Everyone knows Miami has enough gorgeous beaches and places of leisure to make it the perfect escape – especially if you’re looking to trade in wintry landscapes for the Floridian sunshine. But there’s more going on in Miami than sipping Mai Tais and gazing at legendary sunsets. With a flurry of festivals of all sizes and a diverse culture that gives Miami its character, choosing just one event to attend might be the most challenging part of planning a Miami getaway. Consider these winter festivals and events in Miami that act as the perfect complement to days spent soaking up the sun in South Beach.
Art and Culture Festivals
Art Deco Weekend
The art scene in Miami really gets kicked up a notch after the new year, with a variety of energetic festivals taking center stage. At the renowned Art Deco Weekend in mid-January every year, locals and visitors experience a host of live events and shows spanning the posh Ocean Drive shopping district – all with the backdrop of the color-infused, vintage Miami architecture. Jazz demos, retro fashion shows, swanky soirees, classic car shows, and much more fill in the schedule of one of Miami’s longest-running festivals, as this one has been steadily building since it got started back in the mid-1970s.
Patrons are also only steps from some of Florida’s most famous beaches, making it easy to slip in a beach picnic or an ocean dip before heading to the next event. Both an educational outreach program and an event aimed at preserving the famous Art Deco architecture of the area, the Art Deco Weekend is one of the few winter festivals that can truly claim to have something for everyone.
Beaux Arts Festival
Not to be outdone, the Beaux Arts Festival on the University of Miami campus has also emerged as one of the must-see winter events in Miami for art lovers, drawing in artists from all over the world to participate. Designed in the 1950s to introduce young artists to the public, this festival has grown into a widespread celebration of inspiration and artistry. It is complete with a prestigious student showcase that is one of the leading competitions of its kind.
Guests peruse long lines of tents featuring local and international artists and participate in art workshops that are ideal for both families and couples alike. One of the centerpieces of the event, the Beaux Arts Ball, is a radiant costume party that keeps it fun with themes ranging from James Bond to Noah’s Ark.
South Miami Rotary Arts Festival
Also showcasing many of the best local artists in Miami, the South Miami Rotary Arts Festival in late-February is another great option for art aficionados of all experience levels. Held for more than 30 years, this festival takes over the area of South Miami on Sunset Drive (downtown Miami), proudly showing off a spread of artwork, live music, beer gardens, and more in front of the area’s many historic buildings and fine restaurants.
World-class Food Fests and Growing Beer Demos
Imagine tasting the creations of some of the world’s best chefs with your bare feet in the sands of Miami Beach. Held every February, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival brings in acclaimed chefs from all over the world to showcase a spectacular variety of cuisine. Sponsored by The Food Network, the renowned festival is not only a place to taste some of the most delicious flavors your tongue will ever meet, but it’s also a great place to learn the culinary arts no matter your cooking skill (or lack thereof).
Seminars, special dinners, and a variety of live events are spread out throughout five days, catering to both romantic couples and families. With its stunning backdrop overlooking the ocean, high likelihood of celebrity sightings, and new events that are always popping up on the schedule, the festival is easily one of the highlights every winter in Miami.
Another winter favorite, the Miami Beer Festival takes over Marlins Park one night every January, showing off a whirlwind of nectars from breweries around South Florida and beyond. Focusing on craft beers, this festival comes with live music and a line of the best food trucks in Miami, creating an unbelievable atmosphere right on the home field of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. For a youthful, energetic experience that shows off some of the best tastes of Miami, the up-and-coming Miami Beer Festival is always a good option.
Near the beginning of March, the Miami Whiskey Mash celebrates the art of whiskey with flavors from all over the world, from Scotland and Ireland to the very best Japanese and American styles. A mellow infusion of jazz is the music of choice in a low-key event that has taken off in only a handful of years since its inception. Meanwhile, the International Chocolate Festival is a celebration of the cacao plant guaranteed to enliven your test buds. Held at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the chocolate fest features a series of lively demos from experts to go with some of the most mouth-watering chocolates you’ll ever find.
Boating and Heritage festivals
As one of the very best cities for boating in the U.S., Miami is a wonderland for boating enthusiasts and the natural home for an enormous boat festival that takes over the waters in mid-February. Held at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin, the Miami International Boat Show is where you can find any power boat imaginable, from slick and fast to the perfect vessels for a plodding pleasure cruise along the Biscayne Bay. Complete with delectable foods from local vendors and instructional seminars, the boat show is where you can check out some of the best boats in the world, learn a thing or two about the ins and outs of boating, or simply sip cocktails at the water’s edge overlooking the bay.
Another key event held at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin along with nearby Miamarina, the Strictly Sail Miami Boat Show is dedicated to celebrating the art of sailing. Also held in February, the show boasts top-of-the-line catamarans and a wide range of cutting-edge sailing gear, making it a must for anyone who loves to sail – or simply would love to get into it someday.
Redland Heritage Festival and Craft Fair
While sailing is a tradition that goes back a very long time in Miami, visitors also get a chance to see the roots of the region up close and personal at the Redland Heritage Festival and Craft Fair. A family-friendly event that has all kinds of events for kids of different ages, the festival is the perfect escape from the hustle-bustle of Miami and shows the pristine subtropical landscape of South Florida in vivid detail. Held at the rural Fruit and Spice Park about 20 minutes from downtown Miami, the Redland Heritage Festival has events like Everglades wildlife shows, pony rides, petting zoos, and more to keep you occupied as you wander the sprawling botanical garden. The park itself is also a sight to see on its own, as it has a staggering collection of fruit and spice trees brought over from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Although there are plenty of big events and festivals that take place every winter in Miami, don’t forget to keep an eye out for smaller fests that might give you a terrific close-up of the local culture. Neighborhoods like Little Havana, the Design District, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables are constantly hosting fun local events that remind everyone Miami is more than just an assortment of immaculate beaches. With its outstanding winter weather and a vast collection of annual events and festivals, Miami has more than enough to keep you occupied both day and night whatever your interests happen to be.