The Definitive Guide For A First Timer At Art Basel Miami Beach

By Lissette Calveiro

While others across the country are indulging in chilly weather and hues of red and green, Miami is getting ready to kick off one of the most exciting times of the year: Art Basel Miami Beach. More than 70,000 visitors, 267 galleries and 32 countries flock to sunny South Florida to celebrate creativity, innovation and the contemporary art.

If this is your first time in the city for this festival of expression, it may be a little overwhelming. Our advice is to grab tickets to the main show and sprinkle in a couple of off-site shows and local events. Grab a pen and your calendar and get started by exploring our picks below.

The Main Event

Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Art Basel Miami Beach is the sister fair to the original Art Basel, founded in Basel Switzerland in 1970. In Miami Beach, it capitalizes on the unique geographic and cultural conversion of both North America and Latin America. In 2013, an Art Basel stop was added in Hong Kong as the city is known as a gateway between East and West Cultures.

This year’s Miami Beach sioree is lead by Noah Horowitz, former head of NYC’s Armory Show. The 500,000 sq. ft. exhibition space is divided into nine sectors: Galleries, Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Survey, Public, Film and Magazines. Each sector allows visitors to navigate the fair and experience the many dimensions of modern and contemporary art.

To fully grasp the experience, make a day out of Art Basel alone. The Miami Beach Convention Center is equipped with two self-serve restaurants, five cafes, and an outdoor café across the street at the Botanical Gardens. Plus, there’s flowing Champagne to help you appreciate it that much more.

Art Basel Miami Beach takes place from December 3rd through the 6th in the Miami Beach Convention Center at 1901 Convention Center Drive, and various other locations. One-day tickets cost $47; permanent tickets cost $100. Buy them here.

Satellite Shows

Some of Art Basel’s best festivals and galleries are held off-site, so it’s best to attach a few of these to your schedule. These satellite shows orbit the main event and are hosted by locals and visitors alike. Explore our favorites below.


Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

SCOPE returns to South Beach from December 2nd through the 6th with 120 exhibitors from 22 countries, plus several special sections. For a fourth year, the fair collabs with VH1 on a music series featuring up-and-coming artists. A special collaboration between Cricket Wireless and Carl Pascuzzi will feature a #SelfieVortex for those attending for the ‘gram. There’s also an invite-only party with recording artists Mack Wilds and Lil’ Dicky on Friday night at Nikki Beach, sponsored by SCOPE, VH1 and BMI.

Spectrum Miami is a contemporary art show conveniently located in the heart of Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District between Midtown and Downtown Miami. From December 2nd through the 6th, the celebration features an international slate of artists, galleries, music and entertainment. The 2015 theme explores the act of illumination and creativity emerging from the artist. Special programming includes Art Labs, Art Talks, Spotlight Artist and Launchpad Programs. Bonus: Thursday and Friday entrance is free.

PULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. on December 1st. The show features a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic, an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood Walls. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Wynwood Walls. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

On the mainland, Wynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has tons in store including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

INK Miami Art Fair celebrates their 10th anniversary and maintains their exclusive focus on printmaking and works on paper. They’re back in the Suites of Dorchester (1850 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from Wednesday, December 2nd, through Sunday. Highlights include a lithograph by Louis Lozowick called Subway Station, NYC (1936) at Susan Teller Gallery’s booth and A World in a Box (2015) by Mark Dion published by Graphicstudio/U.S.F.

Check out a full list of fairs and festivals at GMCVB.

The “etc.”

You’ve heard it hundreds of times, Art Basel Miami Beach inspires a week of art galleries, exhibitions, design shows, music, entertainment, etc. That “etc.” represents the local restaurants and venues hosting celebratory soirees focused on art and what they already do best. For a first timer, these are a great way to enjoy the week of self-expression without the pressure of walking around art galleries trying to find the Picasso.

Photo Credit: American Social

Photo Credit: American Social

American Social Brickell (690 SW 1st Court) presents “The Art (Basel) of Craft Beer” all week featuring craft beer and food specials for the brew & foodie connoisseur. The Miami River celebration kicks off on Monday with $5 AmSo Burgers and $5 Local Florida Beers. Tuesday follows with $10 Chicken BLAT Sandwiches and $4 Craft Beers on tap. Wynwood Wednesday rolls in with $5 JWB 24th Brown, LaRubia and Concrete Beach Rica. The grand finale on Thursday offers $4 local craft beers all day, ladies’ drink specials and a pop-up art installation by Ray Fernandez.

Sip & Shop in Art Basel style at Batch Gastropub (30 SW 12th Street) on December 2nd from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The night of drinking and shopping features Instagram boutique brands including Lovestrung, M & CO and Luna Miami. The Glam Station, courtesy of 212 Beauty, lets ladies enjoy mini-manicures, make-up touch ups and a braid bar. If you want to add a little bit of art to your own body, The Henna Touch will share their talents and provide gratis henna designs. Wine and Whiskey Specials take center stage all night, as well as $5 Jim beam, $6 Jameson and $20 Bottomless Sangria and Sparking Wine. An RSVP will get you a complimentary drink so you’re ready to trek through the rest of your evening programming.

YogArt returns for their 5th anniversary for a series of 3 yoga sessions taking place at Wynwood Walls during the hustle and bustle of Art Basel weekend. Presented by Cavicchioli and sponsored by The Sacred Space Miami and jugofresh, the sessions take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each session is an hour long, followed by healthy bites and sips. Led by Dawn B. Feinberg, the Friday evening and weekend morning classes will have live music by DJ Drez, The Mayapuris, and Marti Nikko. It’s the perfect way to experience Wynwood Walls’ newest installation, Walls of Change, which adds 14 new murals created by globally acclaimed street artists. Tickets for YogArt Basel at the Wynwood Walls are $35 per session and are available online in advance, as well as on-site the day of the event. Mats will be provided but are limited. A portion of the proceeds generated from YogArt ticket sales go to support local Design District Miami-Dade Magnet High School, DASH.

The stylish Viceroy Miami (485 Brickell Avenue) hotel invites Basel-goers to its signature restaurant, 15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar, for a special brunch showcasing masterpieces by Duaív, an accomplished painter and classically trained musician whose immigration to the United States was sponsored by Yo-Yo Ma. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday of Art Basel Weekend, visitors can admire the artist’s uplifting work presented on (4) floor-to-ceiling columns in 15th & Vine, while savoring à la carte brunch favorites including blueberry-lemon pancakes, black beans ranchero, grilled flatbreads, gulf shrimp tacos and other chef specialties. Guests also can pair brunch with $15 unlimited mimosas or Bloody Mary cocktails and bask in a view of Biscayne Bay. Their swanky rooftop nightclub, FIFTY Ultra Lounge, later hosts an Art Basel after-party offering panoramic views of the Magic City and a rotating roster of internationally renowned DJs.

Absolut’s handcrafted luxury vodka, Elyx, and non-profit organization Water For People, are celebrating their five year partnership on the opening night of Art Basel at the exclusive art-deco Delano Hotel in South Beach (1685 Collins Avenue) on Thursday, December 3rd. A cadre of leaders and influencers will co-host the event featuring bites, cocktails and special performances throughout the evening. During the event, guests will have the opportunity to view a sculpture created by artist Antony Gormley, which will be sold to raise funds for Water for People. The charity event is limited to VIPs, but we’ve scored a pair of tickets exclusive to Rise News readers. Open to public, Elyx’s new pop-up water truck and copper pineapple boutique will conclude its three city tour in Miami’s Collins Avenue during Art Basel.

A pink snail looks across Biscayne Bay for Art Basel in 2010. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A pink snail looks across Biscayne Bay for Art Basel in 2010. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

For more pop-up parties and local events, read a guide by Racked Miami.

To help alleviate the likely traffic jams from Miami to Miami Beach, the two cities have joined forces to provide alternative travel options including a free Shuttle Service, new trolley routes, a water taxi and special Uber Yacht service. Verify prices and routes at

A stroll through South Beach, Midtown and Downtown through the week is enough to show that Art Basel Miami Beach brings the world of art, music, food, culture and innovation together for an unparalleled experience of surprise and delight. Let us know where you will go in the comments below.

Cover Photo Credit: Philipp Meier/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What Do You Think?


About the Author
Lissette is a Miami native, working in the heart of Downtown as a publicist and freelance writer. She has also served as a bilingual spokesperson with more than a dozen national and regional press appearances to-date on stations including Telemundo, ABC and FOX. Lissette earned a B.A. in Public Relations and Leadership Studies from Florida State University.
Scroll to top