ll make your life easier. The key is to be prepared to mix and match a wardrobe that is both stylish and comfortable.

12. Bring swimwear! Don’t think you’ll only be at fairs – the beach is amazing, and the water is actually quite warm for December. A morning walk on the beach will give you the energy to get through your full day of art and mingling.

Gorgeous Miami Beach

Gorgeous Miami Beach

13. Getting around: If you only plan to stay in South Beach and skip the fairs and events in Wynwood and Downtown, you’ll probably walk from one place to the next, which is completely do-able. Cabs can be really expensive, especially during Miami Art Week. If you want to have the most flexibility, rent a car, but be prepared to sit in a lot of traffic. You can also call for a Swoop ride in South Beach, which is a free ride in a pimped out golf cart. All you have to do is tip the driver.

14. Most of all, have fun! Miami Art Week is a must-see event for a reason, and when you take the time to soak it all in and enjoy it, you’ll find that all prep and planning will be well worth it.


IMG_9202I’m the Senior Editor of Women’s iLab and the Community Marketing Manager for Kite, a social reading startup. One of my labors of love is co-organizing #ArtsTech meetup, which focuses on the intersection of art and technology. One of my greatest passions is world travel: when I’m not home in New York City, you’ll find me somewhere in Europe, Asia, or Latin America. I graduated from the George Washington University with a BA in Art History. Get in touch with me on twitter @amaiou.
Read more about and from the author: Amanda’s WiLab Profile