One of the world art calendar's biggest dates is the arrival of Art Basel in Miami. But don't worry if you miss it - this Florida city is a draw for art aficionados at any time

The art crowd at Art Basel Miami Beach

The art crowd at Art Basel Miami Beach

Beautiful beaches and Art Deco architecture aside, Miami (the Magic City, as it is nicknamed) has become a bonafide, year-round destination for art enthusiasts and collectors. Thousands of visitors flock here annually, but nothing attracts a more international crowd than Art Basel Miami Beach, which takes over the city from 1 to 4 December 2016.

Cardboard sculpture by Laurence Vallières shown at Scope

Cardboard sculpture by Laurence Vallières shown at Scope

Many make a beeline from the airport to the Miami Beach Convention Center, where works from more than 250 of the world’s leading modern and contemporary galleries are on display. One of the more popular satellite stops is Scope Miami Beach, which focuses on the avant-garde: artists such as Laurence Vallières from Montreal, who makes six-foot-tall sculptures from cardboard, and Piotr Krzymowski, who works with video, neon and collage. Other must-visits are Art Miami, which boasts works by heavy hitters including Warhol, Lichtenstein, de Kooning and Ed Ruscha, along with actor-turned-painter Adrien Brody, and, one block away, its sister fair, CONTEXT Art Miami.

The sheer magnitude of it all can be overwhelming, which is why Mandarin Oriental, Miami has teamed up with the Royal Academy of Arts in London to create a stay-and-learn package, Contemporary Art Now: From Artist to Market, with Dr Anna Dempster, Head of Academic Programmes at the Royal Academy, providing insight into contemporary art history and the current art market, plus the key players and trends. Participants also receive exclusive access to the opening reception of Art Basel Miami Beach and a VIP pass for the week.

Contemporary art at the Art Miami show space

Contemporary art at the Art Miami show space

Artist-run spaces such as Dimensions Variable and Locust Projects offer year-round, changing exhibitions of works, including the latter’s video opera and immersive installation by Pittsburgh-based Alexis Gideon. Also reflecting the city’s Zeitgeist is the new Pérez Art Museum Miami (aka PAMM), which recently commissioned Sarah Oppenheimer’s S-281913, a massive architectural installation with rotating glass elements (on display until 30 April 2017).

For a true taste of the local art scene, visit Primary Projects, an exhibition space showcasing Florida artists. Look out for Magnus Sodamin, creator of drippy (and trippy) floral paintings, and Autumn Casey, who imaginatively repurposes relics.

Hard Rock Stadium is another incredible project. Jessica Goldman Srebnick has spearheaded an effort to turn the home of the Miami Dolphins into an oversized, al fresco gallery of sorts, with 19 larger-than-life murals and sculptures by international street artists found throughout the concourse. It neatly echoes the work of her father, Tony Goldman, pioneer of the hugely successful Wynwood Walls, a series of street art murals in the former warehouse district of Wynwood by a global roll call of graffiti artists.

A mural at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium 

A mural at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium 

Sandwiched between the Design District and Downtown, Wynwood is renowned as an arts hub, with more than 70 galleries and museums. And while only those who are well connected in the art world get invited into the homes of Miami’s most prominent collectors, many know of their off-property institutions. The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation and the Rubell Family Collection all offer the chance to get a glimpse of their most prized art possessions.

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