The beginning of the new year is also the height of the tourist season. Expect fair weather, crowds, higher prices than usual and a slew of special events.
Martin Luther King Jr Day Parade
This parade, held on the third Monday of January, celebrates the legacy of the USA's most iconic civil rights hero. The procession runs along NW 54th from NW 12th Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park. A Caribbean twist gives this event a distinctly Miami imprimatur.
Art Deco Weekend
Art deco is Miami's signature style and this weekend fair features guided tours of the city’s many clusters of deco structures, concerts, classic-auto shows, sidewalk cafes, and vendors of arts and antiques. Held in mid-January.
Miami Jewish Festival
This international film festival gets a lot of attention outside Miami. It's a great chance to cinematically kibitz (chat) with one of the biggest Jewish communities in the USA.
The big running event in South Florida is the Miami Marathon, which brings over 25,000 runners racing through the streets along a very scenic course. There's also a half marathon.
The last hurrah for northerners escaping the harsh winter, February brings arts festivals, street parties and excellent wildlife-viewing in the Everglades.
Coconut Grove Arts Festival
This late-February fair features more than 350 artists from across the globe. It's one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind in a city that doesn’t lack for an artistic calendar.
Original Miami Beach Antique Show
This show unearths an attic of all the world’s quirky, cool stuff crossed with an archaeology dig. It attracts some 800 dealers from more than 20 countries.
South Beach Wine & Food Festival
A festival of fine dining and sipping that has become a fixture of South Florida’s social calendar. Expect star-studded brunches, dinners and barbecues. This is the best time of year to brush shoulders with a celebrity chef.
Virginia Key Grassroots Festival
Held on the picturesque Virginia Key (near Key Biscayne), this weeklong fest (virginiakeygrassroots.com) features an excellent line-up of bands.
Spring arrives, bringing warmer weather, world-class golf and tennis festivals, and St Patrick’s Day. Expect to see some Spring Breakers behaving badly on the beach.
Miami's premier Latin festival (www.carnavalmiami.com) takes over for nine days in early March: there's a Latin drag-queen show, in-line-skate competition, domino tournament, the immense Calle Ocho street festival, Miss Carnaval Miami and more.
Miami International Film Festival
This event, sponsored by Miami-Dade College, is an intensive 10-day festival showcasing documentaries and features from all over the world. Over half a dozen cinemas participate across the city.
Ultra Music Festival
In late March, huge dance-loving crowds gather at Bayfront Park for three dances of revelry. Top international DJs jet in to spin electronica on eight different stages scattered about the park. There are light shows, wild costumes and mega-decibel sound systems that spill bass far across the city.
Welcome to shoulder season: lower prices, balmier temperatures and some choice events. This is Miami’s best transition period between winter crowds and summer swelter.
Miami Beach Gay Pride
In April, Miami Beach proudly flies the rainbow flag high in this lively weekend festival (www.miamibeachgaypride.com) that culminates in a colorful street parade along Ocean Drive. Break out the boas, glitter and body paint!
Billboard Latin Music Awards
This prestigious awards show (www.billboardevents.com) in late April draws top industry execs, star performers and a slew of Latin music fans.
Held over one weekend in April, this newish festival (www.wynwoodlife.com) is a celebration of all things Wynwood, with live music and DJs, a big market of arts and crafts, fashion shows, food trucks, a culinary stage (of cooking demonstrations) and talented street artists creating live installations throughout the fest.
MiFo LGBT Film Festival
Held late-April to early May, this festival (www.mifofilm.com) screens at various South Beach theaters, plus up in Fort Lauderdale (the 'Fo' part of the equation). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) visitors will find fun events bracketing the fest, generally of a more cerebral bent than is normal for Miami’s scene.
Spring in South Florida can either mean pleasantly subdued heat or sweaty soup. This is when mosquito season begins in earnest in the Everglades.
Aqua Girl (www.aquagirl.org) is the biggest party of the year for Miami's lesbian population, and by any measure, a pretty exhausting kick-ass event. DJs, jazz brunches, comedy nights, beach parties, rock concerts and art exhibitions add up to a lot of fun.
This weekend party, which celebrates gay men of color (but is open to all), brings all the boys to the yard. Structured as a multiday dusk-to-dawn party across the city, you can expect lots of debauchery at this popular circuit event (www.sizzlemiami.com).
Miami Museum Month
Miami Museum Month (www.miamimuseummonth.com) makes the entire month of May a good time to visit. It's an excellent chance to experience happy hours, special exhibitions and unique lectures in some of the best museums in the city.
In June the real baking heat and wet humidity begins in Miami, and the events calendar tones down a little as a result.
Goombay Festival Coconut Grove
Bahamas Mama. One of a few Goombay festivals held in South Florida, this massive fest (www.goombayfestivalcoconutgrove.com), held on the first week of June, celebrates Bahamian culture in Coconut Grove. Expect music, street food and lots of dancing.
Not only is it hot, it’s hurricane season. Yay! But seriously, this is a good time to visit. There are fewer crowds and locals are friendlier and more accessible to tourists.
July 4 features an excellent fireworks and laser show with live music that draws more than 100,000 people to breezy Bayfront Park. The pyrotechnics light up the sky above Biscayne Bay in an oddly romantic way.
August is sweltering and it's the deepest dip in the low tourist season. Many Miami residents head to cooler climes for a break from the humidity.
Top restaurants around Miami participate in Miami Spice’s Food Month (Ilovemiamispice.com), offering prix-fixe meals to lure folks out of the air-con. For most tourists, this is an easier festival to appreciate than the celebrity-focused South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
The weather is still steamy, and autumn brings back college students – expect lots of revelry in the university hoods such as Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.
International Ballet Festival of Miami
While much of Miami’s arts calendar is given over to modern visual art and music, the International Ballet Festival of Miami (www.internationalballetfestival.org) is the main event for the city’s considerably active patrons of classical dance.
Tourist season kicks off at the end of the month, bringing more crowds and cooler days. Festival time starts in earnest with the White Party.
If you’re gay, and you love music, excess and naughty fun, don't miss the White Party (www.whiteparty.org). This weeklong extravaganza draws thousands of gay men and women for nonstop partying at clubs and venues all over town.
Miami Book Fair International
In mid- to late-November, the Miami Book Fair International (www.miamibookfair.com) is among the most important and well-attended book fairs in the USA. Hundreds of nationally known writers join hundreds of publishers; Latin American authors form a considerably strong contingent.
Tourist season is in full swing. Northerners book rooms well in advance so they can bask in sunshine and be here for holiday festivities.
Art Basel Miami Beach
One of the seminal international art shows in the world, Art Basel can reasonably claim responsibility for putting Miami Beach on the map of the international jet-setter crowd. Gallery showcases, public installations and parties appear throughout Miami and Miami Beach.
King Mango Strut
Held each year just after Christmas, this quirky 24-year-old Coconut Grove parade (www.kingmangostrut.org) is a politically charged, fun fair that began as a spoof on current events and the now-defunct Orange Bowl Parade.
Held in January or December, Art Miami (www.art-miami.com) is a massive fair that displays modern and contemporary works from more than 100 galleries and international artists. It may not have Basel’s big name, but the talent is still very impressive.
In late December or early January, hordes of football fans descend on Miami for the Super Bowl of college football, the infamous Orange Bowl (www.orangebowl.org). The entire city gets a youthful shot in the arm, while team rivalries simmer in sports bars.
New Year's Eve
Bars and restaurants hold (pricey) special events, but the best place to be at midnight is down near the beach. Ocean Drive closes to traffic, and becomes a big street party. The midnight fireworks go off around 9th St.