Art Basel Miami is not your average art festival, it is a cultural movement. The city is transformed into a variety of cultural events and festivities, that has put Miami on the map for the international art world. Since 2002, people have flocked to Miami Beach for Art Basel Miami Beach.

Art Basel Miami is more than the $120,000 banana taped to the wall. However, that is how Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 may always be remembered.

What is Art Basel Miami?

Art Basel Miami Beach gallery.Photo 'Courtesy Art Basel'.
Photo ‘Courtesy Art Basel’.

Art Basel Miami is North America’s largest contemporary art fair. Last year there was over 270 galleries from 35 countries showcasing works from over 4,000 artists. Over 5 days, the show drew in 81,000 visitors including art collectors, directors, curators, patrons of the art, and celebrities from across the globe (and me)!

Over the years, the festival has made Miami a thriving year-round destination for art lovers. With amazing year-round art museums, such as the free Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in the Design District, or Pérez Art Museum Miami. It even redefined Wynwood a neighborhood where former warehouses have become galleries and walls have been transformed to have some of the best street art in the world.

When is Art Basel Miami?

The festival this year will take place from December 1, 2020- December 6, 2020. There are invite only events, but also loads of free events that you can attend with a simple RSVP on Eventbrite.

Opening Hours for Art Basel Miami Beach (at the Convention Center)

  • Meridians Opening (by invitation only)
    Tuesday, December 1, 2020, 4pm to 7pm
  • Private Day (by invitation only)
    Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 11am to 8pm
  • Vernissage (by invitation only)
    Thursday, December 3, 2020, 11am to 3pm
  • Public Days
    Thursday, December 3, 2020, 3pm to 7pm
    Friday, December 4, 2020, 12 noon to 7pm
    Saturday, December 5, 2020, 12 noon to 7pm
    Sunday, December 6, 2020, 12 noon to 5pm

Where is Art Basel Miami held?

Miami Beach Convention Center during Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo 'Courtesy Art Basel'.
Photo ‘Courtesy Art Basel’.

While Art Basel is a ticketed event, there are many events that go beyond Art Basel Miami Beach. The main event is held at Miami Beach Convention Center, but there are many ways for the public and visitors to enjoy the festivities during Art Basel week in Miami.

The Unofficial Guide to Art Basel

While there is the main event going on at the Miami Convention Center, there are plenty of even sweeter parties, art galleries, and events happening throughout the city. Here are a few not to miss galleries.

  • SCOPE 20/20 – (December 1-6, 2020) SCOPE Art Show travels with Art Basel from the original in Basel, Switzerland, to New York, and finally in Miami. Renowned for showcasing the best of upcoming trends in contemporary art, SCOPE has received the critical claim with sales well over one billion dollars and 1.2 million visitors.
  • Design Miami- (December 2 – 6, 2020) Occurring alongside of Art Basel Miami, and Art Basel in Switzerland every year. Design Miami  is a global forum for design. A marketplace of twentieth and twenty-first century furniture, lighting and objets d’art. This is basically any interior designers slice of heaven.  
  • Spectrum Miami- (December 2nd-6th) Spectrum  is located in my favorite part of Miami, Wynwood! Mana Wynwood hosts Spectrum, celebrating its’ 10th year anniversary in 2020. I love this one because it melds art demonstrations with music and entertainment. With Meet the Artist Sessions, music, and the most artsy of all locations, you are sure to have a good time.
  • Context Art Miami– (December 1-6, 2020) Located in Downtown Miami on Biscayne Bay, CONTEXT has been a fixture in the Miami Art Basel scene since 2012.  They focus on emerging and mid-career artists, and provide the public with 95 vetted galleries highlighting their finest, solo artists, and other curated projects. To bring the best experience for art dealers and their artists to be promoted internationally.
Sarah Fay at the Faena Miami during Faena Festival- Art Basel Miami Beach 2019
Faena Lobby

How to find the best Art Basel Miami Events and Parties?

Miami can feel like you are living in a movie. During Art Basel Miami, everything comes alive, from nightclubs hosting the hottest DJs and artists, to pop up shops with DJ sets you never know what to expect. Even some free events I just walked into, turned into an experience like none other. From going to an unassuming pop up Museum of Plastic you could run into Diplo, or going to a usual food market restaurant like 1-800 Lucky you could run into a surprise DJ set by Major Lazer. Around every corner there was art, music, and the unexpected.

Somehow, I even ended up VIP at E11ven at G-Eazy’s table, and saw him perform that night. One night I was right by the DJ booth while Major Lazer was killing their DJ set. And one night I went to LIV and was standing right behind Lil Wayne. Miami pulled out all the stops this Art Basel and 2020 won’t be any different.

Lil Wayne at LIV

How do you choose with so many Art Basel events?

With so many events happening on across Miami it can be hard to pick and choose. You may even feel overwhelmed, but I don’t think there is any wrong choice when choosing to go to a pop-up shop where Cedric Gervais is performing a set, or heading to a pool party at SLS Hyde Beach. My best advice go with the flow, say yes, and have fun and relax!

FAENA Festival

I have been to Miami countless times, but I don’t know why Faena Festival was my first time walking into the place. This is the 2nd year of Faena Festival and this 2019’s theme “The Last Supper” brought everyone together around a round table on the beach. The intersection of art, food, ritual, and spirituality made this an all-encompassing experience.

Two of the centerpieces of the Faena that drew in crowds: Chinese artist Zhang Huan presented Miami Buddha, which featured two statues sitting face to face on the beach and Myrlande Constant’s Hatian Vodou flags with her largest to date.  

With yoga on the beach, a nightly floating cinema, and a great nightlife this was definitely one of the spots to see and be seen. I definitely saw some of the most unique outfits here.

Art Week at Basement

One of my favorite hotels and nightlife spots are located a The Edition in Miami Beach. The décor is chic, the nightlife is always a good time, and the entertainment is top-notch. Basement the nightclub in Miami with an ice-skating rink, bowling alley, and a dance floor will never leave you bored. 2019 brought in DJs, such as Bedoin, Idris Elba, and Diplo.

Dubfire presents CODE- 1-800 Lucky

1-800 Lucky was a laidback and really fun spot during Art Basel. Last Art Basel the hosted Dubfire’s CODE, and closed out Art Basel with Rum and Base hosted by Walshy Fire who brought the entire crew of Major Lazer to do a set in the expansive garden patio area. I even saw Sean Paul in the VIP area and had major flashbacks to high school.

Basel House

Basel House 30,000 square feet of fun, large scale murals, and local pop up shops. Here you can check out the BMX vert team, break-dancers, live graffiti artists, and more. With music and plenty of food and drink to keep you fueled it was definitely a spot to keep all your senses occupied.

Wynwood Walls

While the Wynwood Walls in the artsy district of Wynwood are year-round, Art Basel is when the best street artists from around the world to come to Wynwood and leave their mark. Here you can see artists bring to life huge murals. Also, check out the newest murals to the Wynwood Walls yard where a few galleries are located.

LEVI’S Haus

The perfect intersection of art and fashion. Levi’s Haus where designers held workshops, guests could design their own jeans, and chill out to music while shopping.

Levi's Haus pop up store and event space, where Levi's hosted parties in Wynwood during Art Basel Miami Beach.
Levi’s Haus Pop Up in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

The Cloud at Art Basel Miami  

Straight from Black Rock City (Burning Man), The Cloud came to Art Basel 2019, creating an immersive experience of sound and light installation. The surrounding space was full of pop up shops, food trucks, and two other stages with DJs. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences and was the perfect was to begin my Art Basel week.

Eventbrite

Want to know more about what is going on during Art Basel Miami? Then check out Eventbrite, because there were so many events you could get in for free if you RSVP’d. Also, I learned about some cool events and galleries from the site. From Pop ups hosted by the Museum of Plastic promoting no single use plastic at Art Basel, to a BBQ with the ACLU at The Standard Spa. Not only is Art Basel and art festival, but it brings people together around varying issues affecting the art community and world.

Sarah Fay holding her reusable water jug at the Museum of Plastic Pop up at The Edition in Miami Beach. Art Basel Miami Beach Pop Up Event.
Here I am promoting no single use plastic!

Where to stay during Art Basel on a budget?

The Freehand MiamiDon’t stay here if you want sleep during Art Basel, but I recommend staying here if you want to meet people, go out, and they also throw sick parties. If you want to have a good time and not have to worry about leaving your hostel/hotel for a party, this is the place. They host parties with DJs and pool parties.

Generator Hostel Miami Beach This is the newest hostel in Miami and they offer not only dormitory style rooms, but also privates for an affordable rate. Also, it is pretty glitzy and they have a beautiful pool to hang out during the day. With two restaurants on site, movie nights, and amazing common areas this is definitely a more relaxing place to stay if you actually want some rest.

Generator Miami hostel pool and cabana area with people hanging out. Where to stay in Miami Beach.
Generator Hostel Pool

Both of these options are close to the pool, the parties, Art Basel events and the beautiful Miami Beach (one of the best beaches in Florida). There is no going wrong here. There are so many amazing places to stay in South Beach, Miami Beach, and Downtown Miami, but be prepared to spend upwards of $1000 USD per night at some hotels. I know my favorite spot The Edition was charging $!000 usd plus per night.

Questions about Art Basel Miami, or just Miami in general? Drop them in the comments below. I will be sure to answer you!

Art Basel Miami Beach is the best and largest international contemporary art festival in North America. Not only do people come for the art, but they come for the Art Basel Fashion and Parties. Here is the Unofficial Guide to Art Basel Miami on www.travelsofsarahfay.com
Art Basel Miami Beach is the best and largest international contemporary art festival in North America. Not only do people come for the art, but they come for the Art Basel Fashion and Parties. Here is the Unofficial Guide to Art Basel Miami on www.travelsofsarahfay.com