The Magic City adds to its allure this January with a tempting roundup of annual festivals celebrating everything from art deco to chocolate and the living legends of jazz

Exhibits at the Miami International Art Fair

Exhibits at the Miami International Art Fair

Miami is effervescent throughout the year, but January ushers in an especially rich cultural vibe, with events designed to captivate the senses. Aficionados of the visual arts, for example, eagerly await the annual Art Deco Weekend (16 to 18 January), which takes place along the street known worldwide for its collection of pastel-painted architecture: Ocean Drive. Miami International Art Fair (16 to 19 January), held aboard a mega-yacht, attracts a less eclectic but still intriguing crowd. Meanwhile, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s annual Chocolate Festival (23 to 25 January) tempts visitors with its sinfully good pleasures for the palate.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens

Those who seek musical amusement know the top tickets to be had are for this year’s Miami Beach Jazz Festival, which started out as a one-day gathering in 2013 and has now blossomed into a year-round celebration, culminating with a sensational ‘Living Legends of Jazz’ concert in the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center on 10 January. This year’s lineup includes Bucky Pizzarelli, known as the inventor of jazz guitar, Monty Alexander (who once played with Frank Sinatra) and the Harlem-Kingston Express, guitarist and vocalist Ed Laub, and singers Aria Hendricks and Giacomo Gates. Miami locals will also be in the mix, including violinist Federico Britos and the festival’s artistic director Markus Gottschlich, who is an accomplished pianist and composer.

Monty Alexander plays at the New World Center in the Miami Beach Jazz Festival

Monty Alexander plays at the New World Center in the Miami Beach Jazz Festival

Gottschlich explains that, because of extreme segregation against African-Americans in the past, many of the aforementioned stars were once forbidden to stay at the Miami Beach hotels where they performed. But this time round, with the Miami Beach Jazz Festival, they are being welcomed with open arms as they make music together. ‘The essence of jazz will be captured in that moment,’ says Gottschlich.

Free concerts at the festival, starting at 2pm, will be held outside, showcasing the talents of four impressive acts, including the Grammy-winning Venezuelan C4 Trio. As ticket holders enter the venue for the show at 6pm, ‘wallcasts’ (the livestreaming of the concert, projected onto the walls of the New World Center) will begin, permitting the public to watch and share in this history-making event. The atmosphere inside the venue will be even more electric, especially for the VIPs who get to meet the performers and enjoy an exclusive, fully catered post-performance soirée on the rooftop.

The MO Bar + Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, Miami

The MO Bar + Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Upon returning to Mandarin Oriental, Miami, which is less than six miles from the concert venue (although travel by limousine is recommended to avoid traffic to and from the event), hotel guests and their entourages can keep the beat going at MO Bar + Lounge, a glamorous space hosting lively entertainment by top Latin artists. The new gathering spot offers a truly sensational experience, combining panoramic views of the Miami skyline and its surrounding waterways with impeccable service, tantalising light bites and magical cocktails.

Riki Altman-Yee is a freelance journalist who specialises in luxury lifestyle stories, running her communications company Wordstar Ink

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